My granddads, like my father, always supported everything their grandchildren did. No matter the athletic event, when they were healthy and sometimes even when they weren’t, they were there.
I distinctly remember my two granddads coming to my high school baseball games. Each time I would pitch, I would look for those two lawn chairs at “The Big Hill” at Eastern Tech and they would be there watching, rooting and analyzing.
We would always have post-game chats on what I did right, what I did wrong and how the team performed as a whole.
And the same with football, only they weren’t as close to me as the grandstands at CCBC-Essex were a ways away from the playing surface. But I could always find them. I could always hear them. Even though the stadium packed a few thousand loud Eastern Tech sports fans watching a high school football game, I always knew where to find my Pop-Pop and Dziadzi.
I had the pleasure to play in two consecutive state title football games at M & T Bank Stadium. We lost the games and the experience was amazing, but something was missing. My granddads. Not because they didn’t want to be there, but their health situations started slowly spiraling downward.
Outside of my athletic performances, my two grandfathers were Baltimore sports fans through and through. When the Colts were here, they bleed blue and white. Orioles baseball was not a weekly, but daily topic of conversation. Once the Ravens came to Baltimore, you know where the dial on the television set was turned to.
I will never forget that magical night in 2001 when the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. I was at my grandfather’s house and that night had it all. Tears of joy. Hugs galore. Kisses. Laughter. Yelling in celebration. I was 9, but I distinctly remember every bit of that night and I always will because of who I was able to share that moment with.
After that great sports moment, even as a young child, I knew that this was my calling and that one day I could show my granddads and the rest of my family that I can be like the guys and ladies on television or the radio.
I attended Salisbury University from 2009 until last December and I graduated and earned Summa Cum Laude honors and a Bachelor’s degree in the field of my choice and my passion, Media Production. But something was missing. My granddads.
That first semester I attended Salisbury, I received a phone call in late October. My grandfather on my mother’s side had passed. I couldn’t believe it. Not only that, but a month later, I spent Thanksgiving morning in a hospital room with my dad’s father. He passed in early December.
The grief was immense. The uncertainty of how to take it was in the air. I had never cried so much in my entire life, losing two of the people that always gave me the confidence and uplifting I needed to make it through life. I had lost my pseudo sports talk show co-hosts if you will. Plus, I started playing collegiate football that Spring… and they wouldn’t be there physically.
I asked God so many times why this happened and then it hit me last July when I was one of the three winners of the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar competition.
I remembered everything that not only they told me, but what my dad had told me about being a man, believing in yourself and never giving up on your dreams or anyone because even if they couldn’t be there physically, they are always there supporting me.
Each time I took the field during my college football career, I always found a way to pay tribute to them even if I wasn’t playing. When it came time to raise our helmets during the National Anthem, I would always beat my chest two times, one for each of my granddads, kiss my two fingers and point up above because I knew they were there.