Monday, February 18, 2013
LATIPHA CROSS, MY NEW HERO
Last week, Josh Hamilton told the media that God had been waking him up in the wee
hours of the morning so he could watch infomercials on "The Juice Lady." The new Angels
outfielder figured this was divine intervention and a call to juice fruit and vegetables, which
shed 20 pounds from Hamilton's 6'3" frame.
The year before, God told Albert Pujols to take the money and sign with the Angels. I wondered
in an article I recently posted, when God is going to quit talking to guys who are stinking rich
and give me some kind of sign or suggestion for my life.
Early Monday morning, I think He did.
I was awoken from a deep sleep to howling winds just outside my window. I couldn't sleep, so I
did what I always do. I raided the refrigerator and turned on the television. I don't normally flip
to ESPN anymore, the anchors always seem to be auditioning for "Comedy Central" and it's quite nauseating. But while surfing past it, I saw a picture of someone I had never seen before in the
flat screen and was intrigued. Stu "Boo-Yeah" Scott was introducing a story about a girl who
had been a tremendous athlete in Detroit. I was glued to the TV and was suddenly amazed,
inspired, and truly moved by what I seeing.
Latipha Cross was a then-17-year old junior who had born into a life of hard knocks delivered by
a sledgehammer. Her mother abandon her when she was six, she saw her sister killed, got beat up
by her foster parents, sexually abused by her biological father, and was homeless during the final
years of her high school career. Um, those are what you called being dealt some real bad cards.
But it gets worse. Cross battled cancer, not once, but twice before she graduated. Still, she
found the strength and determination to set the Michigan state record in the 400-meter run. Media
members often describe certain players as "warriors" and "heroes" just because they beat a blitz
or buck the odds of being a low-round draft pick to reach stardom in a professional league. Please.
If they read the story about Cross, they would all be embarrassed.
I sat on my couch frozen and in awe of this physically small girl with the heart the size of that
meteor that landed in Russia. Abused, homeless, cancer-ridden, and she never gave up and never gave in. She had been sleeping in a park somewhere near Detroit wondering if she'd even make it through the night. Yet, she somehow has the will, focus, and determination to become an elite
runner who earned a full-scholarship to Eastern Michigan. Unbelievable.
Latipha Cross is my new hero. Unlike Hamilton, I'm not certain that God woke me up at that
moment to make me watch five minutes of the most inspiring television in a long time, but I might just become a true believer.
Years ago, my life couldn't be better. I was enjoying life in the fast lane. I was single, had my
dream job, and was making a lot of money. Then one of life's Mack trucks hit me. It not only knocked me off the road but it turned around and ran me over several more times. Then
my father died. We've all dealt with adversity, but all these hits just seemed to keep on coming.
Somebody once said, "It's not what happens to you in life, but how you react to it that matters."
I never quit and I'm truly thankful for being blessed with the great things I have been in my life,
but I often wondered where all these hard knocks were taking me.
After watching the story of Latipha Cross early this morning, I am no longer wondering. God often
tests our will, spirit, and belief in ourselves. He tested Cross again and again and again with hardships
that few people have ever had to endure. Ever. She kept getting knocked down by the fiercest of
punches and just kept getting back up to achieve her dream. And she did.
Latipha Cross may never win another race or show up on ESPN ever again, but she is the most
amazing person I've never met and my hero.