It was a typical lunch hour last summer. I was surfing the radio channels for some new about the upcoming basketball season. Then I heard one of the most recognizable voices in sports, Dick Vitale.
I had no idea that what Dick would say would not ease my anticipation of the upcoming basketball season but would help me rise over a hurdle I had been struggling with for thirty years.
It took me back to the white walls of the girls bathroom at Danville High School my sophomore year. I made small talk with the girls as they gossiped, brushed their hair and applied lipstick. My watch was my ally. I would wait anxiously until 30 seconds before the class bell would ring and make the run to my next class. No one knew my reason for being there between every class. No one asked.
I was hiding from a small group of girls who had decided I would be their target. They would make fun of my clothes, my hair, the way I walked, the way I talked. Their reasoning was not any physical defect of mine but a boy. I was being bullied.
This only lasted a few months but for a teenage girl it seemed forever. I still remember the pain today.
This small group of girls still reside in Danville. When I would encounter them (which is often) I still felt the pain. They act like we have been friends forever, but until that summer day last year I was not able to move past the bad memories.
Listening to Dick tell his story of bullying that day changed my life.
Dick had an accident with a pencil at a young age. This caused a “wandering eye,” preventing him to not be able to directly look at someone. He was tormented throughout out his school years even during sporting events. During his early days as ESPN he struggled with the idea of quitting because of the cruel comments by viewers and peers. He never gave up. He held no grudges. The rest is history.
Sometimes in life we have to move on. Forgiveness is hard when bad memories are etched deep into your heart.
Thanks to that brief interview I heard on the sunny day I have climbed that hurdle.
I will always remember listening that day.
Thank you Mr. Vitale for all that you do and for sharing your story.
You can listen to Dick Vitale tonight at 6:10 with Vinny Hardy and Terry Brown on @CatsTalkWed