And a Happy Friday to all of you out there; just a few more days before my favorite holiday of the year is upon us.
We start today with yet another example of LeBron James’ innate goodness as a human being. These stories pop up way too often for them to be fake displays of kindness and human emotion; LeBron is, and has always been, an athlete who gets it.
This most recent gesture comes after a beautiful column by Gregg Doyel in the Indianapolis Star. The story tells of a high school kid named Emanuel Duncan (above, left), who loves sports (basketball especially) but suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a particularly awful disease that often kills people before they reach 20 years old.
Duncan is a member of the Lawrence Central football team in Indiana, but hoops is his real passion. He’s been crossing things off his bucket list left and right, he’s got an incredibly positive attitude that rubs off on everyone he meets, and he’s been an inspiration at his school.
His No.1 dream, though? To meet LeBron. The Cavs play the Pacers in Indiana on Feb. 1, and Emanuel is hoping to meet his hero then.
“He inspires me to do everything,” Emanuel says of LeBron. “To be a good person, to put other people first, to live your life and do what makes you happy. If I meet LeBron James, that would make my day. I wouldn’t ask for anything.”
Well… LeBron James heard about Emanuel Duncan. And he wrote him a beautiful letter, and some signed jerseys and other stuff. The letter is here, and asked about it, LeBron said this:
“I’m in a position that I owe with a lot of responsibility to give back to my fans and to be able to be a role model to them. It’s something I take very, very seriously.”
Dude just gets it. He just gets it. How could you not root for him?
**Next up today, a few words about a great new TV show that the wife and I just started watching.
“Red Oaks,” streaming on Amazon.com, is a funny, poignant and so-accurate look at life in suburban New Jersey in 1985, starring a 19-year-old accounting major named David who gets a job as an assistant tennis pro at a fancy-schmancy country club.
There are a host of dead-on 1980s-era characters in this fictional world: the blond, bubble-headed lifeguard (Misty) who dates the town jock-idiot but is lusted after by the chubby dude who valet parks at the club (Wheeler); the obnoxious club owner (Paul Reiser is fantastic), the sleazy event photographer, and the great Richard Kind as David’s father, fresh off a heart attack and back to fighting with his kvetchy wife (Jennifer Grey). The opening seconds of that trailer (above) kill me. “A C is a Jewish F, son!”
It’s a great slice of 1980s America, but it’s also really sharply written, well-acted, and a really fast 30 minutes of TV. (Only thing that bothers me is that only Misty has a Jersey accent, and it goes in and out.) We’ve watched five of the 10 episodes so far and like it more and more each time.
Check out “Red Oaks.” It’s a really fun show. And if you’re Gen X like me, scarily accurate portrait of your childhood.
**And finally today, a great human interest story first brought to my attention by avid blog reader Sanford.
Nephtali Flores, 17, of Santa Ana, Calif., plays baseball for both the Angels RBI Senior team and the Santa Ana High Saints varsity squad. He plays first base, and he hit .346 last season.
And oh yeah, as you can see, Flores has one arm.
His amazing story is told here in the Orange County Register by Marcia C. Smith. What a terrific kid.