From Black Enterprise comes the story of Jennifer Vessel, a woman who was born with a birthmark covering a large portion of her back and shoulder that she was ashamed of and tried to hide during her childhood. However, when she reached college, she said she was tired of trying to hide it all the time. Instead, she embraced it, which eventually led to a book, “I Am Unique,” and the evolution of her mission to “inspire girls to live their lives undimmed.”
He slept in his VW minivan, surfed, hit trade shows and kept improving on his idea. His first year sales were $350,000. In 2012 they were at $521 million, and the San Mateo, Calif. firm currently is valued at $2.25 billion.
A story on Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is low-hanging fruit for us. It’s a little too easy to line him up as another athlete with an inspiring story on this website and write an article about the man who to us is such an inspiration and a great story that should make everyone smile, at least just a little, and feel good inside. So we didn’t do our own piece, we waited for the other media to write one. And we waited all season. We waited while the Tebow-bashing and criticizing played out in the mainstream media.
Frankly, it confuses us that anyone could watch this athlete, understand his back story, and come up with the conclusion that his is anything but an inspiring story. Most of the media doesn’t seem to get it. Which just goes to show you how out of touch most of the mainstream media is with mainstream America.
Eighty-five percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. So you’d think that Tebow giving praise to his “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” very publicly after every game would be no big deal, not news, not a “man bites dog” story, but the opposite. Other football players at every level get on bended knee for a brief moment, bow their heads, cross themselves when they’ve scored a touchdown. Not all of them, of course, but enough to notice. Maybe Tebow, whose kneeling pose in prayer has become known as “Tebowing,” holds his prayer a little longer than the others. Or maybe it’s that he’s been so open about his faith, that when he points his finger to heaven reflecting the cheers and applause that shower down upon him when he scores up to a higher power, everyone knows exactly what the gesture means. Other athletes do it constantly. But maybe there’s some ambiguity in their gestures because they don’t talk about their faith as openly as Tebow does.
A little background on Tim Tebow, just in case you didn’t know (and you might not, because most of the media doesn’t focus on the back story):
• Tim was born to Baptist missionary parents in the Philippines.
• While she was pregnant with Tim, his mother, Pam, suffered a life-threatening infection. She went into a coma. She also suffered from dysentery. She was treated with an array of drugs as a result – drugs that shouldn’t be used on a pregnant woman, because of the danger to the fetus. She pulled through her illness, but doctors warned her to expect her baby to be stillborn. They said if Tim went to term and survived, that he could be severely disabled as a result of the drug treatments she received. They asked her to consider an abortion. Pam refused.
• In a high school game as a sophomore, Tebow hurt his right leg on a play in the first half of a game. His coach told him to toughen up, that it was probably just a bruise. Tebow continued to play and in the fourth quarter, ran for a score-tying 29-yard touchdown. After the game, x-rays showed a broken fibula. And not just a hairline fracture – a “jagged break of his lower leg,” as his coach described it. He didn’t play the rest of the year.
You’ve probably seen this drink commercial, “Appreciate That,” where Tebow outlines the things people have said he couldn’t do:
Overcoming adversity? Yeah, just a little. Inspirational? We think so.
We wanted to highlight this piece of commentary by the Miami Herald’s Linda Robertson: Inspirational or offensive, Tim Tebow’s no phony. Unfortunately, however, her column is no longer accessible through the Miami Herald website, so we’ve had to link to the only place on the web we’ve been able to find it. It’s poorly copied and pasted — there are no paragraphs and some sentences run into the next, but it’s still readable. We hope you enjoy it.
Betty Ford, former First Lady and wife of late former President Gerald Ford died yesterday at the age of 93. She admitted a long-time addiction to alcohol and prescription pain-killers and her recovery from them led her to open the Betty Ford Center to help others similarly addicted. Read the full story.
If you see a bit of a proliferation of bow ties during Fox Sports’ baseball coverage this year, don’t be surprised. There’s an interesting and inspiring story behind them, brought to you by baseball writer (and former Baltimore Sun sports columnist) Ken Rosenthal. Here’s the story: Bow Ties on Fox.
The story of Ted Williams initially was reported by the Columbus Dispatch. They’ve got an entire page devoted to coverage of him now: The Man With the Golden Pipes.
But which story of inspiration do you take from Ted Williams’ riches-to-rags-to-riches story?
There’s a back-story, as there usually always seems to be in these kinds of stories, to Ted’s recent burst onto the scene after that initial Columbus Dispatch video went viral and was viewed some 13 million times. It’s complicated, that back-story, but the threads all tug at your emotions. Which one is the story of inspiration? The one of Ted, battling with various addictions, living on the streets, being rediscovered? Or the one of his former wife, a woman who raised the couple’s four daughters as a single mom, and who also took in another child that Ted had with another woman? Here’s that story in today’s New York Daily News. In all, Ted has nine children.
Or is it, perhaps, Ted’s 90-year-old mother, who gave up trying to cope with her son and gave him up to God to watch over, praying for him all the while, and all the while trying to convince her son to embrace God. She’s been a member of her church for more than 50 years. She spelled out her story on this morning’s “Good Morning America” show.
Wherever you look throughout the timeline of this story, there are numerous levels of inspiration. Where do you find yours?
Former Washington Times colleague David Elfin has written a fabulous piece for AOL’s NFL Fanhouse about Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. This is a great football story that has as much if not more going for it than that of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, as chronicled in the book and movie, “The Blind Side.”
A few excerpts from Elfin’s story about Dixon:
• Dixon’s father was sentenced to 25 years in prison while Dixon was only 3 years old
• Dixon and his four siblings spent years in homeless shelters while growing up
• He estimates he went to some 15 elementary schools and never learned to read
Elizabeth Edwards inspired others. There’s no question about that. In the wake of her death yesterday after a six-year battle with cancer, after all the stories about the struggles she faced in life have been told and retold, we’re left with the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards. It is one of inspiration, we believe.
In her life, lived very publicly, she had to endure the death of a child — her first-born, Wade, at 16, as a result of an auto accident. That alone is perhaps the most crushing blow anyone must endure in life. But that wasn’t the end of the challenges that came her way. She had to battle breast cancer, a battle she ultimately lost on Dec. 7, 2010. And she had to endure the enormous publicity and public embarrassment surrounding the news of her husband’s infidelity and the fact that he fathered a child with his mistress.
“She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her,” said Vice President Joe Biden. And as the first line in a Palm Beach Post health section story notes that she was “Inspirational to the end.”
Elizabeth Edwards also has been described as steely and strong, ambitious and determined — interesting words; words that could take on a positive or negative connotation depending on the context. She was demeaned in the book, “Game Change,” written about the 2008 presidential campaign, as being less than pleasurable to deal with. But think about all that. Put yourself in her shoes for just a moment if you can. Think about the pain of losing a child; think about having to cope with a deadly disease on a daily basis; think about having the infidelity of your spouse revealed on one of the most public of stages. How would you behave? How would you react? How would you carry all that day after day? Any one of those three things impacting your life would be enough to send many to bed in a dark room where they would remain for months. Think about dealing with all three of those things.
Elizabeth Edwards kept going until she could continue no longer, in spite of all the pain, heartache and suffering she lived through. The line, “Inspirational to the end,” is an appropriate one.
Click the above image to go to an amazing video that is on Guidepost’s website about a woman who went from “Homeless to Harvard” and who came to learn the Serenity Prayer at a very young age in a way no teen ever should have to. It’s an amazingly inspiring explanation of the meaning of the prayer and it’s impact and the comfort it gave to a motherless, homeless teen.
Liz Murray’s book, “Breaking Night,” details her incredible young life, a life no child should have to live through, as a child of parents addicted to and dealing drugs, which resulted in her going out on the streets, which she saw as an escape and a step up from where she was. At age 15, she took control of what she could, and let go of trying to control what she couldn’t, and began her journey to Harvard and beyond. As she says in the video, “If I could just pick the things that I had some control over, and give the rest to something higher than myself, let it go, surrender to it, focus on what I could control — and for me that was education. It was school. I couldn’t change any of that, but you know what? I could show up at school everyday. … I could get not only a B, but I could get an A.”
The Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”