Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fulfillment of the Book

Oh to be twenty-four years old, be viewed as "old" for your chosen profession and have those who know of what it is you do speak of your remarkable work in this, the "latter half" of your career.  And did I mention drop-dead gorgeous?  Such is life for Maria Sharapova, the Russian tennis star who plays this morning for the Wimbledon title.  Sharapova has won this championship before (according to Gidg - my go-to source for all things tennis).  She won in 2004 at age seventeen, when much like Sinatra she too had a very good year.

Major health problems apparently shelved her for a few years.  This morning she returns to Centre Court at the All-England Club hoping to shriek her way to another title.  At gunpoint, I could not tell you a single thing about the woman she is playing (including her name) so I shall not even hazard a guess as to whether Sharapova is likely to win.  Win or lose, she has made a remarkable journey just to make it back to this point.  A fact of which she is keenly aware

On the subject of comebacks and baby steps, it is worth the investment of your time (in the humble opinion of one not known for his humility) to read the piece on espn.com that Jim Caples wrote about Sean Burroughs.  Burroughs is a kid who grew up in the spotlight:  star player on his Little League team that played in back-to-back Little League World Series Championship Games (winning one title on the field and being awarded a second when it was discovered that one of the players on the team from the Philippines was actually a 31 year-old ringer from a Manila semi-pro team), a first-round pick in MLB in 1998, an Olympic Gold Medalist in 2000 and a "can't miss" rookie in 2002.  Oh yeah, he is also the son of former MLB player and AL MVP Jeff Burroughs.  He was the closest thing to a sure thing that had come down the pike in some time.  He was a golden child.  He had everything. 

And then suddenly, he had nothing.  He played and partied his way out of a big-league career and into a life dumpster diving for food on the streets of Las Vegas.  He hit rock bottom and figured out a way to dig a bit deeper.  But then he did something remarkable:  he stopped digging.  He found the courage of his convictions to unwedge his head from his own a** and to begin the long, arduous process of putting his life back together.  So far, so good.  His self-reclamation project has included his efforts to get back into MLB.  On that front, thus far, he has been only partially successful.  He earned a stint earlier this season with the Arizona Diamondbacks but, according to Caple's piece, was sent back down to the D-Backs' Triple-A affiliate in Reno in mid-June. 

The best part of Mr. Caple's article (and there are a lot of things from which to choose)?  Perhaps it is the utter and complete absence of Burroughs exhibiting a trace of self-pity or the fact that he blames no one but the man in the mirror for the mess he made of his life.  Or perhaps it is the fact that he credits the support of family, friends and his present employer who helped him crawl out of the wreckage of what his life had become and earned the opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of the person who matters the most:  that fella who stares back at him in the bathroom mirror every morning.

Ah, redemption.  Something worth singing about.

-AK

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