These words weren’t supposed to happen. Truthfully, I’m not even sure what triggered them. This time of the year has always been catered to the NBA playoffs. My stance this year is well documented and, apart from that, I just love the game of basketball itself. The same way I do football. Then, from the upper deck of left field, it hit me while watching a late night edition of SportsCenter with, ironically, the instrumental to Master P’s “I Miss My Homies” playing through iTunes. Weird, I know, but it happened.
I miss Sean Taylor.
With the news ESPN would be bringing back the critically acclaimed – and probably top three initiative the company has ever embarked upon – “30 For 30″ series, I immediately thought of their Len Bias documentary. Having known Bias’ story for years, putting footage to my mental image already curated at the time was a powerful and emotional experience. I’m not afraid to admit my eyes welled up and even produced a few tears. It was just that powerful. Unfulfilled potential can produce those type of emotions and the clip of his father breaking down crying in front of the media damn near has me misty-eyed typing this.
No one wants to die before their time. We’re supposed to accomplish our dreams, get married, have kids and whatever else your image of the “American Dream” dictates. Unfulfilled potential is the worst burden to carry, mainly because the question of “what if” is a scar which never fades over time. You always wonder. You always wonder how much stronger and longer could the Celtics dynasty have been with Bias learning under Bird, McHale and Parish. You always wonder if Benjamin Wilson could have blossomed into the all-world talent his Chicago high school career suggested. You always wonder if Drazen Petrovic could have become a Hall of Famer. I mean, sh*t, you’ll always wonder what Trayvon Martin could have been had George Zimmerman followed 9-1-1’s orders.
For Sean Taylor, “what if” is the driver in his legacy’s car.
Sean and myself had always been connected at the hip for being polar opposites. He was a freakish athlete. I tore my ACL when I was the top rated seven year old in the country on a freak landing following a layup which forever altered my career. He attended the University of Miami. I was a Florida State fan that attended a historically black college in Hampton University. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins. I actually have common sense and root for the Dallas Cowboys. That whole spill about me tearing my ACL wasn’t exactly true, by the way. I’ll let you figure out what part isn’t.
The guy was a thorn in my side for as long as I could remember. Yet, one November morning I woke doing what I normally did to wake myself up and get ready for class. You all did it in college. Yeah, that. I immediately checked my phone to a text from my boy Dario who is a diehard ‘Skins fan. All it said was, “turn to SportsCenter right now.” The headline simply read “Sean Taylor Dead From Gunshot Wound.” You know, it’s weird. I’ve spent the majority of my life as a sports fan wishing ill will on the Redskins. Seeing them sign over-the-hill veterans for far more than they’re worth was comical and even seeing the team fall flat on their face after starting 2-0 is one of my finest joys.
This? As in death? As in he’s not coming back? It was one of those surreal moments in which the only thing you could do was watch television in shock.