When my nephew Nathaniel died 8 years ago, an internet friend wrote some words that meant so much to me that I have not forgotten them, even after all this time.
I never knew him, but all of our lives have been enriched by our very awareness of him. Go ahead and cry, then rejoice that he was among us for that little while.I never knew Reggie Garrett, but I have been touched by this tragedy, for that is my town. That was my school. I walked those same halls. I may have even had some of the same teachers. I watched games on that same field. I remember when his head coach, Dan Hooks, was hired.
I never knew Reggie Garrett, but my life had been enriched by my awareness of him. In reading about him, in hearing the words of those who did know him, I have found out that he was a good kid. It sounds cliche, but in his case, he really was a good kid. He was smart, well liked and motivated. He was a leader both on the field and in the classroom. As his head coach Dan Hooks told us through his own tears, "Reggie was the kind of kid you couldn't say anything bad about. You couldn't even say, 'Well, he didn't do his homework', because he did his homework."
You've often heard athletes talk about giving 110%. It wasn't so with Reggie. With him, it was about giving 112%. Those who knew him say it's because that was the number he wore. They're probably right, but maybe, just maybe it could be because he wanted to do just a little bit more, to give just a little bit more, to be just a little bit better. I'd kind of like to think so.
Tonight, the boys from West Orange Stark high school will take one giant step down the road to becoming men. Tonight, they'll lace up their cleats, strap on their helmets, and for the first time, they'll step back onto the football field. That same field where just two short weeks ago, one of their own left this life. It won't be easy for them, but they'll do it.
And they'll win. They'll sweat, they'll fight, they'll claw, they'll bleed. They may even cry a little bit, but they'll win. They'll do whatever it takes to win. Whatever it takes.
They'll give their 112%.
When I look at my own life, when I think about the dedication of Reggie Garrett, I wonder...what can I do to day to honor, not just his memory, but the courage and strength of his team mates who now must carry on without him.
What can I do to give my 112%?