“The greatest tragedy in life is wasted talent” (Robert DeNiro’s character in “A Bronx Tale”)
He was a collegiate national champion, an All-American football player and the number-6 pick in the NFL.
He dragged his girlfriend down a flight of stairs before smashing her head into a mailbox, he repeatedly displayed a series of destructive behaviors and even killed a man.
He eventually committed suicide in January of 2016 in his prison cell.
He was Lawrence Phillips, one of the greatest collegiate running backs of all-time and one of the greatest tragedies of life.
It is too bad that he wasn’t the last troubled superstar we heard about.
Aaron Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots, lived in a 7,000 square foot house and had a young daughter.
Aaron Hernandez regularly hung out with drug dealers, was never far from trouble and was a convicted murderer.
Aaron Hernandez died in his prison cell on April 19, 2017.
Aaron Hernandez was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame but took the detour to become one of the greatest tragedies of life.
These are extreme examples, but unfortunately we see this on a daily basis with today’s youth. They make poor choice after poor choice which eventually leads to habitual poor choices which leads to them down a path of destruction.
Unfortunately this destruction has not be only limited to Hernandez and Phillips. The list goes on and on. Jose Fernandez, Chris Henry, Darrent Williams, Rae Carruth and Javaris Crittenton just to name a few.
However, the greatest tragedy in life ISN’T this wasted talent, but rather when we as coaches, teachers, parents and leaders fail to pass on these stories to our youth. We must learn from these examples.
Sure, we can’t make kids do what is right but we can model that behavior and model good decision making skills. Kids need more positive examples in their lives. When they see us fighting with one another, cursing at one another, disrespecting authority figures, having road rage, constantly puffing out our chests while defending our pride or cutting ethical corners, then it is no wonder that they begin making poor choices themselves.
We all make poor choices from time to time. But, as Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit.” The opposite is true as well. All the athletes listed in this article became who they were through repeated poor choices.
Please do not mourn Aaron Hernandez’s death. Instead, count your blessings for how many opportunities that you have each day to pass on these lessons to a young person. You can’t save everyone but you can influence someone. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.
What will you do today to add value to a young person’s life? What will you do to model the correct behavior?
What will you do today so that YOUR talent is not wasted? Your talent for having a positive impact on others and making the world a better place.