The name Jim Stynes may not mean anything to anyone outside of Australia or Ireland, but he was a lag end and today he lost his battle with cancer.
His death was announced by Australian media today. He is survived by his wife Samantha, daughter Matisse and son Tiernan.
The story of the skinny Irish kid who traveled halfway around the world to try his hand at Australian Rules Football is well known to anyone who knows anything about Aussie Rules. Stynes was one of the first to be recruited to AFL from Gaelic football. As luck would have it, Stynes wasn't an immediate success and that is where the legend started to take hold.
After initially being cut loose, he redoubled his efforts and fought back to establish himself as one of the all-time greats. His height and versatility made him a formidable opponent and he rose to achieve the game's highest honour, the Brownlow Medal (the AFL equivalent of an MVP) in 1991 for his beloved Melbourne Football Club.
Stynes didn't become a legend on the strength of his sporting abilities alone. His work outside of the game earned him the respect and admiration of people from all walks of life. He started a charity, the Reach Foundation, to help steer vulnerable children down the right path in life. His achievements and honours are many.
He holds the record for the most consecutive games of football, a record which speaks volumes of his strength, courage and resilience—qualities that served him well in the fight against cancer.
He was inducted into the Australian Rules Hall of Fame and awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to youth and his sport. He was twice named Victorian of the Year, but perhaps most importantly, he was accepted as one of Australia's true heroes.
He made his name in a sport that engenders fierce tribal loyalties amongst team supporters, but transcended that to earn the respect and admiration of people across the nation and from all walks of life.
The world is a poorer place for his passing.
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