Posts Tagged ‘Rick Reilly’

When Life Kicks You Down, Kick Back

January 11, 2012

The business of professional sports is unforgiving. It is a pure meritocracy, with no excuses tolerated for poor performance: You’ve got problems at home? I’m sorry to hear that, but I don’t want to hear about it. Leave your personal life at the locker room door and go do your job.

It’s an environment that is ripe for feel-good stories of redemption and triumph. Like this stellar story by writer Rick Reilly about San Francisco 49ers placekicker David Akers.


David Akers had a rough ending to the 2010 season. Professional and personal turnarounds made for a different story in 2011 (photo by Jason O. Watson of US Presswire)

This is the show-stoppingest year for QBs in NFL history, which is how San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers’ story ended up in 4-point font.

Too bad. It would look nice on Paramount Pictures’ summer schedule.

Yes, Akers, 37, had the finest kicking season in NFL history this year, but that’s just the riding-off-into-the-sunset part.

The crying-in-the-shower part was exactly a year ago last week — wild-card weekend — when his Philadelphia Eagles were about to host the Green Bay Packers. The day before the game, doctors found a tumor on the ovary of (more…)

Rick Reilly Remembers John Wooden

June 17, 2010 writer Rick Reilly filmed the above four-minute video near the end of 2009 when legendary basketball coach John Wooden was ninety-nine years old. Wooden was revered as much, if not more, for his greatness as a human being as for his basketball career.

After Wooden died on June 4, 2010, Reilly wrote this poignant tribute for

John Wooden

The awful thing about knowing John Wooden was that when you left him, you realized how weak you were as a man.

Every time I left his little 700-square-foot condo in Encino, Calif., full of books and learning and morals, it would hit me how far short of him I fell.

He made me want to be (more…)

Stricken Kids + Yankee Stadium = Dreams Come True

August 20, 2009

Imagine being a kid with a rare disease that keeps you isolated from life. Now imagine getting a brief reprieve from that nightmarish existence where, for one night, you can simply enjoy being a kid. As columnist Rick Reilly wrote in ESPN The Magazine, the New York Yankees went to great lengths to make that dream come true.


Rick Reilly

The team facing Yankees ace A.J. Burnett a few weeks back at Yankee Stadium has to go down as the oddest in baseball history.

For one thing, it plays only at night. The players have no choice. Even one minute of sunshine can kill them.

They’re from Camp Sundown, in Craryville, N.Y., and they live life on the other side of the sun. All of them have the rare disease known as XP — xeroderma pigmentosum. If kids with XP catch the slightest UV ray, they can and do develop cancerous tumors. Even fluorescent lights fry their skin like boiling oil. Most of them don’t live to be 20.

So how could they take the field at Yankee Stadium? Because this was 3 a.m. Superstar right-handers should be tucked into bed by then, yet there was Burnett, throwing Wiffle-ball splitters and chasing down line drives.

There is no cure for XP. If you’re born with it, you’re (more…)

Praising Arizona

April 11, 2009

arizona-diamondbacks-logoThe Arizona Diamondbacks are now my favorite baseball team. Why? Read Rick Reilly’s column in ESPN The Magazine. For a relatively small investment, the Diamondbacks are benefiting from an avalanche of good will that twenty times that amount spent on advertising couldn’t match. I hope other pro teams follow Arizona’s lead. Bravo!



ESPN columnist Rick Reilly

Here’s a scoop for you. The Diamondbacks are flagrantly violating MLB rules. They’re a pro team, and yet they’re giving out full-ride scholarships. Been doing it for two years now!

Not to their players. To their fans.

It’s an idea D-backs CEO Derrick Hall came up with at one game when a season ticket-holder who’d lost everything, even her car, introduced herself. She told him a fan in her section had bought her two season tickets for the rest of the year, even picked her up every game and took her home. And Hall thought, Why don’t we do this for our fans? So he asked fans to send in “applications” for scholarships. Soon, his e-mail in-box was swamped.

My 13-year-old nephew is a huge fan. He is a really good kid but gets bullied for his (more…)

A Shot in the Dark

March 16, 2009

Matt Steven: Hoops hero!

I love this piece by ESPN columnist RIck Reilly. It’s easy to forget that people who live with disabilities often want nothing more than to simply fit in with “normal” society, to be part of a group instead of being permanently relegated to the sidelines. I can’t imagine what that’s like, nor can I fully appreciate the exhilaration that Matt Steven surely felt on this magical day.

A few seconds left. The game teeters on these two free throws. The shooter gulps. The packed gym goes silent, save for the tapping of a white cane on the back of the rim. That’s right. The shooter’s brother is under the hoop, rapping a cane on the rim. That’s because the shooter, Matt Steven, is blind.

So why is a blind kid in a competitive CYO game for sighted high schoolers in Upper Darby, Pa.? Because he doesn’t like to miss anything — especially free throws.

Matt, a senior, had been on the St. Laurence CYO team for a year and never played in a game — never expected to. “He just likes being on the team,” says Matt’s brother and coach, Joe. Matt shoots free throws every practice, though, making about half. And that’s what gave Joe a crazy, unthinkable, wonderful idea.

Before a charity tourney this past February, Joe asked the other teams if Matt could shoot all of St. Laurence’s free throws. Amazingly, (more…)