|Dez Bryant points to the sky after scoring a touchdown for his late father.|
Sports can bring a wave of emotions to the people that play and watch them. The feeling of scoring a huge goal or winning a championship can easily be compared to the crushing moment of a last second loss or making a mistake that costs your team the game. Given the nature of professional sports, athletes do whatever it takes and leave it all on the line to come up victorious.
However, certain things happen in this game we call life that are out of our control. One of these things is the loss of a loved one. Whether it be sudden or expected, nothing can ever make that sort of experience easy. That being said, I can't help but admire athletes that go out and honour a family or friend shortly after their passing. Given my own experiences of losing both my father and grandfather and my never ending love for sports, moments like these really hit close to home.
This post will take a look at instances in professional sports where athletes have had to deal with life's biggest loss only to come out as winners in the end.
Yesterday, less than 24 hours after the death of his father, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys had one of his best games of the year. Racking up 116 receiving yards and a touchdown, Bryant played a big role in his team’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His 50 yard touchdown was followed up with a moment of tribute to his father as he took a knee and pointed up to the sky. Following the win, the Cowboys gave Bryant the game ball which is a tradition used in sports to congratulate someone that had a big influence on a game. One can only imagine what was going through Dez’s mind at that point, but we can all be sure that his father would have been proud.
|The Miami Marlins come together after winning a game for Jose Fernandez|
This past September, the baseball world lost Jose Fernandez. Regarded as one of the game's most promising young stars, Fernandez's life was taken away far too early as he and two other friends lost their lives in a boating accident. In the days following his death, teams and players across the major leagues paid tribute to Fernandez by honouring his jersey number 16 and holding a moment of silence prior to their games. His team, the Miami Marlins, cancelled their game that day. On September 26, the team played their first game since losing their beloved pitcher. In the first inning, the Marlins' leadoff hitter, DeeGordon, had one of the most memorable moments in his life. On the third pitch of his at bat, Gordon hit his first and only home run of the season. Fighting back tears as he jogged through the bases, Gordon was welcomed by his equally emotional teammates upon returning to the dugout. He stated that it was the furthest he had ever hit a ball and knew Jose was there with him. The Marlins went on to win the game and came together in a post-game ceremony where they took a moment to remember their lost brother.
|Martin St. Louis|
Martin St. Louis is a household when it comes to hockey. Now retired, Marty was one of the best players of his time. He won multiple individual awards (including an MVP and scoring titles) as well as a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal. His path to success was not an easy one, as his size was seen as an issue to many in the hockey world. However, St. Louis defied the odds and pretty much won everything one could hope for in a hockey career. This can all be attributed to Martin's work ethic, strength and perseverance which he put on display for all of us on Mother's Day in 2014. Just days after suddenly losing his mom, Martin scored a big goal for the New York Rangers in a must-win game for the team. With Martin's family was in attendance, the Rangers went on to win the game. They eventually won the series and as fate would have it met the Montreal Canadiens in the next round of the playoffs. This gave St. Louis the opportunity to be close to home during this tough time while also being able to continue playing hockey. Moments like these make for a feel good story and show how the hockey gods can work in magical ways.
|Favre during his memorable Monday Night game.|
Finally, we look at a performance by one of football's greatest quarterbacks. In December of 2003, Brett Favre played the game of his life for the Green Bay Packers. One day after losing his father, Favre suited up for Monday Night Football where he and the Pack would play the Oakland Raiders. For those who do not know, playing in the Monday night game is something that every football player dreams of. Millions across the U.S. (and many Canadians) tune in to watch this game - giving athletes a chance to make a name for themselves on a big stage. Favre went on to throw an astonishing 399 yards and four touchdowns as he lead the Packers to a 41-7 victory. While Favre was already an elite quarterback at the time, this game added to his legendary status and NFL career.
Many people look up to professional athletes based on their accomplishments and record breaking performances. However, if there is ever a time to look up to them it is when they are at their lowest. When someone can come out of a tough situation like the athletes mentioned in this post, it gives us all hope that we can overcome our own struggles. This is something that can be applied not only to sports, but in everyday life as well.