Stafon Johnson was the returning leading rusher at USC and a future NFL draft pick, who's life just got turned upside down. One minute he was lifting weights with NFL dreams in mind, two seconds later he was fighting for his life after his weight bar fell on him crushing his neck and larynx.
Gene Upshaw was successfully running the NFL Player's Associations and preparing himself for another tough battle with the NFL owners over the collective bargaining agreement. Upshaw went to the doctor on Sunday, because he wasn't feeling well, found out he had pancreatic cancer and on Wednesday he took his last breath.
Nick Schuyler was enjoying a fishing trip with his boys NFL players Corey Smith, Marquis Cooper and Will Bleakley, when the weather made a turn for the worst and he was the only one left clinching for dear life when the search and rescue team showed up.
Nick Adenhart was a 22 year old rookie pitcher for the Angels who had comeback from major elbow surgery to throw six scoreless innings with his proud father in the stands watching. He was out celebrating that night with friends when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
Life is CRAZY!! It's amazing how suddenly things can change. Your life can look as if it's moving in one direction and BOOM an atomic bomb hits your world and flips everything upside down. It could be a phone call, a car accident, a letter in the mail, a knock at the door, a tweet, or a blue line on a pregnancy test instead of a pink one. At some point in time it will happen to everybody, no one is immune to life's cataclysmic upheavals.
You can have the marriage and family you've always dreamed of, then the phone rings, or you get a knock at the door. Whether it be the police, another man/woman, or a good friend, your world can come crashing down faster than the Twin Towers. There is no manual or instructions for preparing for the unexpected and heart breaking. Even if there was one, it wouldn't work. No one can predict or plan how they will feel, react, or respond to news that the 'World' they once knew has been turned upside down.
I still remember being woke up in the middle of the night to phone calls and texts that my teammate and friend Richard Collier had been shot and was fighting for his life. One day he was battling for a starting position on the Jaguars O-line, the next he was dealing with the fact that he would never walk again. Big Rich is an extraordinary man who I admire and respect so much for how he has dealt with this situation and how he has continued to live his life and not take any day for granted.
You have to cherish each and every moment you have with those you love because things can change in an instant and you don't want to be left saying, "I wish I would have..." "If I would have only...". ESPN Sports Columnist Jemele Hill wrote an article remembering a good friend of hers that was killed in an auto-accident. In that article she wrote, "I've come to the conclusion that in the five year's since Danny's death IF is the cruelest word in the English language". That is so very true. The shoulda, woulda, couldas, and ifs can mentally beat you down to the point where you blame yourself.
We spend so much time trying to get ahead, finish our degree, grind, get in shape, and achieve maximum success that sometimes we forget to cherish the present. Family, friends, loved ones, health and life in general are invaluable commodities that we sometimes neglect to appreciate will striving to obtain personal goals and material things. Let's not wait for a life-threatening injury, disease, dismantling of a marriage, a loss loved one, an end of a career or something major for us to take a step back and appreciate the blessings we have.