Posts Tagged ‘hero’

The Driver’s Seat

February 7, 2013

Wednesday February 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Donald Driver officially retired from the Green Bay Packers today, and in my opinion is one of a precious few in professional sports who clearly understand how the big picture works. He’s had one of the most successful careers I can think of in any sport in decades, and his star still shines.

I have admired him on and off the field for the entire fourteen year run he has spent playing for the Green Bay Packers, but I encourage anyone – even a non sports fan – to look deeper into how his life has unfolded. I would admire this guy even if he played for the despised Chicago Bears.

There are so many good things to say, I hardly know where to start. He not only was drafted in the last round, he was the last of two picks in that round. He was taken with a draft pick that was obtained from the Bears in exchange for Glyn Milburn, and that makes it all that much sweeter.

He was a picture of consistency throughout his career in Green Bay, but off the field has been a champion for charity and pillar of the community. There are all kinds of stories about him having a scheduled appearance of a certain length but staying far longer to make sure fans were happy.

I can’t believe every professional athlete isn’t like Donald Driver, but unfortunately he is about as rare as someone on ‘COPS’ being arrested with a shirt on. He has been a great professional on the field and a greater human being off of it. I am proud to be a Green Bay Packer fan when there are players like Donald Driver to cheer for, and he is what’s right about pro athletes in general.

So few of us ever get a chance to experience the privilege of playing big time sports, and many of us – me included – tried with every ounce of our being hoping to make it so. I feel with such a rare honor comes a responsibility to be a role model to others but not everyone agrees with me.

How hard is it really to sign an autograph or shake a hand and have someone tell you they love everything you do? Those moments will last a lifetime for those who receive it, and it’s always a win/win situation because the love will be reciprocated. Donald Driver has always grasped that.

Do you think he’s ever going to have to buy a meal or a drink in the entire state of Wisconsin if he lives to be 100? Will he ever be out of a job or a place to live? Hardly. He could probably run for governor of Wisconsin, and I’m sure many wish he would. He’s earned the status of legend.

Brett Favre was also on a path to have the same kind of unbridled love, but his selfishness and lack of class fumbled that away years ago. Yes, he was a great player but it didn’t end well after many years of him being the pampered golden child and many – me included – won’t forget it.

Donald Driver was the exact opposite. Everything he did reeked of class, and other players and teams in all of pro sports should look at his career as a shining example of how it can and should be done. The man is beloved in Green Bay, WI and for a black guy that’s not easy to pull off. He has transcended race and everything else, and is a stellar example of how to truly succeed. I can’t see anyone ever eclipsing the well rounded career Donald Driver has had. Hats off to a true hero.

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Gramps Of The Century

November 20, 2012

Sunday November 18th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Anyone who knows me even the slightest bit knows how much my grandfather’s influence has meant to me throughout my life. He was my father figure, mentor and guiding force and I always say if it weren’t for him I’d surely be dead or in prison by now. Even with his input, I almost had both of those outcomes anyway. I’ve met a lot of people in my time, but Gramps is still the king.

Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I couldn’t help thinking about him all day. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it, but I still feel his mark on my soul every single day I am alive. He was the wisest person I ever met, and the seeds he planted throughout my childhood have taken decades to germinate but are now in full bloom. I owe him a debt I can never repay.

Gramps spent quality time in my formative years, and taught me lesson after lesson that wasn’t always pleasant as I was learning it. He was from the ‘tough love’ school, and never held back if he thought I needed to hear or experience something. When I deserved a kick in the ass – I got it.

But when I deserved praise, he handed that out too. It made me eventually keep striving to gain his approval, and he set high standards for whatever I was going to do with my life. Maybe that’s why I’m so frequently disappointed, but I’d rather be that than the underachiever my father was.

Gramps and my father had a tumultuous relationship, and I don’t think they ever got along very well. Gramps used to tell me it was his biggest regret. He said no matter how hard he might try to reach him, he just never could. My father was a troublemaker, and stayed that way all of his life.

Gramps told me he could see I was the complete opposite, and vowed to do his best to give me the best fighting chance I could have to survive. I was five months old when he and my grandma took me in, as my mother had abandoned the family and left to apparently pursue her drug habit.

I have an older sister and brother, and they stayed with my father. I was originally going to get sent off to an orphanage, but Gramps told me later he thought it was his duty to raise me himself to make sure he knew someone was in my corner. He didn’t have to do that, and I love him for it.

Gramps was never mega rich or famous, but he did alright. He grew up in the Great Depression era, and was very ‘thrifty’ to say the least. He always looked for sales, and scraped by with cheap alternatives whenever he could. That’s just how he was, even when he could afford better things.

We became especially close in his final years as he battled cancer. Cancer always wins, and his body was totally ravaged in the end. Still, he volunteered to take new chemo drugs so as to serve as a guinea pig for future generations. Even in death, he was thinking of how to help humankind.

I sent a request to the Office of The Mayor in Milwaukee and it was accepted, making this day ‘Albert A. Dobrient Day’ in Milwaukee. Gramps was a lifelong proud Milwaukeean, so I wanted to do this in his honor as I know he’d have loved it. Very few are honored this long after passing, but Gramps was special and still is. If I can be half of who he was, I will have been a big success.