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Ode to the man bigger than Zeus…

My freshman year at the University of California at Berkeley,  I fell 57 feet off a place called “the rock” in the Berkeley hills…

I broke my arm, my hand, my leg, my tail bone and had multi-skull fractures. I was in a coma for 17 days and should have died.

That day a friend and I had gone to drink and dream…

The rock is a mountain cliff with beautiful views of the S.F. bay and surrounding areas.

Stupidly, I got drunk and fell off the mountain.

After taking a year and a half off school to rehabilitate – I went back to University, but I could no longer swim competitively and quit the sport.

One day… the football coach heard about my accident and contacted me to speak to the football team … he wanted me to discuss the consequences of drinking.

As my American readers understand … speaking to your university’s football team (who at the time were ranked top 10 in the country) is a very big deal …. so I really prepared for it.

My speech was at a hotel, after an alumni dinner … with the team and their parents.

After the dinner, the coach called me on stage ….

I explained to the team that I had been just a fairly good swimmer…. although I had dreams/goals of becoming great, I never achieved close to my talent …. one of the several reasons why I never achieved my full potential was because I let drinking, partying, and picking up girls (superficial pleasures) get in the way of my focus and goals.

I got really into the speech….it all clicked for me….because I was speaking from the heart.

I said to them something like:

“some of you guys have the potential to become NFL players and make a career with football and potentially millions of dollars playing the game you love … so do not let something as stupid as drinking/partying get in the way of your focus.”

At the end of my speech, I got a long standing ovation and invited to have desert and coffee with the Captains of the team.

I remember one of the captains … a “brad pitt” look a like who was built like Zeus…6’6″ (2 meters) and 240 lbs of pure muscle (120 kilos) a stud … definitely, he could pick up just about any girl he wanted… but he asked me, “how do you “not” drink….? don’t you feel uncomfortable?” I was shocked …. here is the ultimate male specimen basically telling me that he drinks because he needs to be “buzzed” to have the confidence to speak to women….. unbelievable.

at the same table listening to our conversation was one of the star players …. another guy built like Zeus, but even bigger …. he explained as well that drinking a couple beers made him more “loose” ….. and made several jokes and we all laughed.

I left that evening very proud … and over the season got invited to VIP parties with the team, etc.

Sadly….. around 9 months later, the guy who was bigger than Zeus… the star of the team who was projected to be the 4th overall pick in the NFL draft which was only a week or so away ….

without question this man was soon to be a multi-multi millionaire, broke his neck in a drunk driving accident and is paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life.

Surely, this man and his mother (whom was at that dinner and table that night I spoke to the team), surely they have thought about my speech and have incredible regret. It is a terribly sad story.

I am sure a couple loyal readers will comment that this entry is “very deep” …. but it is such a sad story that maybe a few readers will gain something positive from it — don’t let anything get in the way of your focus.

Up until that football players accident … I had been invited to speak to all the teams including the basketball team where Jason Kidd was the star, I also spoke to high schools around the country… but after this guy’s accident, I lost the drive…and I never agreed to speak again.

The world is full of exceptional people …. people who have the talent to be great football players; great business men and women; great leaders; etc………….

but how many people fail to achieve their full potential because something gets in the way of their focus?