Derek Jeter and Christian Lopez are all over the news regarding the infamous 3,000th hit ball. Most of the media is applauding Lopez for giving the ball to Jeter. However, some thought he should have sold it to the highest bidder.
In our current sports culture, it's usually all about 'me and my money'. Every once in a while we get someone, whether an athlete, a fan, or a coach who does something extraordinary and not for themselves. They are not thinking about their ego or their fame; they are just doing something because it should be done.
Here is a list of other sports figures who put their egos aside and did something for the greater good.
Before coming to the Lakers, Ron Artest was the league's poster child bad boy. The 'Malice in the Palace', destroying cameras, and applying for a job at Circuit City to get an employee discount are not things that look good on a Hall of Fame résumé. After Artest went west, things changed.
After winning his first, and only championship (so far), he auctioned off his ring and donated the proceeds to numerous mental health charities. He also won the NBA's Walter Kennedy Citizenship award.
Athletes always talk about winning the ring. Artest showed that winning really isn't everything.
Pat Tillman exemplifies selflessness. He left a promising multi-million dollar career as an all pro-safety to join the US Army after the September 11th attacks. His death was tragically marred in controversy and cover-up.
Tillman showed us that sports are not the most important thing in the world. How many other pro players would leave their careers and serve their country? Tillman was a talented athlete, but more importantly, a shining example of service, bravery and courage.
Brooks Laich did something that most of us would never do: stop and help a distressed motorist. He was probably already in a foul mood due to a Game 7 elimination. He noticed a mother and daughter on the side of the road obviously needing help and went straight to work replacing their tire.
At the end of the encounter when Laich was asked how the mom and daughter could possibly thank him, Laich responded, 'I'm sure you'll do something nice for someone in the future.'
It is refreshing to know that behind the glitz and glamour, there are pro athletes that are generally nice men and women.
The late 1950's were dark days for race relations in America. There was segregation and the passage of the civil rights bill was years away. Rochester Royals forward Jack Twyman defied the national trend.
Teammate Maurice Stokes suffered a severe head injury during a game and the injury worsened from getting on an airplane a few days later. He suffered severe brain damage and was left permanently paralyzed. Twyman took Stokes in and became his legal guardian and caretaker until Stokes' death in 1970.
No one asked Twyman to take care of Stokes. He did it under his own accord. Twyman exemplifies the word teammate.
Twyman still organizes the Maurice Stokes memorial charity golf game in honor of his friend. Their story was made in to the movie Maurie in 1973.
Roberto Clemente has always been known as one of baseball's good guys. As a pioneer of Latin American baseball, he paved the way with respect, class, and extremely good baseball.
Deeply concerned for the plight of Latin America, Clemente organized relief efforts after a massive earthquake in Nicauragua. It was reported that most of the aid did not reach the people due to corruption. Clemente took it upon himself to ensure that the next round of aid would be delivered to those in need. Tragically, he died when his airplane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Many athletes do extraordinarily charitable work and donate a lot of their money. Clemente went the extra mile by personally organizing and delivering aid. He was a tragic loss for the game of baseball.
If we were unfairly robbed of perfection in our careers, most of us would be angry, upset, and frustrated. Not Armando Galarraga. The Tiger's pitcher threw eight and two-thirds innings of perfect ball. Then he lost it. Umpire Jim Joyce later admitted that he blew the call at first base.
But Galarraga didn't whine, moan, or get in the umpire's face. He simply smiled ,went about his business and got the next man out. In the next Galarraga brought out the lineup card and the men exchanged handshakes. Joyce publicly apologized to Galarraga and the pitcher responded with a simple, 'nobody's perfect'.
Both Joyce and Galarraga exemplified humility and the true meaning of the word sportsmanship.
In the 21st century, sports has become the opiate of the masses. We care deeply about teams, games, and players that, in the big picture, do not really affect our lives in any meaningful way. Pro Sports is also a billion dollar industry with little accountability, excessive greed, and gaudy showmanship.
So why do we care? We care because we see ourselves in the players. We feel for OUR teams. They brings us together.
Then there are people, like Christian Lopez, who remember that doing the right thing more important than any game.
I'm sure there are many players and acts that I forgot. What is your most memorable?