My love for sports is deeply embedded in my soul.
I’ve been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories of childhood revolve around watching and enjoying the spectacle of sports.
At the age of six, my two heroes were "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Jeff Gordon. What a pair of heroes they were!
I remember sitting on my father’s lap while watching Austin throw the Intercontinental Belt into a river.
I can also remember watching, with my Grandpa Farver, Jeff Gordon winning the 1998 NASCAR Championship.
Those aren't the only two guys who fueled my ever-growing passion for sports. I loved to watch team sports as well. My favorite teams were the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls.
Of course, I was a big fan of Michael Jordan, and still am to this day.
However, when my mother once offered to get a Bulls jersey for me, instead of asking for a Michael Jordan jersey, like most kids at that time would, I asked for a Dennis Rodman jersey.
So, by the age of six, I had already learned to appreciate a good defender and rebounder; well, that, and I liked his flamboyant hair and attitude!
I have also been steeped in Notre Dame Football fan since I left the hospital after being born. The very first outfit I wore was a Notre Dame baby outfit.
So, with the help of Steve Austin, Jeff Gordon, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, and Notre Dame football, I became a huge sports fan at an early age.
But no one helped me find sports more than one person: My Grandpa Farver.
He is the biggest reason for me being a sports fan. Our favorite teams are all the same and the way we look at the sporting world is very similar. In fact, you might say that I modeled my opinions of sports after his.
Without him, I'm not sure whether or not I would be a sports fan at all. I can guarantee, though, that without him I wouldn’t be anywhere close to the fan I am today.
It is with him that I remember watching most of my first sporting events with, and still to this day I watch many sporting events with him.
He gave me the Notre Dame baby outfit, showed me my first Cubs' game, and it was with him that I watched an Andre the Giant documentary. I had already been a pro wrestling fan but after watching that documentary my passion for pro wrestling grew.
He did tell me after watching the documentary that pro wrestling was fake, but I didn't understand how it could be fake, nor did I care (I now know that the results are pre-determined).
That is the kind of person he is, though. If he doesn't like something or he feels fervently about something, he will tell you.
His love for his favorite teams is only outweighed by his abhorrence towards their rivals and opponents.
While watching a NASCAR race with my Grandpa a few months ago, we saw close to five Tony Stewart commercials.
Every time they would pop onto the TV screen, he would quickly turn the channel!
It’s the same way with Ozzie Guillen, Brett Favre, and Kyle Busch. That's just an illustration of how much he loves his favorite teams, how much he detests their rivals.
That, and other attributes, makes him the biggest sports fan I know. He would watch every sporting event he could, which was a lot.
Then, on April 21, 2009, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This significantly altered his way of living.
After just two months of being diagnosed with ALS, he is a shell of his old self. He can no longer walk, hold long conversations, or find humor in many things.
He still has his undivided passion for sports, though. He is still on top of the sports world and is up to date on what is happening in the world of sports.
Thank God it is baseball season, too. Baseball is not only his favorite sport but it is on every day, which means he can find entertainment and relaxation almost every day.
While he watches the Cubs play, I notice something quite extraordinary: he is at peace. All of the problems in the world seem to go away for that time (well, except for the Cubs' hitting woes, but that’s another story altogether).
I also notice something else while he watches the Cubs play: he doesn't hesitate to smile. Making him smile as of late is a hard task, and when he does smile, it's a great moment for everyone.
He still wears a Chicago Cubs or Notre Dame jersey almost every day. If you ask him the start time of an upcoming sporting event for one of his favorite teams, he can tell you with ease. He also watches all nine innings of play for the Cubs, depending on the start time.
Although he can no longer do things he once could, he remains the biggest sports fan I know. I hope I can remain a sports fan as long as he has and hopefully when life throws adversity my way, I will maintain my passion for sports, too.
My Grandpa Farver gave me one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever pass on to another human being: the world of sports.
He opened the door to sports for me and as soon as the door opened, I was flooded with thoughts, goals, wild imaginations, and most importantly, a lifetime full of happiness and ecstasy.
I hope I can pass my passion for sports onto my son, and his son, as well as my Grandpa was able to pass it along to me.
Thank you, Grandpa, and I hope to watch many more games and sporting events with you.
I love you.