Last night my husband and I watched a documentary. One of ESPN's 30for30 series. If you like sports at all and, frankly even if you don't, these films are excellent. I haven't seen them all yet, but they are good enough that I plan on adding them to my Net Flix and/or TIVO so I can see them all.
Last night's film was about Marcus Dupree. If you are not a football fan you may not know about him.He was an amazing athlete from Mississippi. Philidelphia, MS actually. This is the same small town where 3 young black men disappeared in the 1960s and later found that the sheriff had handed them over to the KKK. Their bodies were found later nearby. Many years later, Marcus was apart of the first high school class to be integrated all the way through school. The movie addresses these issues and how football helped in uniting a town divided by race.
But the story is so sad. He was a running back and so talented with so much promise. The story is close to my heart because he played 1 year for the Sooners. He had a lot of personal problems, including a brother with cerebral palsy that motivated him to run harder, jump higher, play tougher. He was the most recruited athlete of the time. He set all kinds of records, some still stand today. But, he had family and people around him that took advantage of him. He ended up leaving college after that year, never to return. He just vanished for a time. Even his mother didn't know where he was. He was hiding from all the people who wanted a piece of him.
He ended up playing for the USFL for a year because the NFL didn't take Sophomores at that time. He played only 1 full season. He was severely injured, blew his knee out. At 20 years old, his career was over and he was bankrupt with no future. He was depressed for a long time, then decided he wanted to play football again. He had gained a lot of weight. He worked out non-stop, dieted, rehabbed his knee. He lost 100pounds in 3 months. He tried out for the NFL and made it. He played for the LA Rams for 3 years and then was cut. Now he drives a truck. He clearly has many regrets. One being not going back to college. Not getting his education. Not managing his money better. Trusting people he shouldn't have. But he said he did what he wanted by coming back and being able to play for the NFL when no one thought he could. He has a family now. He still lives in the same small town. There is a church there he donated the money to build with a memorial to the 3 young men who were killed.
This story blew me away. I knew about Marcus Dupree, but only remember that he was amazing and then dropped out. I'm really not sure why I'm so affected by this story. I just haven't been able to get it out of my mind today. It certainly is sad in many ways. I really felt for the poor kid. It was so obvious to me as a physician that he seemed to have depression. They didn't discuss that in the film. I just kept thinking if someone had reached out to him and got him treatment, maybe his life would have been different.
Then I thought what courage he showed by getting over the devastation of having all his dreams taken away before he was really a grown man, before his 21st birthday. Just when most of us are starting our adult lives, finding a job, getting an education, finding our dreams, his were over. And he survived it. Not only survived, but came back to play in the NFL when no one thought he could. There was no ACL repair then. No tendon grafts. No implants that allowed you to run and jump and bend your knee.
Then there is the weight issue. He was a big man and weight was a problem. Not being in the best shape may have played a role in his injuries that led to the end of his career. It just seemed so sad that being out of shape played a role in robbing him of such a promising future. But then, it struck me that he was able to do all that rehab and training and weight loss on his own. No physical therapists. He couldn't afford them. No weight watchers. No Jenni Craig. No surgery. No blog. He just knew he had to do it, so he did. He said he worked out 6 hours a day, sometimes more. That is desire, dedication, drive. The weight was in his way, so he got rid of it.
And I thought, why do I let the weight in my way? How are my dreams and desires being prevented because because of my weight? This guy came back from a severe injury. I have trouble making myself work out because I'm busy or tired or just plain lazy. This guy lost everything and had to rebuild from nothing. He did it and built a life for himself. I feel down sometimes because the number on the scale is not moving.
I guess the point is: be thankful for what you have and don't let anything get in your way of your dreams. Believe in yourself when no one else will. Stick up for yourself. And let go of your regrets. You have to come to an acceptance of your past so that you can build your future.
Anyway, that's been on my mind all day. It wasn't a story with a "happy ending", but it was real. And in the end isn't that life?