Thursday, July 03, 2014

Lou Gehrig Day 75th Anniversary

Today baseball pauses to remember one of its greatest moments and greatest players.

It’s also one of its saddest.

Lou Gehrig Day, July 4, 1939

Gehrig the portrait of invincibility.

The standard of consistency.  

Yet, a weird mix of frailness and immortality. A two-piece puzzle wrapped so tightly is stunningly clear.

He played on six World Championship teams, was twice named the American League MVP, won the triple crown in 1934, and built a career batting average well above .300 and of course that consecutive game record, 2,130 straight, that stood for more than 50 years.

A mountain of a man in his integrity and leadership. But also his resilience. So much so that sportswriter Jim Murray called him “a Gibraltar in cleats."

That summer, 75 years ago, The Iron Horse addressed 50 thousand strong at Yankee Stadium.  

Adored with World Champion teammates and quivering with emotion, Gehrig delivered just 278 words, and provided the equivalent of baseball’s Gettysburg Address.

The words, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” still echo in our minds even though we weren’t there.

No preacher could craft a better lesson. The mortally ill Gehrig gave a thank you, not a self-eulogy.  A gracious, humble presentation about the true joys of being able to play a kids game, to be able to play for the arguably the greatest team of the era, if not all baseball history.

Some say he didn’t know the gravity of the condition, and there is evidence of that. His wife Eleanor, allegedly told doctors who diagnosed him at the Mayo Clinic, not to share all the details. He know his career was over.

The full diagnosis, at the age of 36, Gehrig was in the stages of then relatively unknown disease called ALS - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. A disease that would rob him of his nervous system and muscle control, but would eventually take his name.

But, even in his most basic understanding he knew was at least crippled and physically impaired. By whatever measure he knew,  it was punch to the gut and kick to the pants to even the strongest positive attitudes.

Then almost as suddenly as he was he was thrust into the lineup, well, permanently that June Day in 1925. Sixteen years, precisely, June 2, 1941, he died.

Why is the story so important to us?

We love what his courage is.

He didn’t wallow. He didn’t complain. He didn’t seek anyone's pity.

Like he did for game after game after game after game - 14 seasons worth. He took his lunch pail to work, punched in and did his job as a probation officer for the City of New York. Only stopping a month or so before his death.

That’s why we love the Gehrig story so much.

Its about a guy who was just happy to be playing in his hometown.  A man who understood his own role as a hero to kids and adults a like. And if he said he was lucky to be alive, you better believe he meant it.

Of Gehrig four kids, he was the only one to live through childhood.

He didn’t complain about not getting the spotlight of Ruth, and arguably he meant more to the team, and baseball than the Sultan of Swat.

An alien attitude in an age that professional athletes seeming have larger incomes than the gross national product of some third world countries.

Even to end Gehrig was the good soldier, just doing was he was asked.

Maybe that’s why we love the story and the man,  just maybe because, he is unlike anything we see today or will ever see again.

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two enemies discover a 'higher call' in battle (reprinted from CNN)

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By John Blake , CNN
updated 3:11 PM EST, Sat March 9, 2013 

(CNN) -- The pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision.
"My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said.

"He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was
wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He nodded
at Brown instead. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II. Years later, Brown would track down his would-be executioner for a reunion that reduced both men to tears.

Living by the code
People love to hear war stories about great generals or crack troops such as Seal Team 6, the Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. But there is another side of war that's seldom explored: Why do some soldiers risk their lives to save their enemies and, in some cases, develop a deep bond with them that outlives war?

And are such acts of chivalry obsolete in an age of drone strikes and terrorism?

Those are the kinds of questions Brown's story raises. His encounter with the German fighter pilot is beautifully told in a New York Times best-selling book, "A Higher Call." The book explains how that aerial encounter reverberated in both men's lives for more than 50 years. 

"The war left them in turmoil," says Adam Makos, who wrote the book with Larry Alexander. "When they found each other, they found peace."

Their story is extraordinary, but it's not unique. Union and Confederate troops risked their lives to aid one another during the Civil War. British and German troops gathered for post-war reunions; some even vacationed together after World War II. One renowned American general traveled back to Vietnam to meet the man who almost wiped out his battalion, and the two men hugged and prayed together.
What is this bond that surfaces between enemies during and after battle?

It's called the warrior's code, say soldiers and military scholars. It's shaped cultures as diverse as the Vikings, the Samurai, the Romans and Native Americans, says Shannon E. French, author of "Code of the Warrior."

The code is designed to protect the victor, as well as the vanquished, French says.
"People think of the rules of war primarily as a way to protect innocent civilians from being victims of atrocities," she says. "In a much more profound sense, the rules are there to protect the people doing the actual fighting."

The code is designed to prevent soldiers from becoming monsters. Butchering civilians, torturing prisoners, desecrating the enemies' bodies -- are all battlefield behaviors that erode a soldier's humanity, French says.

The code is ancient as civilization itself. In Homer's epic poem, "The Iliad," the Greek hero Achilles breaks the code when his thirst for vengeance leads him to desecrate the body of his slain foe, the Trojan hero Hector.

Most warrior cultures share one belief, French says: "There is something worse than death, and one of those things is to completely lose your humanity." 

The code is still needed today, French says. Thousands of U.S. soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with post-traumatic
stress disorder. Some have seen, and have done, things that are unfathomable.

A study of Vietnam veterans showed that those who felt as if they had participated in dishonorable behavior during the war or saw the Vietnamese as subhuman experienced more post-traumatic stress  disorder, French says.

Drone warfare represents a new threat to soldiers' humanity, French says.
The Pentagon recently announced it would award a new Distinguished Warfare Medal to soldiers who operate drones and launch cyberattacks. The medal would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, two medals earned in combat.

At least 17,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the medal. The petition says awarding medals to soldiers who wage war via remote control was an "injustice" to those who risked their lives in combat.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the new medal at a February news conference. 

"I've seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems, have changed the way wars are fought," Panetta says. "And they've given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar."

Still, critics ask, is there any honor in killing an enemy by remote control? French isn't so sure.

"If [I'm] in the field risking and taking a life, there's a sense that I'm putting skin in the game," she says. "I'm taking a risk so it feels more honorable. Someone who kills at a distance -- it can make them doubt. Am I truly honorable?"

The German pilot who took mercy
Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943.

Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.

Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities.

Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.

As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him. 

He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. He could see men huddled inside the plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror. Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the
trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.

Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest. 

A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.

Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him:
"You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."

Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.)

Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.

"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands."

What creates the bond between enemies?
Stigler was able to recognize the common humanity of the enemy when he locked eyes with Brown. It caused him to take mercy.

That sudden recognition can spring from many sources in battle -- hearing the moans of a wounded enemy; sharing a common language; or opening the wallet of an enemy and seeing pictures of his wife and children.

That respect for the enemy's humanity typically starts at the top, some scholars say. A leader sets the tone, and the troops get the message. A military leader who embodied this approach was one of Germany's greatest World War II commanders, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, also known as the "Desert Fox."

One time, a group of British commandos tried to sneak behind enemy lines and assassinate Rommel in the North African desert. They failed. But Rommel insisted the commandos be buried in the same graveyard as the German soldiers who died defending him, says Steven Pressfield, author of "Killing Rommel."

There were battle zones during World War II where that type of magnanimity was almost impossible. On the Eastern Front, German and Russian soldiers literally hated one another. And in the South Pacific, U.S. Marines and Japanese soldiers took no prisoners.

At times, the terrain can force soldiers to follow the code. The North African desert during World War II was one such place, Pressfield says.
Fortunes turned quickly because so many battles were fought by fast-moving tanks and mobile units.

A German unit that captured British soldiers could end up surrendering to them minutes later because the battle lines were so fluid. Also, the desert sun was so harsh that both sides knew if they left enemy prisoners stranded or mistreated, they would quickly die, Pressfield says.

It was not unusual for German and British doctors to work together while taking care of wounded soldiers from both sides, Pressfield says.

Some British and German soldiers never forgot how their enemy treated them and staged reunions after the war. 

"The Germans and the British used to get together for soccer matches," Pressfield says. "It was the Desert Foxes versus the Desert Rats."

These soldiers weren't just engaging in nostalgia. They shared a sense of hardship. They had survived an ordeal that most people could not understand.

"In many ways, a soldier feels more of a bond with the enemy they're fighting than with the countrymen back home," Pressfield says. "The enemy they're fighting is equally risking death."

That bond could even lead to acts of loyalty after the war, says Daniel Rolph, author of "My Brother's Keepers."

Once, when a Union officer mortally wounded a Confederate captain during the Civil War, the Union man sang hymns and prayed with his enemy as the man took his last breaths. Before the captain died, he asked the Union officer to return his sword and revolver to his family -- a request the soldier honored after the war ended, Rolph says.

"I even have an article from The New York Times in 1886 where Union soldiers who were on the pension rolls of the federal government were actually trying to transfer their money toward Confederate soldiers," Rolph says.

These bonds can even form between enemies who do not share a language or a culture.
Harold Moore Jr. was a U.S. Army colonel who led a desperate fight depicted in the 2002 Mel Gibson film,
"We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. " In 1965, Moore lost 79 of his men fighting against a larger North
Vietnamese force. It was one of the first major battles in the Vietnam War.
In 1993, Moore led some of his soldiers back to Vietnam to meet their former adversaries on the same
battlefield. When they arrived, Moore met the Vietnamese officer who led troops against him, Lt. Gen.
Nguyen Huu An.
An held out his arms and greeted Moore by kissing him on both cheeks. Moore gave him his wristwatch
as a token of friendship.
Moore described in an essay what happened next:
"I invited all to form a circle with arms extended around each other's shoulders and we bowed our heads.
With prayer and tears, we openly shared our painful memories."
An died two years after meeting Moore. Moore traveled to Vietnam to pay his respects to his former
enemy's family. While visiting their home, Moore spotted a familiar object displayed in the viewing case of
An's family shrine: It was his wristwatch.
A reunion of enemies

As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival.

He flew back to his base in England and landed with barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.

Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.

Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.

Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life?

He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story.

He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.

On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read:

"Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?"

It was Stigler. He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953.

He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter."

Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.

"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks. 

Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate."

The two pilots would meet again, but this time in the lobby of a Florida hotel.
One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.

The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English:

"I love you, Charlie."
Years later, author Makos says he understands why Stigler experienced such a surge of emotions. Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived, Makos says.
"The war cost him everything," Makos says. 

"Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of."

The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.

Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions.

Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.
Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.

"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week."

As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says: "The nightmares went away."

Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor. During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor. 

"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.

Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more. Makos discovered what that was by accident while spending a night at Brown's house. He was poking through Brown's library when he came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.

Makos opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:

In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying. 

The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me, as precious as my brother was.

Thanks Charlie.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Manti Te'o Fell Because of Reality, Not Hoax

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Manti Te'o was the victim of another hoax.  
Well, he wasn't the only one. Anyone who bleeds blue and gold for Notre Dame, and the large contingent of the media, was fooled yet again by the hype of a player coming out of South Bend, Indiana. Frankly, anyone who has been enchanted by the notion that miracles bloom practically every season under the watch of Touchdown Jesus was also hoodwinked.

You know the Kool-Aid drinkers who were convinced that his Heisman case was swiped in some sort of highway robbery on the way to Manhattan?  It wasn't. 

Late Friday, the reality came into focus. Te'o was taken in the second round by the San Diego Chargers, the story of the year in college football didn't exist anymore, and his status as a big-time NFL player, well, that didn't exist, either.


Sunday, February 03, 2013

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Winning by losing?

While you  were jamming out to Avril Lavigne's I'm With You and Christina Aguliera's Beautiful in February, 2003. Little Cal Tech in Pasadena was beginning a streak.

 And not one they you really want to cherish. That day, February 15, 2003, the NCAA Division III baseball team eked out a 5-4 win over Cal State-Monterrey Bay.
Then a loss becomes 10, 20 and ultimately 228. That was until Saturday, when the Beavers carved out a 9-7 win over Pacific.
And almost appropriately, a rookie on the mound who was never a part of the losing, worked a complete game victory.
That skid had stretched something like 3,640 days - essentially ten years. Two-hundred and twenty-eight consecutive loses. 
I'm sure there were times they came close.
The wrong pitch late in the game. The ball dropping in a gap. Maybe a dribble up the line. A bad bounce through the infield. An overthrow, a missed tag. Whatever it was. It was consistent.
Talk having a monkey on your back. That's some kind of perseverance. That's almost qualification for sainthood.

Are you stuck in a rut? Does it feel like you can't get beyond what you were, and where you need to be?

Have courage. It's never usually a quick process.

Need more encouragement? You aren't the only one on the slow-track.

My mother used to tell me it took Moses, 40 years. It actually took him 80. From the time he was born, till when he left Egypt and then when he returned to rescue the captive Hebrews from Egypt. Then it took another 40 years to lead them through the desert. Even then, he didn't get to cross over the Jordan into Palestine.

There were 400 years or so of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament, before God revealed himself. 
So dig in, concentrate on the process and just do it.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. Cal Tech hasn't won a conference baseball game in 463 games. Or since the spring of 1988.

Get the point: Hang on. It's gonna be a slow ride to your destiny.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dean Jackson's Facebook profile

Here's an opinion piece I wrote for

With Manning’s latest playoff loss, what do Colts fans think of him? (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
For the second week in a row, Indianapolis Colts fans have been flooding Facebook with comments about a Baltimore win in the playoffs. Of course, only one of those games involved the Colts. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a vested interested for many Colts fans in this past weekend’s Baltimore-Denver matchup.
In my time watching football, I’ve noticed at least three types of Colts fans (Click here for more)ns

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reconnecting with an old friend.

Dean Jackson's Facebook profile

I became reunited with a friend recently.
A companion on my journey through youth, and a voice  prompted me to spend my life telling stories in the media, specifically sports media. 

I never knew how much missed the influence. The subtle things that made me appreciate life.

The prodding to look for the story beyond the story.

The meaty ideas we shared made me want to make a feast from the so-called cotton candy aisle of modern life - sports.

I barely recall a week, let alone a day, I we weren't together

But this friend, you see, we spent a lot of time together.

The photos from those times never left my mind's scrapbook. It's magic imagery, is all but engraved on my heart.

The school bus.

The library.

The study hall. Trips; everywhere.

And, I do mean everywhere.

But, mostly just to tell a story, one crafted so careful to share an unintended lesson or just an experience that was so rich you had to drink it in.
In grade school it was a treat. In junior high, a source of education. In high school about as much a part of my life as breathing.
Oh in college, I became too sophisticated for that. I didn't have time to spend the time. We drifted apart.

I was to busy re-inventing myself to know who I really was. I didn't make contact.

Not even a passing glance.  No time to even reflect.

I had poo-pooed the relationship as trivial, insignificant, and well, irrelevant.
My friend hadn't changed. I had, and plenty
Me, at least 25 years, 30 some states, too many jobs, lots of packing and unpacking of equipment. Lots of malfunctioning equipment.

Lots of bills. A missing tooth from a playful hockey fight gone bad. A few more chipped from more horse play.
A few games of shouting into a telephone handset.
A love lost, well a few. But, who's counting.
A lot of time, I fear misspent.

Shattered dreams, new ones.

Lots of experiences and joys too amazing to imagine.
A daughter. A battle. A few good doctors. A lot of prayers.
A lot of other friends came and went and countless stories from one life I'd be happy to tell till the second-coming.

That was until the other day, well really tonight.  My first contact came, by mail. I was so excited it sat unopened in my computer bag for nearly four days. 
I am wrong.
That long-lost friend is Sports Illustrated.

A legendary coach is paradoxical life and his early death. Or, Larry Fitzgerald's quest to lead a life that embraced a calling. His crazy mix of travel and mission work. Is whimsical, but convicted thoughts on charity. 
Or even the unlikely ascension of a phenom named Johnny Football.
In the age of instant information that cost less than a coin in a fountain, no one has time for these old notions.

These time things are to difficult to handle for modern thinkers, er dabblers.
No purpose in the human, in the human interest story.
These aren't stories you see cramed into SportsCenter. Its too messy, too complicated to attach to a scoreline or 16 column inches. But, this is like tea is to an energy drink. Like savoring wine, i suppose, when everyone else is throwing back beer.

Playing a video game before playing catch.

Like walking for pleasure through a rough path in the park compared to speeding to work on a modern highway.
I got a practically free subscription, unwilling to pass up a freebie. A priceless connection back to a part of my soul I didn't know I left. Until tonight.
It's been a long time, my friend. We have a lot to catch up on.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dean Jackson's Facebook profile 

Racing to immortality? set to "Take" his place?


Baltimore, Md. - I accidentally watched. I was visiting family flipped on the Preakness broadcast.  I'm glad she did .

I'm not a horse racing fan. I don't know much. I don't have enough interest, let alone enough money to even care.

The sport of kings, basically requires a fortune of a professional athlete or at least third-world dictator.
Two weeks ago as I prepared my Saturday morning sportscast I never thought to even include the Kentucky Derby. It wasn't until before noon, when I realize was the first Saturday in May.
Of course, that's one of those universal that everyone knows. Just as the first Tuesday in November is election day.

No body called. I got no emails. I don't know that anyone cares.

Here's the bottom-line. We have chance to witness a Triple Crown. Something that's only happened 11 times. Only 32 horses have even come close.

After hanging back for more than three-quarters of the race, I'll Have Another, stepped out to the right and matched Bodiemeister stride-for-stride down the homestretch to edge the would-be champ for the second straight week. Like a highlight of the race two weeks before at Churchill Downs, I'll Take Another erased Bodemeister's six-length lead.

The stunning thing, you never doubted. Like he belonged their, I'll Have Another said, this is my race. Let me take out a bright red-sharpie and signed his name on the deed of ownership.

Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed... I'll Take Another?

And all of a sudden, we are interested in racing again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The National Football League lock-out is over.

The millionaires (the players who also double as their own small-corporations with annual revenues that top the gross national product of third world countries) and the billionaires (the ones who run countries have even more resources, luck and friends in key places) have come to terms.

That means we (the guy who works the third-shift, the swing-shift and the guy who wishes he had shift will once again end up paying the check for the enterprise) will have a football season. Indianapolis will also have its first Super Bowl this February and that's a good thing. It will be an even better thing if I am there.

The NFL is determined to play, and do give them credit for working out the details. I mean, after all a guys got to make his $5 million a year. Some owners are squeaking by with only $50 million per. Could you imagine the audacity of actually expecting a player to work for a living. Maybe Dallas owner Jerry Jones has a bake sale to cover operating experiences or Jim Irsay in Indianapolis hosts a car-wash.

That aside, I don't really begrudge players making lots of money. I'd make it if I could. They do go through a lot to play professional football. I don't have the current data, but I believe the average NFL career is three years. To get a pension from the NFL, something most old-timers don't get, you have to play seven years. You have just a short-time to make your fortune and probably the players will never have that opportunity to earn that much jack ever again.

They, the players, aren't without blame, they are just a little less at fault. They have very little sympathy from me. They have just been able to wrangle a very nice piece of the pie from the owners.

My real issue is the monopoly, the trust, the cartel or whatever term that implies business exclusivity used to describe the NFL. The elite owners in the world's most powerful and most successful sports league, ever.

They've got cash from licensing from the sale of almost every conceivable product or souvenir imaginable. (My favorite is the official NFL team train set you can buy in the Sunday newspaper ads) Like an infinite fountain, only with money, owners have revenues flowing in from every direction: television rights, cable TV rights, satellite program packages, radio broadcast rights, even live updates on your HTC. Let's not forget the basics like ticket sales, personal seat licenses, parking passes,

If you can charge for it, the NFL owners do. They are masters of getting every last dime from we the people.

Hold on. Is it really the owners fault? I mean really. We the fans have blown this game or all our games into something more than a past-time.

Can you blame the owners for wanting more and more money from fans? I mean really, we've been doling it out for years. Far be it for them not to put their hands out to collect it, especially when we are so quick to pay it.

Like the addict buying more drugs after losing yet another job, or unemployed guy using his money to buy lottery tickets. Neither know the, or want to admit they have a problem.

And of course when the training camps open in a few days, including the Colts at Anderson, we'll be there with arms wide open ready to embrace them as if neither has done anything wrong.

It really hasn't. They are just giving us what we say we want with our dollars and our attention.

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An American Tale: The Shuttle

When the black rubber of the front wheel touched down on the alabaster blanket of pavement, it was over.

Five decades (and seven presidents) packed full of planning and dreaming are now nothing more than memories to be stored.

Through good times and bad times, recession, and maybe depression depending on who you ask, the Space Shuttle was constant. There was tragedy, twice our nation wept over the loss of a shuttle. Challenger was lost on launch in 1986. Columbia was destroyed on re-entry in 2003.

Now Enterprise (just a test unit), Discovery, Endeavor and soon to be Atlantis will just be giant models for display. Other component parts have been dispatched like a NASA garage sale, an engine going here, a few of the orbiter units going to museums there.

These trophies from our limitless youth, mean little without its symbolism.

The space shuttle was another one of the things we Americans hung out hat on. A button-bursting source of pride that made us, even if just small part of us fling our shoulders back and made us proud to be Americans.

The shuttle outlasted Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, another Bush and Obama.

Disney couldn't have dreamed a plan like this.

There may be better engineered cars in Europe, so the argument goes. There may be better technology from Japan. At the end of the day, in the toughest, must unyielding test of all, manned space travel, no one, but no one can do space exploration like the good ole' USA.

We said we could do it and we did.

It wasn't just that We Did it. It was that were able to do it.

We did it first, we did it best. Some 135 times we shook our first, pointed to the sky like a contemporary Columbus and said we can do it. Then cut through cloudy ceiling feeding the fanciful notion that we American's are a special breed.

And don't let anyone tell you anything else, that's what the space shuttle was all about.

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Fifty years ago Yankee slugger hits 61 in 1961.

Maris Remembered

I guess history is determined by the person who records it.

That is, whoever that gate keeper is, he has the power to make it important or insignificant.

Fifty years ago one of baseball's greatest records was re-written. It's been broken a couple times since so I suppose its not as newsworthy, but no one has really talked a lot about 61 in 1961 - Roger Maris' feat of breaking Babe Ruth's single-second record of 60 home runs.

For the fanfare and attention that historic campaign attracted, its stunning how little its discussed by the man on the street. I don't float in East Coast circles or get a chance to talk to fans in the Bronx some who still say he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but all in all, I think his feat garners little attention.

Little as in never.

Baseball history has moved on. First Mark McGuire and then later Barry Bonds. But, no one even dares to entertain the discussion about how its a different game today then it was when our parents or grandparents went to the ballpark. And no one ever talks about shorter fences, higher altitudes  and lively baseballs and how the game has been diluted by expansion.

Let alone steroids.

That's not just me waxing nostalgic about mythical time when the game was pure or similar Pollyanna nonsense.

During the early 1960s, the Yankees captured five pennants and two World Championships. Mantle and Maris were iconic, but never like they were in 1961. The M&M boys tallied 115 homers, 163 runs scored and 268 runs batted in. BeforeMantle's late September infection, the two were in lock-step waging a friendly battle for the would-be single-season home run mark. Mantle finished with 54 round-trippers.

They were as similar as the day is to night. One loved attention they way you love a visit to the dentist. The other was a quotable as Bartlett's.

Maris, all of 27 years-old, was from North Dakota, and never really got into all the Big Apple offered. He as about as comfortable around the press as white socks are to black wing tips.

His teammate, Mickey Mantle, had an electric smile that would set flashes off for a three mile radius.
Despite his humble Oklahoma roots, Mantle was practically born to be a Yankee.

Maris was a transplant from the west after getting his start in Kansas City, at a time Missouri River was the west.

Never Maris would never hit more than 33 home runs or drive in 100 RBI in a season, 1962. The numbers good enough to win the AL MVP for the second-straight season.

If clothes  make the man, Maris best seasons were ithe seven he spent in Yankee pinstrips (1960-66).

He would only play six more seasons, and retire with only 275 career home runs and 850 runs batted in his 12 year career with a .260 batting average.

His numbers are hardly a case for the Hall of Fame, just like Don Larson's perfect game, Johnny Vandermeer's back to back no-no's, but I think we can agree his place in baseball history is secure.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

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Happy Fathers Day

Sixty some summers ago Bob Jackson was trying out for the St. Louis Cardinals on one of their tours of the Midwest . The team was bird-dogging for the next diamond in the rough. Another Stan Musial. There were no bonus babies then, no superstars tracked since junior high for their five-tool skills. You had to beat the bushes in the small towns and sandlots across the country.

My father, or so the story goes, made it to the second day of the camp. The experts liked his ability to make plays, but didn't think he could hit major league pitching. He was excused from the rest of the experience. He wasn't meant to be one of the boys of summer, unless you count some church softball games decades later.

Sometime around that time, he found himself  hunkered down a hundred yards or so near the 38th parallel as part of mortar crew sending volleys unto a enemy hill. The hill wasn't named, just classified by a few numbers. Just another objective in the Korean Conflict.

Dad's never talked much about his experiences. A few photos here and there or maybe a story or two when you catch him at the right time.

There aren't tons of medals for valor or injuries received in battle. That's not dad. Just another American who didn't ask for the job, but willing went because around the world because his country called him to the frigid battle ground called North and South Korea.

For twenty years or more he'd work a full-time factory job and farm more than 100 acres. We raised just about everything at one point or another, cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens and even pickles.

This August would mark 55 years my parents were married. (Mom died in 2001) Just a few months after she graduated high school my father wasn't going her get away. I have a black-and-white photo of their wedding day. Dad 's waving like he's the President boarding a helicopter departing the White House.

My parents weren't heroes. They weren't world-travelers or scholars. Nothing, I suppose that attracts praise in the headlines these days.

But what they did do was work hard, and continues to do is work-hard and be who he was meant to be, dad to me, my brothers and sisters and grandpa to a slew of grand and great-grand kids from Mississippi to Colorado.

They were was faithful. Faithful to their kids, their friends with a common decency to everyone. The first to help, even if pushed into it by mom. Dad always had time to help.

There is no better song that captures the legacy my parents left than this.

Just the farm, photos, memories,a stubborn streak, a tradition of hard-work and a genuine appreciation for anyone trying to do the right thing.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Someday, sooner than I can imagine, my daughter will only have memories and a often-misinvested legacy from me. God-willing, I hope Dakota will say the same.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Facing death, CNN sports legend embraces life

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This article hits home, my little girl turns two in May. I can't imagine missing all successes and joys, and not leaving her a legacy good and bad to remember her goofy, weird, dad by.

King Solomon said life is a but a vapor, comparing to how quickly it passes.

Here' the article -


Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares an intimate conversation with CNN legend Nick Charles about the final fight of his life. Coming soon on "Sanjay Gupta, MD".

Santa Fe, New Mexico (CNN) -- Nick Charles looks into the camera, as he's done thousands of times before. Except he's not calling a boxing match for sports fans around the world.He's talking to an audience of one: his 5-year-old daughter, Giovanna.

Over the last 40 years, Charles has covered every major sporting event, from the Olympics to the Super Bowl to the Kentucky Derby. He's covered some of the most classic boxing matches -- when Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, when Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear, when Roberto Duran quit and told Sugar Ray Leonard, "No mas."

Yet this is the toughest taping he'll ever deliver, a message from beyond the grave. For his little girl.

As Charles stares into the lens, he projects the essence of a fighter -- tough, rugged, still smiling despite the bruises of battle. His wife of 13 years, Cory, holds the camera.

Gone is his patented mop of black hair. Twice voted the sexiest sportscaster in America, Charles has undergone rounds of chemotherapy that darkened the circles under his eyes and "make me look like I'm halfway in the grave."

On August 4, 2009, Charles was told he had incurable bladder cancer. He was given four to six months to live if he opted for no treatment. With treatment, he could expect about 20 months.

"I want the biggest guns you can fire at me," he told the doctors.

He's into his 21st month now. Each day, each hour, each breath is a gift.

He's fought this hard for Giovanna and Cory, to build a foundation for them after he's gone. He knows what it's like to long for a father's love. He only has a dozen or so memories of his own father.

"My little girl needs a good daddy more than anything right now," he says. "This is a gift from God where I need to build these memories for her, so that I'm not a blur." 

The family has begun making preparations. They meet with a counselor regularly. When he was diagnosed, Charles told Giovanna he was sick -- that his hair would fall out. This time last year, she looked at him with her big brown eyes and asked: "Are you going to die?"

"Everybody will sometime," he told her, "but we will always be together. But I'm not going anywhere today. I feel great. Now let's go out and play."

Weeks earlier, Charles and his wife sat down to tape the first in a series of birthday videos he's leaving for Giovanna. The camera rolls. Charles sings. In TV terms, he nails it.

Giovanna Charles, the girl daddy loves with all his heart
Because she's cute, because she's smart

Because she's sweet, because she's strong

Because she's so much fun!

'A gift from God'
Giovanna races around the family's spacious contemporary adobe home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Still wearing the princess shoes from her 5th birthday party the day before, she clicks across the tile floor, squeals of delight bouncing off the high ceilings.

"A gift from God," Charles calls her. "A blessing who came to me late in life."

He has three grown children from two previous marriages. His impending death has brought him closer to them -- including a 39-year-old son who sat with him during chemo sessions.

His focus has been on his youngest girl, keeping a written journal since she was born, and recording the birthday videos after his diagnosis. He only recorded a handful; he was sobbing so much off-camera he could barely hold it together to go past her 11th birthday.

When Charles mentions Giovanna by name, he chokes up. Every few days, he walks into her room and looks in her closet, at the princess outfits and leotards. He pictures her prom dress hanging there years from now, knowing he'll never see her in it.

He breaks down and cries.

For Cory, the pain is unbearable, to witness the slow decline of the person you love.
 The woman Charles calls his rock, the love of his life, collapsed when she and her husband first learned of his illness.

 A producer for CNN International, she has continued to work because it keeps her focused.

Yet she's already begun a grieving process to prepare "for when he won't be here.
" She's in touch with bereavement groups and camps to help children who have lost a parent.

When Giovanna recently saw her mother crying, the girl consoled her.
 "Don't worry," she said, "Daddy will always be in your heart."

"You can never know what it will feel like when someone dies and is gone and how you will handle it," says Cory, 45.

 "From young widows, I know the feeling is profoundly sad, especially when somebody has such a presence as Nick."
Both are willing to speak so openly about their ordeal because, as Cory puts it, "too many Americans fear death."

Adds Charles, "I embrace it." He fights through fear.

Charles has always set goals in life: short-term, mid-term and long-term.  He'd like to live until one more Easter, until his dream home is complete in early May, until his 65th birthday on June 30.

"I don't know how long I have. " Just waking up to live one more day is blissful.

In January, he called off all treatment.

"I said, 'I can't take this chemo any more.  It's going to kill me before the cancer.
 I want to feel everything in life while I can."

In the evenings, as the sun sets, Charles stares out the window and
contemplates life.  Looking back at him are the mountains that surround his home.

The pain arcs through his body. His toes feel frozen.

"God, if you're ready to take me," he says, "I'm in so much pain.
 Please, I'm ready to come home.
But Charles says he feels "the presence of Christ in the room . saying, 'This isn't the time yet.

"One time, he sat right with me on the bed.
The mountains are known as Sangre de Cristo, the blood of Christ.
 Charles focuses on three peaks.
 "Mommy, Daddy, Giovanna," he says.
 A sign they'll always be together, a sign of eternity.

He says a special prayer for Giovanna: "Don't let my daughter find me.
Lessons for a champ
Happy 7th birthday, my darling.
You're in 2nd grade now.
I bet you're playing the piano very wellProbably learning many languagesI just wish you the best life offers -- always.

Charles shuffles through his kitchen when his cell phone rings.
 He pulls the phone from his pocket.
 It's Mike Tyson.


He beams with enthusiasm.

The two men speak by phone three or four times a week.
 They talk about life lessons and philosophize about Aristotle.
 Tyson has young children, too.
 He asks about being a good parent.

On this day, they hastily arrange a visit.

"I want to see you again," Charles says.
 "You're a true friend, Mike, and I love you!"
The two reunited for the first time in years in early March.
 They sat in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the same place where Tyson took a chunk out of Holyfield's ear in 1997.

This time, Tyson wasn't dishing out punishment or acting in a rage.
 He was talking and listening, absorbing everything Charles had to tell him about life.

"I love you, brother," said Tyson.
 "I pray for you every day.
He told Charles to not give up, to keep hanging in strong -- that he needed him here longer.

Tyson clutched Charles' hands for 15 minutes.
 He refused to let go.
 When autograph seekers approached, Tyson flashed a bone-crushing look.
 They quickly scattered.

In Tyson's heyday, when he was the world's dominant boxer and one of sports' notorious bad boys, Charles would offer him advice.
 The reporter saw an inner-city kid who grew up without consequences, a young man with a lot of self-loathing, a guy with a lot of pain.

Charles knew the feeling.
 He grew up poor in inner-city Chicago, the son of a taxi driver who was mostly absent from his life.
 In grade school, during the frigid winters when his dad didn't pay the heat bills, Charles would curl up in bed with his mother and brother to stay warm.

He struggled in high school.
 He had no mentors.
 He was too busy working late-night jobs at produce docks in desolate Chicago neighborhoods.
 Once, his boss pointed to mounds of rat feces, threw lye all over the floor and handed the 17-year-old Charles a pair of gloves, rubber boots and a hoe.

"I'm inhaling this lye and I had to scrape all this stuff off.
 I said to myself, 'I need this job.
 I can't tell this guy to go take a flying leap,' " he says.

"But I also said to myself, 'I'll never be trapped again in life.
' That was a watershed, life-changing moment for me.
 It really drove me to the point where I had focus in my life.
Years later, when boxing promoter Don King first introduced Tyson to Charles in the 1980s, King shouted in his loquacious style, "He's one of us! He's a real guy! He came from nothing!"
At a time when Tyson trusted no one, he listened to Charles.
 "You can break me in two if you want," Charles would say before giving any advice, "but let me throw this out to you.
He told him about his own hard-scrabble life, of longing for a father's love, of the power of forgiveness, of digging deeper to better understand oneself.

Now, as Charles nears death, Tyson is like a sponge.

"He recalls conversations we had," says Charles.
 "He wants me to amplify it more.
 He wants to know what I've learned, because I've made mistakes in my life.
"I try not to dwell on the mistakes.
 You can't undo them.
 But I do try to fasten onto the positives, the things that drove me.
Charles says he got married too young, was too immature to know what a relationship entailed.
 He worked into the wee hours of the night.
 His job kept him on the road.

He first married at 22.
 He had a son, Jason, and a daughter, Melissa.
 He stayed married for eight years; Melissa was a toddler when he divorced.

His second marriage lasted about a dozen years.
 They adopted a baby girl from Korea.
 Katie, now 24, recently qualified for the Boston Marathon, he boasts.

Divorce is an ugly thing, and "innocent kids get hurt and lost in the middle.

"I caused a lot of pain.
 I ripped apart lives," he says.
 "If I have a regret, that's it.
 I love all of them.
He's recorded 10 hours of oral history -- essentially his life story -- for all his children to hear after he's gone.

"With my illness, they've offered me a massive amount of forgiveness.
Steak, scotch and dad
I can't even imagine 8 years old!You're probably riding horsesYou're probably standing up on the horse without a saddle.
That would be what I would expect from youBecause you're so athletic and strong and beautiful.

Charles longed for a relationship with his father, a machine-gunner in World War II who fought in ferocious battles in North Africa and Italy, earning a Bronze Star for his valor.

His father was rarely around to spend time with his two sons.
 He drove taxis at night.
 Other times, he just disappeared.

"He was a voracious reader," Charles says.
 "The few nights he was home, I used to sit with him and read.
 He'd have a pot of coffee on.
 It was the summer.
 We didn't have AC.
 It'd be 80 degrees outside.

"I was maybe 15.
 I would just sit with him and read until 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning, so I could just be next to him.
He still remembers the books they read: Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" and William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury.
"He did the best he could with me.
 I've come to peace with him.
His father was there for him on the most important day of his career, when he auditioned for his first television job in Springfield, Illinois, in the fall of 1970.
 At the time, the young Charles drove a taxi.
 He'd graduated a few months earlier from Columbia College Chicago, where he studied communications and journalism.

Father and son drove the 200 miles to Springfield together, the son in a freshly pressed suit, his soon-to-be signature hair perfect.
 After a two-hour audition for WICS, Charles hopped back into the car: "Dad, I think I did pretty good.
The two dined on steak and scotch.

"It was the greatest day.
 I felt like we were two men who had bonded.
Two days later, he got the job.
 He took a pay cut to enter the television business: $130 a week as a sports anchor, compared to $200 driving a taxi.

Born Nicholas Charles Nickeas, he was told by his news director that his Greek name was too ethnic, to change it to something more "vanilla.
At age 24, Nick Charles was born.
 In two weeks, he went from driving a taxi to having his face on the sides of buses.

Less than two years later, Charles took a giant professional leap, replacing a beloved sports anchor in Baltimore.
 His boss in Springfield told him, "Nick, you're making a huge mistake.

Charles endured months of angry phone calls from viewers and hostility among staff for replacing a legend.
 "It cut deeply.
Yet he persevered.
 Soon, he was No.
 1 in Baltimore -- and viewers loved him.

Before the world would come to know him, there would be stumbles.
 He was canned from a station in Washington in 1979.
 He thought about quitting TV altogether.

The man who People magazine would eventually rank among the most handsome in America went into radio.
 "I enjoyed the humility."
In January 1980, his life changed forever.
 He got a call about a 24-hour news network being formed in Atlanta by Ted Turner.

Charles became the first sports anchor in CNN history.
 And it's at CNN where he shined.

In his prime, he teamed up with Fred Hickman on "Sports Tonight.
" The two had chemistry, charisma and dynamism -- a duo of boundless energy.
 They beat ESPN in ratings when both upstart networks were battling for every viewer.

Hickman, who grew up in Springfield, had long been a fan of Charles.
 "Back when I was a kid," Hickman says, "I remember thinking, 'Nick was the coolest guy ever!'
"We just clicked from the very beginning," Hickman says.
 "In television, you always have personality conflicts.
 Nick and I never had one.
 Nick and I have always had a tremendous relationship.
Viewers tuned in every night to catch the latest sports news.
 Topps put Charles' million-dollar smile on a bubble gum card -- rare for a TV personality.

Women swooned.
 In airports, it was hard to go unnoticed.
 Fans would say: "I love you, Nick Charles! And I hate that guy Chris Berman on ESPN!"
The black-maned, olive-skinned beauty always had a line for them.
 "Please don't use that word -- hate.
 Berman is a friend.
The feelings were mutual.
 "We were competitors but we never felt that way," says Berman.
 "I have nothing but good things to say about Nick Charles -- nothing but admiration -- and I'd like him to know that.
Charles' field producer in those early days was Jim Walton, now president of CNN Worldwide.
 He and Charles traveled the globe together, eating at cheap food joints and working long hours.

The two were in Tokyo in 1990 when Tyson faced a weak opponent named Buster Douglas.
 They didn't plan to do many stories.
 Everyone in press row picked the undefeated world champ to win in the first round.

Charles had gone to Tyson's room the night before the fight.
 He saw a man who wasn't taking Douglas seriously.
 Tyson wanted to get the match over and fly back to the States.

But the unthinkable happened.
 Douglas knocked out Tyson in the 10th round.

"We scrambled," says Walton.

Always a lover of literature, Charles told viewers that Douglas "threw the book at him and it made for bad reading," one of his most famous lines.

"It speaks to the uncertainty," Charles now says of the match, "that anybody's cloak of invincibility can be ripped away.
Charles left CNN in 2001 when the network dropped sports.
 To this day, he and Hickman remain one of the longest anchor duos paired together in television.
 From CNN, Charles moved to Showtime to cover boxing.

Walton says Charles had always been drawn to the sport because "he had to fight for everything he got as a kid growing up.
It's that trait that's helping Charles in his current battle.

"He's handled this like a heavyweight champ," says Hickman.
 "If I can do as well living the rest of my life as he is living out the rest of his, then I will consider it a success.
Charles cries when he talks about the strength of boxers.
 He knows the sport is barbaric; he readily admits that.
 Yet when he looks at the ring, he sees young men like him from the inner city.

Charles, who boxed as a teen, says his upbringing "gave me a love of people who want to make it so bad.
"You're going to get hit.
 You have to take pain to get it," he says.
 "You have to fight through fear.
On that day in August 2009, when he was first given a death sentence, he promised himself: "There's no way I'm going to wimp out on this.
'Peace came over me'
Oh, happy 9th birthday.
And I hope you're listening to Mommy all the timeAnd I hope you're listening to music you love,Maybe traveling to wonderful places.
It's just such a beautiful worldAnd so many glorious places to explore and just be captivated by.

Charles walks with a limp, part of the side effects of chemo.
 His famous hair is now gray, sparse and closely cropped.

He's taken phone calls from Bob Costas, Willard Scott and countless other television stars and athletes.
 He likes it even more when he hears from interns, cameramen, producers and fans -- the blue-collar people who always rooted for him.

Not many people, he says, are fortunate enough to attend their own memorial service.
 A slow death allows that.
 His brother died of a sudden heart attack in 1988 at age 43.
 His father died in 1975, his mother in 2003.
 He's the last of his immediate family.

He reads the Bible often.
 He sprinkles "God bless you" in his conversations.
 He says his wife "brought me back to the Lord" in the 1990s.

He's spent these final weeks with those he loves most.
 He's picked the music for his memorial service -- Edward Elgar's Sospiri op.

"It lifts my spirits.

Last month, he signed off on television for what is likely the last time after calling a featherweight fight on HBO.  "Why am I doing this?" he told viewers.
 "To inspire others to do what they love."

"I had a smile on my face all night," he says now.  "I was on fire!"
He's talked with counselors and hospice workers about his final week.
 It will go something like this: He'll lose his appetite first.
 After three days, he'll be unable to swallow and feel like he's drowning.
 His liver will stop functioning and other organs will follow.
 The cancer will take over completely.

He'll be given morphine to ease the pain.  As a Christian, he struggled with that concept.
 He wanted to make sure he wasn't committing suicide.

"We're not pulling the plug on you early," he was told.
 "We're just keeping you comfortable until the end."
With those words, he says, "Peace came over me."
"I can't believe I feel so good about the last week of my life, but I do.
He hopes his final words will be to that beautiful girl, Giovanna: "I'm going to heaven to prepare a place for you and we're going to be together forever.
Charles has traveled to 70 countries; he has one journey left.
 He hopes his first interview when he gets there will be with Jesus, followed by a round-table discussion with Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi and the Rev.
 Martin Luther King Jr.

"I'd ask them: What motivated them? What sparked them?"
When that day comes, he says, he'll dance around the ring, his head held high, a smile on his face.
 "In the 12th round, somebody is going to raise my hand.
 I'm going to be victorious.

"I finally got my life right.

  Nicks Tips for Life
Don't get married early
Travel the worl
Have a love of language and literature
Learn to love your own company so you're not needy
Ask yourself where do you want to be tomorrow? What about in 5 years, 10 years?
What do I require in a relationship? What am I capable of giving?
Enjoy little moments and turn them into ecstasy.
Fasten onto the positives of life