For those of you who take no special joy, or pleasure, in the world of sports, this gratitude to you may seem shallow. For me, however, one who finds much microcosm comparison in sports to life, I’m always thankful when we have sports figures who rise to lead by example and strength of character.
In that light, I’m thankful to have had the privilege to participate, at whatever distance, in the lives of two great sports figures, Muhammad Ali, three-time heavyweight boxing champion, and LeBron James, basketball player extraordinaire. The two topped June news lines in 2016 and reopened conversations about “greatness in sports”, “giving back”, “being role models”, and numerous other thoughts on life.
Both achieved greatness in their chosen careers, both gave back extraordinarily, both suffered setbacks of enormous challenges, both persevered. Both have spoken volumes to us on living life the right way.
Since attacked by Parkinson’s Disease in 1984, Ali fought on, bringing awareness to that disease, as well as continuing to fight the disease of racism. He has found his deserved final rest.
After feeling two years of pressure cooker anticipation in the city of Cleveland, James has reached the top of the mountain he promised Cleveland he would climb with them upon his return to that city. He and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the city’s first ever NBA championship.
I’m grateful, as a normal human being, to have lived in their time and to have witnessed their individual greatness in the sports arena and in the sport of life.
Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg