Does being a sports fan ever make you feel kind of dirty? You sit there rooting for a team only to find out half the guys beat their wives or have multiple weapons charges on their rap sheet? Here's a little salve for that ache. The bad boys of the sports world get all the attention, but the happy story of former Los Angeles Clippers Coach Kim Hughes and the players who saved his life might just blow all of them out of the water.
Prepare to be a happy sports fan again.
Because Hughes used to be a coach for the Clippers. But years before that, he was an assistant coach with the lesser-known, lesser-talked-about, and basically lesser-all-around team from the City of Angels. And at that point, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
And proving the team is truly the "lesser" in Los Angeles, the Clippers refused to cover his medical bills. Instead they were covered by four men: Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, and Marko Jaric.
You may notice those are the names of players? All four men stepped up with their personal funds to cover the medical bills that their employer wouldn't. We'll pause for you to pull out the tissues.
It's a story that actually dates back seven years, but just came out this week thanks to a reporter covering the Milwaukee Bucks, where Maggette is now a star. But the date on the checks doesn't matter when you're a sports fan just looking for a reminder that the men we pay money to watch are more than magicians on the court (or field or diamond). I've always tried to keep the two separate, tried not to put athletes on pedestals because I'm aware they're all too human, and they will eventually screw up -- super human talent at dribbling or kicking or hitting aside.
But watching sports is, for most of us, a catharsis, a therapy at the end of a long day of work. According to a recent PC Tools March Madness survey, a significant number of people copped to checking sports scores when someone wanted to talk about “feelings,” during an argument with a significant other, or when their boss was talking. Because they're an escape.
And who wants an escape that depresses them? The fact is, the happy sports stories, like this one from Hughes, will probably remain in the back of my mind throughout the basketball season. Just as a football game tends to bring up memories like the day quarterback Tony Romo pulled over on the side of the road to change a stranger's tire.
What are your favorite "sports star turned hero" stories?
Image via laffy4k/Flickr