Have you ever been truly inspired by anyone in your life? I have. I have several role models, some you might question as to why. I spent some time thinking about who really has influenced me in life the last few years. Well we all love lists, so here are four of my favorites and why. They are not all perfect people, some have been involved in domestic violence, some have said questionable things, but they all did something that inspired me to strive to be a better and stronger person.
#1 Stephen King: It's pretty obvious, since I consider him to be the best writer of the last 50 years, and not because he tells amazing and original stories, but because his stories are just the backdrop of the real story that he's writing. Stephen King doesn’t write horrors and thrillers, he writes about human nature and that no matter what is going on around us, we still act like stupid, greedy, selfish humans. There are lessons to be learned from our greed, desperation, loneliness, hate, love, fear, apathy, etc. When you read Stephen King you experience something terrifying and emotional. It’s like a real experience, even when it’s a possessed car that crushes people in the driver seat or a creepy fear eating clown hiding in the sewer, you experience the fear and anger just as King intended you to. He brings his nightmares to life like nobody else in the business. Now if only Hollywood could ever capture the true essence of his novels on the big screen. I can only dream that someday I can get close to what he has accomplished as a writer. Success aside, I want to write on that level in my own voice.
#2 Muhammad Ali: I once wanted to be a boxer, and I trained a bit in my youth. I wanted to be Ali, but not because he is arguably the best boxer to ever live, but because he knew who he was and he never tried to be something else. It wasn’t his ability and size that made him a great boxer. It was his mind and his presence. He believed in himself, even when the world didn't. He stood up for his beliefs, which cost him the title of champion and banned him from the boxing world for a while. He refused to serve in the military and fight in the Vietnam War because it violated his belief in taking human lives. Ironic from a man who made a living from violence, but boxing is not anything like war. I only hope that if I am ever challenged to stand up for what I believe in that I am as strong as Ali was to sacrifice what I love the most to stand strong.
#3 Terry Bradshaw: Terry was just a good ole boy that had an amazing career playing football in the 1970's and won four Superbowls. That's not why I love this guy though. Life gave this man a bad apple, he is clinically a manic depressant, and he has ADHD. Those are two very opposite conditions that cannot be medically treated at the same time and affect his personality so much that he ruined marriages and relationships. Yet today, he maintains an excellent career as a part time actor and full time football analyst, and is one of the most popular analysts out there. What makes him my role model is his ability to continually defy the odds of success for someone with two crippling mental conditions and not only lead a team to win four Superbowls but to maintain a high level of success throughout his entire career in the sports industry. Playing Quarterback is one of the most mentally taxing positions and requires great focus and attention to excel. Terry succeeded despite being handicapped in those abilities. The Superbowls came because of the talent surrounding him as well, but he still played wonderfully and he did it all with a smile, even after losing his two front teeth from a solid tackle. He defied his own mind to become a success.
#4 Corey Dillon: Corey isn’t as well known a celebrity as the others I’ve listed but his story is just as powerful to me as the rest. He was the little train that could. He never gave up, even when everyone else gave up on him. He grew up playing football, it was what he loved to do, but the environment around him was not always supportive and he found himself in trouble more than once with the law. He did not get a scholarship to play for a big college when he graduated because of his criminal record. Breaking numerous rushing state football records in high school wasn’t enough for colleges to take a chance. But he didn’t give up. He found a junior college that took him in and he continued to break records. After a couple years of keeping his act clean and shattering more school records, the big colleges took notice and he finally got that scholarship. He entered the NFL after college and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played there for several years and set some NFL rushing records. The world was now watching him. But the Bengals didn’t win games, no matter how hard he ran. He still didn’t give up; he spoke up about the problems with the Bengals organization. His words did not sit well with the owners and within a couple years they traded him to the New England Patriots. Most people at that point had decided he was washed up and done, including the Bengals. He didn’t get the memo and he immediately broke more season rushing records for the Patriots franchise all the way to the one thing that every football player wants, the Superbowl and the Lombardi Trophy. If at any point in his life he had decided it was just too hard, or that he couldn’t do it and had left football, he would have never had the opportunity to play in the biggest game in the sport, let alone win it. He taught me to never give up. No matter how hard life gets or how many obstacles block my path, never give up and maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to get a hold of that elusive dream. Anything can happen.