Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Role models are still among us

Dear LA Dodger Centerfielder Matt Kemp,
Every morning millions of men and women open up their local newspaper or turn on the computer or mobile device to catch up on the latest in the outlet that we all call sports. In recent years between the standard baseball box scores and current playoff matchups the headlines usually read like something you see in the tabloids while waiting in line at your neighborhood supermarket. For every homerun hit or touchdown scored with a charity event or fundraiser an athlete attends mixed in which usually includes a stipulation he gets paid there are multiple stories of one being pulled over for the 5th time for drinking and driving or the power forward who thought it was a better financial decision to father ten children with nine girlfriends and one ex-wife than it was to spend the $27.99 on the economy box of rubbers at WalMart that even the college kid making grilled cheese sandwiches with his iron can afford and let me not forget the numerous professionals who decide that the best way to let off steam after a big loss is to use there wives as a sparring partner. Charles Barkley famously said and I quote; “I am not a role model”. At the time that he uttered these famous words sports was my life. Posters of athletes plastered the walls and every sporting magazine was littered throughout my bedroom and my dream was that there was a spot in the NFL for a 5’9” white kid from the country with below average speed who thought beer was a superior substitute to Gatorade as post workout hydration.  My parents instilled in me that just because someone was famous or was on TV it did not constitute them as a role model as Chuck so eloquently stated. The cold truth is that this ideology does not translate to everyone. Kids across the globe look up to professional athletes as the gold stander of what they want to be weather it’s an orphan fighting his way out of the hood and looking for a better life or the child from privilege wanting to impress his parents by taking his own route to fame and fortune they are constantly let down by their heroes day in and day out. On Sunday night I saw something that put my faith back into professional athletes and humanity. To see you Matt Kemp after being swept by your most hated rival who just happens to be the reigning world champion SF Giants on Sunday and a start to the season that would make Tommy Lasorda back away from the pasta you performed a masterpiece by literally disrobing on the field after the final out and giving the clothes off your back and the shoes on your feet to the lone Dodger fan at the park who just happens to be in the final stages of terminal cancer.  This small act of unplanned kindness to a dying boy without cameras and media staged around it brought a tear to this red asses eye and proved that there are much bigger things in life that matter. Matt, you demonstrated that there are still shining examples of sports icons out there for our youth to look up to, so keep up the good work and as your undershirt fluently expressed, beast mode Matt Kemp you gained a fan and are alright by me.
PS. Happy hump day peeps on this gloomy day in God’s Country. Hope the sun hits you and brightens your day at some point. Pay it forward today to someone who least expects it and remember….when a little pretty white girl runs into the arms of a black man you knows something is wrong (thank you Charles Ramsey for that sage advice. Mad props.). 

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