This may come as a surprise to you, but this letter won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. You and I both know the whirlwind of events and challenges it took to establish your place in the world today, but remember, so much more lies ahead. This letter will not remind you of your strengths, your weaknesses or all the things in between; you know all of those already.
Sometimes, you just need a reminder of the promises you made to yourself.
You’ve always had a strong will and an ability to overcome any obstacle in your way. You promised to never let anything get in the way of your goals that you wanted most in life. Senior year, you thought college baseball would take you to your next step in life. You expected to sign somewhere and spend the next four years getting an education, all while living out your dream of playing collegiate baseball.
Early on you learned how things really can change in the blink of an eye. On Black Friday in 2015 you went out shopping just like in years passed. Little did you know that your world would be flipped upside down in just a few hours. Around two in the morning you dropped your girlfriend off and headed for home. A couple miles from home and a drunk driver swerved in your lane and smashed your car into the divider. At the hospital you learned of some nerve damage to your back and traumatic head injuries. Just like that with no timeline for return to the field, the scholarships were gone. You quickly were left trying to figure out plan B.
The thought of being done with sports for the rest of your life killed you. What is left to do when the passion someone has known their whole life is taken away in the blink of an eye? In the days following the accident you spent all your time lying in bed watching TV, ESPN to be exact. Then it clicked—your way to connect your passion for sports with a career. You always had a love for writing from the time you were young, so why not combine writing with your passion for sports, not to mention get paid for it?
Now, your dream is to work at ESPN, and if a drunk driver couldn’t make you fold, then nothing will. You will get told a million times, “No I don’t want to be interviewed,” or, “You don’t have enough experience for this job. I think we are going to go in a different direction.” Don’t let a simple no stop you from following you dream. You possess talent as a writer, and you do incredible work. Make sure you keep that confidence you have inside of you. Your confidence, your drive and your will to overcome obstacles will pay off so you can end up at the top in your career field. That perfect job as a sideline reporter or anchor at ESPN will come, you just need to be patient and stay driven.
When you reach that top job remember who stuck with you on your way up. You were born and raised in Reading, PA. And anybody who knows the place never has anything good to say.The town consisted of about 100,000 people with 45 percent of those people living in poverty. The city was known for gang violence with one of the highest crime and murder rates in the United States. Kids as early as 14 were getting involved in gang activity and going in and out of jail. You grew up surrounded by pessimism; no one believed you or your friends could achieve anything. You grew up constantly battling to break stereotypes; working effortlessly to prove yourself and show that your surroundings do not determine your success.
All your closest friends, Scottie, KJ, Eli, Korahn, Molly and Dania, heard the same things. Friends you guys had since you were in elementary school got arrested and were taken out of school in handcuffs. Some friends had kids and had to leave school to provide for their family. Unfortunately, you even lots a few friends to violence along the way. You faced these unique challenges together, challenges that no one else can understand. That makes your bond stronger. Keep them close to you long past high school.
You will find that the older you get, the harder it becomes to find time to meet up. You each have your own lives and your own career paths ahead. Your schedules don’t always match up. You’ve probably already learned this from the first two summers home. This change occurs inevitably. You can no longer just send a text and meet up for dinner, basketball games or the summer barbecue or party at Eli’s house. But good friends prove hard to come by, and the bond you form with them over the years should never be broken. Different schools, different careers and different areas won’t make a difference if you keep them close, allow them to ground you and never forget where you came from.
With that said, you only have one bond in your life stronger than that of your best friends: your family. Your family sacrificed a lot to provide you with the great life you have now, and you made a promise to always love and cherish them.
Now onto the big guy: your dad. You and him had some tough nights. I know you remember him reaming you out as your coach in coach pitch baseball. He was harder on you than anyone else on the team; but no matter how good of a game you had, he always told you where you need to improve. Your first year of tackle football (keep in mind you played with older kids) you were not a fan of getting hit. He made you keep your pads on that first night after practice. He tackled you to the ground and told you nobody would ever hit you as hard as he would. You cried and yelled at him, and he reminded you that he didn’t hurt you. And though he didn’t, you weren’t going to tell him that.
It boils down to this: He simply wanted to mold you into the best version of yourself. And he did whatever he could to give you the best. He worked hard to give you the life that he never had, and you will be forever thankful for the sacrifices he made and the memories you made because of him: countless sporting events, Bruce Springsteen concerts, beach trips and so many other things. You would stay up all night sitting on his bed with him listening to stories about his childhood and his career, and you thought about how much he inspired you. You still hope to be like him one day. The funny thing is, everyone can see your similarities. You have the exact same personality, sense of humor and so much more—everyday, you become closer to becoming an incredible man like him.
Your mother—oh my god, your mother—she drives you insane at times. She talks in circles, nags you religiously, embarrasses you in front of girls and annoys the hell out of you. But she’s your mother and at the end of the day she means the world to you. A certain bond exists between a mother and son that no other bond can replicate. Your mother went through some tough times growing up and even in adulthood and yet she always kept the mindset that better days lay ahead. In a way you have a lot of her in you and while you have the chip on your shoulder like your dad, you have the resilience and optimism of your mom. Oh and you also talk in circles at times like your mom so remember that next time you get short with her because she repeats herself when talking to you.
She works long hours at her job to give you the best life she can. She sacrifices her little free time to hang out at home and watch a movie with you. She sits down and asks you about your day to make sure that you don’t have anything you need to talk about or ask her for advice. These memories last a lifetime and will forever be engrained in your mind. At the end of the day she is your biggest supporter in everything you do, sorry dad mom just doesn’t give me as much constructive criticism.
Take care of your parents when you get older. They’ve given you so much, and you owe them everything. Make sure they have everything they need, and you visit them as often as you can. Of course, intermittent visits don’t even compare to the sacrifices they’ve made for you. It is a start though. Above all, make sure you thank them all the time, and make sure they know you love them.
This about sums up the promises you made to yourself. When you read this, I hope you find that you’ve held true to them. They will shape you into the best possible version of yourself, and that is what’s most important.