Monday, August 24, 2009

Faith and Sports, when athletes REALLY need your prayers

"What Michael Jr. is going [through] is just a bump on the road we call life, Please pray for him, he needs it." –Michael Beasley Sr., Father of Miami Heat F Michael Beasley.

Reading or hearing something like this is usually a black flag. No one wants to hear “pray for him, he needs it”, but then again, doesn’t everybody need to be prayed for at one point or another?

I usually don’t start my blog posts like this. Here I just jumped in, instead of giving you a proper introduction. But this was all the introduction I need. I figured that now I can go over a topic that is somewhat controversial to many, not to me, but too many out there, Faith and Sports.

Why did I use the whole Michael Beasley saga as a jumping off point for this? Well today, I find out that the man who’s supposed to be the future of my favorite basketball team, the man who at the very least is expected to be the Scottie to Wade’s Jordan, at most the team’s main guy if Wade leaves next year, has checked into rehab. For what, it’s not quite certain. I know last year he was fined because he, along with other Heat draft pick Mario Chalmers and Grizzlies’ PF Darrell Arthur had a little party in their hotel room during the NBA’s Rookie Symposium that might’ve involved the use of marijuana. We also know that Beasley was a happy go-lucky good, probably a little too happy go-lucky, you know the type of mood you’d expect from Tommy Chong or Snoop Dogg.

However, it seems to me like this is a problem that’s not so much drug related (I hate calling it that btw, I don’t think weed should even be illegal, too much scientific evidence points to it helping people more than hurting people, and it hasn’t killed a single person in history, as Katt Williams says, Marijuana is a plant that just so happens that when you set it on fire it will get you high. I don’t do it but I’m not against it, if that makes any sense to you) as it is with something else, something far worse that can and does lead to drug use: depression.

I’ve been following Be Easy on twitter since I first got a twitter account in April. Like with most celebrity tweets, whatever he’s said on there I’ve kind of just glossed over, no big deal. After all, I don’t look to Michael Beasley for anything profound; I just look for him to put up 20 points 10 rebounds a game next year and work on his defense. But what I didn’t notice were obvious cries for help he had posted on his account.

"Feelin like it's not worth livin!!!!!!! I'm done"

"I feel like the whole world is against me I can't win for losin"

Usually, if you receive a text like this from one of your best friends, your first reaction is to call him or her and see what’s going on, see what you can do to help. While I may follow Be Easy on Twitter, I don’t know him personally, there’s only one thing I can possibly do, pray for him. I've been through this situation in the past, I didn't need rehab, but I did need a wake up call, something to tell me that life truly was worth living, and my relationship with God only got stronger because of it. So you can say that I know what Michael Beasley is going through, and that makes it easier for me to identify with him. (Weird note, I was around the same age too.)

I usually don’t mix sports and prayer. I’m not the type of sports fan that prays for my team to win, really that’s just stupid and self-indulgent, and God has more important things to worry about than a game. I don’t pray for athletes to perform well, again, God has more important things to worry about. In a world with two conflicts going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, genocide in Darfur, communist dictatorships in North Korea, China, and Cuba, people dying every day in drug wars on the US-Mexico border, crime going on in every major American city at any time, the results of a game, just a silly game, is inconsequential. I don’t even pray when an athlete gets injured because, I know that he’ll have the best medical team available and he’ll be back to normal quicker than you could ever imagine.

But this is something different, this is about a 20 year old kid, one who probably grew up too fast and too soon, and has lived in the spotlight since he was 16-17 tearing it up in the DC area where high school hoops makes you a local (and now a day’s national) celebrity. We’ve seen this story play out before of the high school hoops phenom, some of them turn out very well (LeBron, KG, Kobe) sometimes not so well (Sebastian Telfair, or even worse, Eddie Griffin who committed suicide by deliberately ignoring a railroad sign while driving and allowing a train to hit his SUV) but this isn’t a story condemning the state of young basketball players, we’ve had plenty of those. But the question of too much too soon still applies here. Fact is some people handle these things differently from others. For every LeBron and Kobe, there are at least 10 Telfairs, 10 Griffins, and a few like Be Easy.

So while he may be an athlete and might not get much sympathy for his plight, he has my sympathy; and he has my prayers. Anyone who’s going through depression and feels the need to use alcohol or drugs as an escape from it is someone who needs help and prayers. I’d say this whether Beasley played for the Heat, the Pistons, or the Knicks. Hell if Tom Brady or Albert Pujols were going through this, I’d say the same thing. Hopefully in rehab, Be Easy can get his life back together and can shine like the star everyone expects him to become. He doesn’t even have to do this in a Heat uniform or even on the basketball court, but in his life. Beasley really seems like he’s a good kid. Yes I called him a kid, because he is still just a kid, 20 years old. I hope he gets help for him, and for his daughter, who is only three months old. As much as I’d love to see him as the next great power forward, he also has to be the next great father, both of which he’s more than capable of.

So I will be praying for Michael Beasley when I go to bed tonight, praying that he can overcome his issues, and that he may emerge from all of this as a stronger man, and this helps him grow up.

And selfishly, if it also improves his defense on the court, it will be a major bonus.

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