Let me preface this post by saying, I didn't know Chris Henry or his fiancée Tonga personally. And I don't make generalizations that start with "all black athletes" I've known too many to disrespect them like that. I don't know (nor care to know) the details that led to his tragic death nor do I need to recount the struggles Mr. Henry went through in his life.
So what I will do is mourn the loss of a 26-year old man who was not allowed to reach his full potential. A young black man, who like so many others, is gone far too early. Cincinnati Bengals owner said, "He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him."
From the National Sports Review:
"I kind of felt like I dug myself out of the hole and started doing the right things," Henry said in an interview with The Associated Press as training camp opened. "People say, 'How you feeling now Chris? You doing all right?' I just tell them I'm blessed. That's why I got it."
He did get it. He did understand the consequences of his poor decisions. He dug himself out of a deep hole, a hole deeper than anyone could imagine. And then, just like that, he's gone. Just like that, a comeback was ended. Just like that, another athlete died far too young.
When the Bengals brought him back, he was determined to live up to his potential. He spent more time working out. He spent more time with his fiancee and with his kids. He was a changed man. The Bengals noticed.
"He's a great kid with a great heart," (Bengals QB Carson)Palmer said as training camp started. "He's changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He's sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I'm just proud of him."
Chris is survived by three children, a mother and father, a fiancée and countless friends and fans who will miss him. I personally hate when it appears that someone has a chance at redemption and never gets the opportunity. One of the haunting things about those that die young is the hovering specter of "What if…" that lingers. I especially hate to see young Black men leave us too soon. What's left to say? Death sucks. RIP Chris.
Reflecting on some of the more pivotal tragic memories in my life, it occurred to me that quite a number of them happened while I was in bed. (Mind out of the gutter, people – we're being solemn and respectful here). I recall waking up to hear about the space shuttle explosion. I was in a hotel room reading a book/dozing on the bed when Aaliyah's death was announced. I had flown in from an overseas trip and was getting over jetlag when the news broke in to say that JFK Jr.'s plane was missing. I was in bed battling the flu in a Nyquil haze when BougieOlderBro called to tell me my father had passed away. And I vividly recall waking up from a restless sleep early one Los Angeles morning wondering 1) why I'd left the TV on all night and 2) why was Independence Day playing at 7:00 am?
On each of these occasions, I remember wondering for a few brief moments if I was still asleep and trapped in a very bad dream. I remember thinking if I could just wake up, none of this would be real. I remember thinking these are things that affect other people… not me. But the more awake I became, the more I realized that living nightmares are far worse. Your nightmare has become the reality. You can't re-script the outcome, drink warm beverages or flip to the cool side of the pillow to make it all go away. You get no do-overs.
In the case of my father's passing, I did not have the luxury of wallowing in sorrow; there was simply too much to be done. For those of you who have had a close relative pass, you know that in most cases your time is spent comforting others around you. The funeral, the reception, the endless phone calls… it becomes about their grief and reassuring them that you are okay (even if you're not). One of my father's best friends was so distraught that his raw pain threatened to unleash mine. Needing to keep it together, I passed him on for my older brother to handle. I was actually doing okay (façade in place) until my niece asked me if Grandpa was an angel now. I took to the bed for the rest of the night and a lot of the next day.
In the case of 9/11 there was a sort of numbness in the face of so much senseless tragedy and a suspended state of disbelief. I was working for a large media company at the time; we had offices in New York City. Since our Director of Human Resources just completely shut down emotionally (hid in her office with the door locked), it fell to me to organize a phone bank, check on employees' whereabouts, draft a letter for our CEO to send out and at noon send everyone at all of our offices across the country home. Because I lived near LAX, the road to get to my home was blocked and you had to show proof of residency to get down the street. I had a Texas driver's license, San Francisco address on my checks and my car was still registered in Texas as well. For some reason, I was absolutely frantic and started crying while digging in the back seat before coming up with a phone bill showing my name and LA address. The police officer was so concerned that he got in my car and drove me the half block home before walking back to his post. My S/O was supposed to be flying that day, one of my best friends worked in D.C. and my sister was supposed to be on a plane. I did not draw an easy breath until all my loved ones were accounted for and safe.
Unfortunately, we have become such a media-centric society; there is nowhere to hide from the memories. You almost become desensitized to the immense scale of horror and tragedy. So instead of re-capping the event whose anniversary is being recognized today, I'll simply take this moment to reflect on lives lost. I'll say a prayer or two for all the souls and wish nothing but hope and happiness for those left behind. Rest in peace, be at peace.
Teddy Kennedy was one of those rare individuals where you can say: they don't make 'em like that anymore. Love him or hate him, he was a polarizing figure for the Democratic Party and made no apologies for it. Flawed, human and living in the shadows of his slain older brothers; Teddy forged a legacy of public works and legislature that will impact generations to come.
The last in his generation of a dynastic family, public servant to the end, imbued with larger than life charisma and committed to the liberal ideologies of democracy until the very end. Teddy Kennedy has passed away from brain cancer at the age of 77. From ABC News (<-click link for more on his life and legacy):
Sen. Ted Kennedy died shortly before midnight Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77.
The man known as the "liberal lion of the Senate" had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to.
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the Kennedy family said in a statement. "He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it."
Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy brother who was left to head the family's political dynasty after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.
Kennedy championed health care reform, working wages and equal rights in his storied career. In August, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- by President Obama. His daughter, Kara Kennedy, accepted the award on his behalf.
I'll close with one of Ted's signature quotes: "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." Rest in peace, Mr. Kennedy.
I don't know how many of you grew up in the Church. Not church. But Church. Like a Praise Tabernacle or New Zion AME type of Church. A Black Church with roots in a great Southern tradition of prayer, call and response, song and preaching. If you did not go or have not been, you were treated to some of that during today's memorial service for Michael Joseph Jackson. This is what we call a true Homegoing Ceremony. In the words of T.I. (he's a rapper, bougie folks), "What chu know about that?"
Moments that literally brought tears to my eyes…
- Letters from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela read aloud by Smokey Robinson- who still looks 45
- We are Going to see the King sung by Church Choir
- Queen Latifah reading a stunningly brilliant poem "We Had Him" by Maya Angelou
- Stevie Wonder singing I never thought you'd leave in Summer (They won't go when I go), I remain in awe of his talent
- Jennifer Hudson singing the Free Willy song – She went straight to Church on this one, did not know she was pregnant
- John Mayer with the Human Nature "cool jazz" remix
- Jermaine singing Smile… I had forgotten he can really sing
- Congresswoman Sheila Lee (from Texas ya'll!) went OLD SCHOOL Church on ya'll comparing Michael to the Good Samaritan
- Usher singing Gone Too Soon
- Paris Jackson breaking down did me in
- Was that Trey Lorenz with Mariah Carey (who needed to warm up, her entire first verse was off)
- Berry Gordy – I wasn't feeling him
- Kobe and Magic – as a friend of mine would say, "that's a For Who For What moment right there" – why was he talking about chicken? So not bouge-worthy
- Reverend Al dropping the mic like "Sexual Chocolate" from Coming to America – WTF?
- Um… Brooke Shields, for real though? She started off boo-hooing and never really pulled herself together. I don't think I realized that they were that close. She looks good though.
I'm not going to comment on Michael's lifestyle or how or why he died. I prefer to celebrate the man, the music and the legacy of genius.
Did you see the memorial service? What did you think?
Another pause for the cause with the death of former NFL Quarterback, Steve "Air" McNair.
In the wake of the Tennessee Titans' painful loss to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, Steve McNair sat in front of his locker in a quiet room of the Georgia Dome, and he cried.
"So close," McNair said of the championship game's final play, when Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson was stopped by Rams linebacker Mike Jones 1 yard shy of the end zone and a tying score. "It was so very close."
And what I recall foremost about that game and the minutes immediately after it, more than Dyson's almost-touchdown or the dynamic 73-yard reception by Isaac Bruce for the contest's winning score, is the glint of tears in Steve McNair's eyes that day.
Noted for his toughness and his uncanny ability to play through pain (a trait he credited to his old coach at Mt. Olive High School in Mississippi), it was rare to witness McNair so much as wince during his 13 NFL seasons, let alone weep openly. And that's why those tears -- not the kind that roll down a person's face, but the sort that shone unmistakably in his baleful eyes -- were so stunningly incongruous that they couldn't help but stick with any person witnessing them.
Today, it's the rest of us who are left saddened by the untimely loss of a terrific player and, more than that, a good man. Few NFL players have performed with the kind of innate competitiveness that McNair possessed. Not many men played the game with such passion and determination. And those qualities arguably should be the first things people remember about Steve McNair.
He talked a bit about football and chasing the ring, family and blessings. I remember thinking he was a nice guy who could've dominated the league and collected that ring had he played for a real team at the right time. He was a monster on the field, an Ironman, man among men. Soft-spoken and polite off the field. I saw him once after that and he remembered me and called me by name. I teased him and asked him if he could come play for the Cowboys. He laughed and he talked about some of the charity and foundation work he had going. Sigh... He will be missed.
I'm tired of the sad news and this one stings more than a little bit. I'll raise a glass for Steve this weekend and send up a prayer for his family. Rest in Peace, Steve.
Share your thoughts on this tragedy or memories of great Steve McNair moments.
Michael Jackson - Stranger In Moscow (Official Music Video) - Funny home videos are a click away