Unfortunately not all children are blessed to have a father like mine. One who worked hard for the family, was always present, and tried his best to raise his family the right way. As it is fathers day I thought it would be appropriate to share a story I ran across during the lead up to the NFL draft which details the sad truth that far too many children live without one of the most important relationships you can have (watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmFsnzXRgiA).
The Denver Broncos selected Shane Ray as their first round draft pick in this years NFL draft. Like too many kids, football was a way out of a dangerous life for Shane, who became an all-American defensive end and certain first round pick in the NFL draft. While his story is inspiring in many ways, I want to focus on what to me was a truly heart wrenching part of his story.
As the video details (please watch for context), Shane was a second generation football player. His father had also been a standout defensive lineman at Missouri and had a short stint in the NFL that was derailed by injuries. Shane’s father walked out on their family early in Shane’s life and remained mostly out of his life leaving Shane’s mother to raise him.
While that is heartbreaking in and of itself this is only part of the story. When Shane went to Missouri, instead of filling his dorm room walls with posters of his favorite athletes or photos of his loving family he posted something quite different. In his dorm room he pinned all the articles written about his father’s football success he could find on his wall. His motivation? not to honor his fathers legacy but rather to erase him from the record books.
How sad a story when a son feels so betrayed, angry, and unloved by the man he is supposed to be nurtured and supported by that his motivation is to wipe away his memory. While it could be argued that this anger and bitterness helped him become the great football player he is now, I think the scars that are left cannot be mended by a fat NFL contract. While I am not a father yet I pray my son would never have these kinds of feelings towards me.
The most chilling part of the video for me was when Shane’s mother tells the story of Shane’s father not showing up for his signing day party and Shane being distraught afterwards telling his mom, “What do I have to do to get him to love me?” Sadly, for many people there is nothing they can do to be loved and appreciated by their fathers. A fathers love should not have to come from their sons feats on an athletic field. His love should not have to be earned by his straight A’s or by the fancy job he will get when he graduates. A father’s love should be given as a gift. It does not come without discipline but it comes with the intention of always being there for your son when needed.
So happy Fathers Day to the great fathers out there! Your impact is more than you know and you are raising the next generation of husbands, fathers, and leaders. For the sons blessed to have great fathers make sure you tell them how much you appreciate them. For the future fathers, lets take this as a cautionary tale. Be the man your son wants to embrace and not erase.
- Matthew King, Co-founder