COLUMN: The good stuff is usually saved for the funeral

It hasn’t been a very good June or July for celebrities. Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays and now Steve McNair leaves us after being brutally shot on Saturday in Nashville.
I’ve heard numerous people over the last few days say how glad they were to not be a celebrity. If they really believe that, I must say I fell somewhat sorry for them.
Death frankly doesn’t care if your famous or not, rich or not or what color the skin on your bones is. It’s going to get you at some point and that point may many times seem too early to us.
When people die, we’ve all heard what we talk about at the funerals or on television and in the media, how great the person was and how much of a joy they were to be around.
Why do we wait until people are dead to discuss that stuff?
Here’s some good stuff for the here-and-now.
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had it all. Drafted first overall by Tampa Bay in the 1999 MLB draft, Hamilton was thought by many as the next big baseball star. Two years later, Hamilton was addicted to crack and out of the league.
Here’s what he told ESPN the Magazine’s Tim Keown.
“When I think of those terrible times, there’s one memory that stands out. I was walking down the double-yellow of a two-lane country highway outside Raleigh when I woke up out of a trance.
I was so out of it I had lost consciousness, but my body had kept going, down the middle of the road, cars whizzing by on either side. I had run out of gas on my way to a drug dealer’s house, and from there I left the truck and started walking. I had taken Klonopin, a prescription antianxiety drug, along with whatever else I was using at the time, and the combination had put me over the edge. It’s the perfect example of what I was: a dead man walking.”
In 2008, a new Josh Hamilton lit up Yankee Stadium in the Home Run Derby before he started his first MLB All-Star Game. Hamilton had turned to God to fix his life.
“I go to sleep every night with a clear mind and a clear conscience,” Hamilton told Keown. “Every day, I walk into an immaculate clubhouse with 10 TVs and all the food I can eat, a far cry from the rat-infested hellholes of my user past. I walk to my locker and change into a perfectly clean and pressed uniform that someone else hung up for me. I grab a bat and a glove and walk onto a beautifully manicured field to play a game for a living.
How am I here? I can only shrug and say, “It’s a God thing.” It’s the only possible explanation. There’s a reason my prayers weren’t answered during those dark, messed-up nights I spent scared out of my mind. There’s a reason I have this blessed and unexpected opportunity to play baseball and tell people my story.”
Josh Hamilton isn’t the only athlete or member of your family or friend circle doing good things or living a good story. Too bad we don’t have time to brag on them enough until they’re dead.

Brandon Speck is the sports editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at (662) 256-5647 or

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

Click video to hear audio