A Road Less Traveled

I have a friend who is serving time in jail. He’s in the middle of serving a three year sentence at a correctional facility in upstate New York. He was involved in an unfortunate situation that had horrible consequences for everybody who was involved. It was one of those blink of the eye moments that change lives forever and poses a ton more questions than answers as to that funny thing we call life.

Tonight I sat down to write a quick letter to my friend (instead I’m writing this blog post which I will send to him). I do this every few months – it is no big deal and takes me all of 20 minutes. I usually jot down a few notes about some good books (even sent him a few), tell him some worthless gossip about our common friends, throw out a few thoughts, and take a guess or two as to what he is up too. My friend doesn’t write back to me so the conversation is a bit one-sided but he does send out mass letters every few months that are pretty entertaining and usually gives me a shout out in the letters or when speaking with his family on the phone – which is cool with me and enough to keep me writing.

I wasn’t really all that close with him before he began serving his time. His brother is in my close (yet very large) group of friends and I guess we became friends through association. We had hung out a bunch in large groups, had some decent conversations, and shared an amazing trip to Vegas a few years back. He was entertaining to be around but his personality was a bit over the top for my liking and sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes I thought it would be worth getting to know him a bit better if he toned it down and made it a bit easier for me.

The funny thing is I find myself thinking of, and admiring, my friend quite often these days. He will be released on November 28th of this year and every day that passes is one day left. Surviving jail may or may not be an accomplishment (depending on who you) ask but I’m going to mark it down as one. It’s not very often that somebody from our background and at such a young age spends significant time locked up in a serious-security prison for an accident. In fact it’s so unique that the premise would be a hit for one of those MTV style reality shows. Except this is his reality and there is no show.

I admire him because he is stepping up to the nasty curve that life threw his way. He’s figuring out how to get by and is learning about stuff that the rest of us will never know exists. I’m not sure if this experience will make him stronger, and I have no idea if the scars of this dark incident will ever heal but I’m pretty sure he is going to try.

I’m not sure what the future holds for him. I’ll keep on writing. I might send him the fascinating article “Outrageous Justice” from ESPN.com – maybe it will resonate with him, maybe it won’t. In a few months, as a few thoughts mount up I’ll send him another note and a few months after that I’ll hopefully be hanging out with him in person. I’m not sure what I’ll say. I’ll try to discuss what works for me in life because the idea of me giving him advice or having any idea on what is best for him after his experiences seems pretty disparaging. Yup, his life is so unique he just might have to figure it all out on his own.

I am sure of one thing though and that is that I will listen. In part out of curiosity, in part out of courtesy and in part out of appreciation. I’m interested to hear his views of the world we live in and the world he lived in. After college, I moved to the other side of the country by myself in part to see how other people lived. It was different and I learned a ton. But spending a few years on the beach in worry-free San Diego isn’t quite the intense life altering experience that he is going through.

My friend has a ton of support from those who are very close to him, and in a weird way, even that seems pretty difficult. I don’t really think he’ll need my support, and I’m not going to pretend like I understand, but I’m definitely going to try and listen. Hope to hear from you soon, buddy.

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I’m no Willis Reed

Willis Reed did for the ankle sprain what Mahatma Gandhi did for starvation and what Brittany Spears couldn’t do for K-Fed. He made the worst thing ever seem cool as shit. Willis hobbled onto the old Garden floor in game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals and despite playing only a few minutes nailed a shot that willed the Knickerbockers on to a championship. It was recently honored as the #1 moment in MSG history and that can be vouched for by Howie Hoops (my dad) who was in attendance that night.

Unfortunately, my most recent ankle sprain was met with a bit less fanfare and a lot more pain than glory. I was enjoying one of my most serviceable games in my otherwise pitiful first season of intramural basketball for the All B-Squad when I rolled my ankle running up the court. Didn’t even land awkwardly on somebody’s foot or anything. G-d just decided l-hoops wasn’t making it up the court successfully this possession. I had to call time out and remove myself from the game. This is the third really bad ankle sprain I’ve had playing basketball since junior year of college and in all of them I stumbled over nothing by myself. Makes you wonder, huh. Maybe there is a little amoeba that has it out for me and messes with my footing on the basketball court. Or maybe I just suck at basketball and I’m such a clutz the only thing I do effectively is injure myself. Think I need to stick to ping pong and softball.

Anyhow, here is the photo from my camera phone. I was in bed at 1 AM actually watching it get bigger and bigger. It was like somebody cracked a nitrous cartridge in my ankle. For those of you in cali who I called, thanks for putting up with my mopyness.

sprained anke #1

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Did This Really Happen?

I came across this John Navarre highlight reel on youtube and was in awe. I have a bunch of very distinct memories of Navarre. You see, Navarre was my quarterback for almost three whole years of college. Any Michigan alum could tell you who there quarterback was while they were in school. It is kind of like recalling your prom date. I must admit that some of my friends might try and dupe you by calling Tom Brady their quarterback but the truth is Brady was nobody’s quarterback. The lineage was Griese-Henson-Navarre with Brady somehow sneaking in there for a few seasons while everybody was still celebrating the 98 Championship and Henson…actually, don’t even get me started on that loser.

Anyway back to Navarre, I remember the countless times he took a deep drop, gazed directly into Chris Perry’s eye as he leaked out into the flat, and with a neck stiffer than Mona Lisa and a throwing motion slower than a Monday morning, Navarre proceeded to throw it as hard as he could directly at that Perry’s feet. I remember when I helped instigate a thumb wrestle between Navarre and my friend Jon at the bar with Jon using an array of dopey sneak attacks, tag teams and two-hand grabs to repeatedly defeat Navarre. I remember Navarre’s whimsical look and matted crop top as they showed him on the sideline after another forced interception.

I do not remember Navarre doing any of the stuff in this highlight clip. Yes, it actually happened but it somehow is too weird or strange to fathom that if it is true (like Dicaprio in Growing Pains). Anyway, watch the clips and enjoy.

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