We often question what keeps players motivated throughout a game. And especially those games where the fans and sometimes even the players feel like there is just no coming through with a victory.
Is it the fans screaming their loudest R-O-L-L-T-I-D-E cheer of the season?
Is it the players keeping in mind their mother's voice saying "You can do it baby?"
Or could it be something like a young fan that keeps them motivated to do better? A young fan that is going through harder times than that player is at the time that keeps them going through those last few minutes of a game.
I went out to find stories of players making an impact on fans and the way they live life, but I came upon something much more interesting.
I found an amazing story of a young boy and LSU left tackle Ciron Black. And for an Alabama fan to write something about an LSU player, you know it has to be good.
Mikey was an 8 year old little boy at the time undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. After having a bad reaction to chemotherapy, he was paralyzed, partly blind, and he would be in the hospital at least another year.
But the more important fact was that Mikey is an LSU fan and he loved watching LSU football when the season came around.
When Mikey's parents and friends wrote several LSU players for prayers and a few kind words Ciron Black did a little more. He found his page on CaringBridge.org and left the following response:
Hey Michael, I recently saw your story and wanted to have the honor to write in your guest book. My name is Ciron Black. I am the left tackle for the LSU Tigers football team. I’m also number 70 and I saw you wearing that jersey number, that’s a great number by the way. You know some people see us as heroes because of how we play but the truth is people like yourself are the real heroes. I see all the small problems I face are nothing compared to the hardships that you may go through. God has a plan for all of us and for some reason he put it on my heart to write you tonight … if it is at all possible I would love to talk to you. My number is xxx-xxx-xxxx anytime day or night if you need someone to talk to. Hang in there buddy and just know that anything is possible through Christ.
P.S. I would love to write your name on my wrist tape as I get ready to take the field on Jan. 7th for the national championship. Let me know if that is OK.
Mikey did call him and Black certainly did wear Mikey's name on his wrist tape during that game which Mikey was able to watch even though his doctor's said there would be no way that he could make a recovery in time.
LSU won that National Championship and Ciron Black said he would return this year to play his Senior season for the Tigers even though he would be a top twenty pick for the NFL Draft.
He wanted to play one more season for Mikey and the Tigers.
Ciron Black is an inspiration to other players and people in general. I found it amazing that Black said "people think we are heroes but you are the actual hero." And he is exactly right.
Ciron Black did something to help someone else without giving it a second thought. He didn't hold back and he just let himself hope and pray that this little boy would be OK and pull through.
Mikey served as Black's inspiration and Black served as Mikey's inspiration to get better. And now, Mikey's cancer is in remission.
Never forget about the power you can have to help someone and make them better. This LSU player certainly didn't and it's something to keep in mind while watching this young man play football for the LSU Tigers this '09 season.
Read more about this story in this month's Sports Illustrated.