I’ve written before about badly behaving athletes and the fact that they share the same human struggles as the rest of us, despite the pedestals we put them on. It’s not often we see a pro sports player doing something genuine, without cameras, not for publicity or as some court or league mandated punishment. I know that many players have charities or foundations and that is a wonderful thing, but we rarely see a personal glimpse into the small gestures that can mean the most.
So thank you, Matt Kemp, for sharing a different side of the sports world for us. Thank you, for showing that for every Michael Vick, there is a Matt Kemp. While I still believe that athletes should not be role models, we all need to see more things like this then all the negativity the media shows us.
For those of you not familiar with sports, Matt Kemp is a Major League Baseball player with the LA Dodgers. During last week’s game he learned of a terminally ill fan at the game with his father. Despite a tough road loss, despite the boos from the rival crowd during the game, despite a tough season, here was an athlete who knew there was more to life than sports – much more.
After the game ended, Kemp went to the stands were the young man was sitting and preceded to remove not only to sign the baseball a coach had given him, but to strip off his cap, his jersey and even shoes and hand them to the boy. There were no TV cameras, no interviews, no publicity; just an incredibly poignant moment between strangers. Knowing that nothing could erase the pain of this father and son, Kemp did what he could to bring them a moment of joy, even just a brief one, before returning to the dugout barefoot.
Turned out there was one camera; a friend at the game with the family caught the touching exchange on video. Thank goodness he did, because now as that video goes viral the world gets to see something worth celebrating even more than a win, something that we rarely see – a random act of kindness.
For those of you who haven’t seen the video (or want to watch it again), I’ve included it below. May Matt Kemp inspire all of us to brighten someone’s day with even a small gesture. You never know just how much it might mean to someone.