Venus Trapped in Mars Sports and Lifestyle Blog Dallas

13 July 2017

What the ESPYs Taught Me

I woke up this morning with an emotional hangover. I watched the ESPYs last night (as I always do because I enjoy the pain, apparently) and if I wasn't ugly crying during the two (three?!) hour show, I had goosebumps. That's a lot for the human body to handle in a short amount of time, especially considering we fast forwarded through commercials. Legit, two straight hours of goosebumps and ugly tears. No wonder I felt all weird this morning.

If you missed it, here it is in a nutshell: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro who was badly injured in Afghanistan when his humvee rolled over a bomb. He was in a coma for three months and was told he'd likely never walk or breathe on his own again.

He of course said F THAT and now competes in the Invictus games for power lifting and shotput and was the very first 100% combat disabled Air Force technician to re-enlist in the service.

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And the tears rolled.

He then gave an acceptance speech after winning the Pat Tillman Award for service where he talked about being terrified for his son to see him for the first time. He was scared that his son would be scared of his new face.

And the tears rolled.

The son of course hugged him (what Del Toro described as "the best hug of his life") and told him he was glad to have his dad back.

And the tears rolled.

We then met Jarrius Robertson and his family. Jarrius has been all over social media, you've probably seen him on the sidelines at Saints practices or maybe at WWE events. Jarrius has had two liver transplants and 13 surgeries and is legit the happiest little kid I think I've ever seen.

In true ESPY dramatics, they tell us his entire story and the viewer is left praying this little guy is still alive. They finish the segment by telling us in April, he received a life-saving liver transplant giving him a new shot at life.

And the tears rolled.

He won the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and accepted the award looking like a stone cold boss. Check him out.

He and his dad gave a speech about being an organ donor and I simultaneously cried, got goosebumps and smiled as big as I possibly could. Go on Jarrius. You the man. He of course got a standing ovation (as did all of the night's real heroes) and....

the tears rolled.

Finally, the last ugly cry happened right before bed. Michelle Obama told us the story of Eunice Shriver's pursuit for inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities in the world of sports. I am nothing short of embarrassed to say, I didn't know the story of Eunice's journey to founding one of the most revolutionary organizations on the planet, the Special Olympics.

Several athletes also helped to tell Eunice's story. These select athletes told us how they were bullied, pushed into lockers, made fun of, mocked and shied away from ever striking up conversation with their peers because they were embarrassed and ashamed of their disability. They told their story about how competing in the Special Olympics single handedly gave them the confidence they had been lacking their whole life.

And the tears rolled.

Eunice made it her life's mission for inclusion in sports. She did it. In a time (60s-70s) when women didn't have a platform she found and fought for a platform, and in my opinion she legitimately changed the world with the creation of the Special Olympics. Last night we learned that 250 million people in this world have an intellectual disability and thanks to Eunice, they now have a place to compete in sports.

Her son, Tim Shriver accepted the award and gave an insanely powerful speech on her behalf. Eunice passed away in 2009, but I certainly hope that she was able to see her son, and the eight athletes who helped tell her story, so beautifully accept the Arthur Ashe courage award on her behalf.

I went to bed last night snuggled up in CB's nook, as I always do, but last night I had a very full heart. Each year, I watch the ESPYs and each year they teach me something different. This year, the ESPYs taught me that the world of sports is so much more than the NBA or NFL. It's so much more than Steph's 200 million dollar contract. It's so much more than if the VOLS are going to have a winning season or not.

Sports changes the lives of everyone who plays. Using sports as his personal variation of therapy helped Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro walk and breathe again, when he was told he probably never would. Hanging out with the Saints players, the girls and guys from the WWE and the LSU football team gave Jarrius Robertson the strength he needed to keep the fight going until his number was called on the liver transplant waiting list. Sports opened Diana Shilts' (and other people's) eyes to see that it's awesome to be different.

Sports changed my life. I had a really rough time in high school, I had a hard time making friends and never found my place. On the basketball court though, I always felt like I belonged. I was never intimidated on the court, I never felt like I had to say or do the right thing or I'd get made fun of. No one ever called me "pubes" (because of my curly hair) on the basketball court and it was the only place in all of Midlothian High School where I wasn't self conscious or anxious or intimidated.

Next time you think SPORTS are dumb because you see a star running back with a multi-million dollar contract arrested on drug charges, remember that the world of sports does so much good that never gets talked about in the media.

There is so much more to the world of sports than what we see on TV, the ESPYs last night taught me that.

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