Hard Facts: More than athletes

October 12, 2006 11:00 pm
Next time you see an athlete being a jerk, try to remember some of them are people, too. Often we see professional athletes for the overpaid, arrogant people 90 percent of them are. Unfortunately, the other 10 percent are guilty by association.

So much damage is done for the public perception by stupid, childish athletes. Like another Pacer in trouble with the law, or Bengal football player adding to his rap sheet.

It takes a tragedy for people, like myself, to realize some athletes have a life behind the dollar signs.

Recently two families have been devastated by the loss of a loved one. The Lidle family and the Odom family.

For someone who thinks the NBA is filled with overpaid babies, I finally found a small sense of oneness after hearing of Odom's loss.

For those who don't know, Lamar Odom lost his 6-month old son three months ago. Jayden Odom suffocated in his crib and died June 28. Doctors said it was a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome-related death.

A proud parent of two children, I grieved along with him. Who, other than those who have gone through the terrible experience, can imagine the pain of losing a child?

I spent countless hours on the computer finding ways to prevent SIDS from claiming the life of one of my children.

SIDS claims the lives of 6,000 children a year. Children three months to four years old are affected.

Odom is still haunted by the death of his child. Even as another NBA season begins, his mind is elsewhere.

"I feel lost at times," Odom told AP reporters. "But God is keeping me strong. Sometimes, I need to be by myself, whether it's a week or two weeks. My family has been understanding. There was a time when I thought basketball wasn't going to be able to heal the wound."

More recently, the Cory Lidle family has been struck with tragedy.

Lidle died doing one of the things he loved — flying planes.

‘‘No matter what's going on in your life, when you get up in that plane, everything's gone,'' Lidle told an interviewer with Comcast Sportsnet out of Philadelphia while flying his plane in April.

Lidle and an instructor boarded a single-engine plane Wednesday afternoon for a simple flight around New York City, but then something went wrong. His plane collided with an apartment building and now his family is left without a son, a brother, a husband and a father.

I urge others, as I remind myself, that some of these athletes do not feel as though they deserve their money. Many athletes give money to help those less fortunate.

Try to look past the recent headline of Stephen Jackson, another NBA delinquent. Jackson lied to police saying he was attacked. However, the evidence is now saying other wise. Yes, Jackson was still attacked, but it was by his own doing. The driver attacked him to stop Jackson from kicking the driver's cousin, who was on the ground and physically handicapped.

This story is too often repeated in headlines around the country. As long as athletes can get paid millions of dollars to act like babies, they will.

Just remember the Lidles and the Odoms, and think some

athletes are people just like us.

Paul Harder is sports writer for The Observer. Reach him by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it