This is a very different and unusual March Madness for all of us in the Cardinal family. We have grown accustomed to winning conference tournaments, NCAA tournament games, Final Fours and even an NCAA championship. With all that success we have made the target on our back bigger and bigger. The more you win, the more people outside of your family want to see you fail. They build you up just to tear you down. It’s just a natural reaction. Now that we are not competing in post season play and awaiting NCAA notice of allegations, people are looking for anything and everything to pile on. Everyone wants to be the person to break the story that puts the nail in our coffin. I blame social media for that. I want to take this time to remind you that over the next month or so we will be hearing all kinds of stories, reports and rumors of things that are not true or have no bearing on our current situation. We will see tweets, Facebook posts, memes, quotes taken out of context and unfounded articles that make fun of us, ridicule us or just try to make us angry. We must ignore and endure. I also want to take this time to remind you of the old saying “the night is darkest just before dawn.”
Even though this March Madness is very different, it is also going to be much the same. It is the kick off of a very special time of year for me. March Madness followed by the Masters and then it’s the most wonderful time of the year in Louisville. DERBY WEEK! This week is so special for me because it’s the anniversary of when I was given a second chance at life. Yes, I party and celebrate derby week and I celebrate life too. But I also use this week to step back and (excuse the pun) smell the roses. I take some time to myself and just think about how thankful I am for everything I have and all the people in my life. I encourage all of you to do the same. It makes sports seem irrelevant and might help you get through this rough road ahead as Cards fan.
I am proud to say that Kyle Kuric has inspired me to want to help people again. You see Kyle and I both suffered and recovered from brain tumors. Although our paths were very different we both ended up in the same position. A position where we needed all the support and payers we could get. All we had was faith and hope. A position of desperation and uncertainty. Most of you know Kyle’s story and I am not going to give you all my details (we would be here all day) but I can tell you that after recovery you have a new outlook and respect for life. I was called an inspiration and I wanted to use that to help others. For some I was a symbol of survival and hope. One day after I was completely rehabbed, I was stopped by someone I barely knew and he said to me “My wife is in the hospital battling a brain tumor. Seeing you walk past me everyday gives me hope that she too will someday walk again.” It felt great to give him that bit of hope and I was happy that he could draw strength from me. A few weeks later I found out that his wife had passed. I felt as though I had given him a false sense of hope and that her passing was twice as hard on him because of the optimism I had given him. At that point I decided not to use my story to help others but rather just to celebrate my life with those closest to me.
After hearing about Kyle’s condition, I was in shock. It brought back so many memories and emotions. I followed his situation closely. Every update took me on a roller coaster of emotions because I know how things can change in the blink of an eye when it pertains to swelling of the brain. I knew at that point I had to do something. I could no longer sit back and not offer to help. Along with writing an open letter to all U of L fans asking for prayers, I sent his wife a private message offering my support and my faith in his full recovery. I was not expecting a response because Cardinal fans went to the extreme to support Kyle and his family and there is no way she could respond and thank everyone. She did respond and was very grateful for all the support not only from me but all of Card nation.
Following Kyle’s story and watching the impact it has made on the Cardinal family, made me realize that I can’t help everybody but if I can help at least one person then it is worth the effort. So I want to help you. I will not be able to get the Cards into the NCAA tournament nor will I be able to lessen the sanctions that will be handed down from the NCAA but I may be able to offer a perspective that can help you get through it or even help you with one of your obstacles in life.
I would like to ask everyone to remember that sports are merely a distraction of real life and are ultimately a form of entertainment. Not watching The Cardinals play in the post season sucks. It simply sucks but I promise you I will find something productive to do with my “self-imposed” free time this March. Taking this time to step back and take inventory of where my life is and being thankful for all the blessings that I have earned and that have been bestowed upon me will help me overcome my March Sadness and any other negative situation that life can unexpectedly throw at me. It’s been said that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, express more compassion and kindness, sleep better, and even have stronger immune systems. That seems worth the time. I encourage all of you to do the same because life is bigger than basketball. I hope it helps you!
As always, GO CARDS!