Friday, September 4, 2009

Eulls Saves the Day

Over the last few weeks I have become increasingly jaded about the way Black male celebrities get covered in the media, particularly athletes. Negative story after negative story about dudes falling from grace. I am not out to blame the media here, they have to cover this stuff as their job just as they have to report scores and contracts. For some reason, however, it just seems like open season on Black male athletes messing up and I just wonder where the support network is to snatch these dudes before it's too late. It seems that when prominent Black athletes fall, the consequence is far worse than it would be for anybody else. I needed to see a story that offset all the negativity. New York Giant wide receiver Plaxico Burress got two years for shooting HIMSELF in the leg when NY cops get off for shooting Sean Bell. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, continues to let Michael Vick twist in the wind even after the man served TWO years in federal prison and declared bankruptcy. Michael Beasley had to check himself into a mental facility after years of being coddled for his basketball prowess, but not being held accountable for his schooling (Washington Post, 2007). The underlying message sent by these stories is clear: Black males can't handle the privilege of getting paid millions to play sports. Inevitably they will crumble and the media will be there front and center to cover every second. So whether it is Vince Young, Jamaal Tinsley, Ron Artest, or even Renaldo Balkman, whose lucky to be in the NBA and STILL got a DUI, they will all make the front page when they fall. Thankfully, there was reassurance this week that there is hope.

The reassurance came in the form of Kaleb Eulls, a star HS football player in Yazoo County, MS. While riding the school bus home with kids as young as 5, he confronted a girl walking up and down the aisle of the bus waving a gun, and ended up disarming her by tackling her. In the process he saved twenty plus lives. The story is striking in that the young man placed himself in the center of danger to save other kids when he could have easily just hid behind a seat. As a matter of fact, according to reports, he was not even AWAKE when the girl started pacing the bus with the gun. It is also striking the way the young man has handled all the attention that has resulted from this incident. At a time when we "deify" HS athletes from the time they enter 9th grade and wonder why they are cocky by the time they are seniors, this young man has been humble and understated. Needless to say it is refreshing to see.

While it was inspring to see the story of a young Black man risking so much to help his peers, it cannot be ignored that the 14 year-old female girl with the gun now faces 22 counts of attempted aggravated assault and kidnapping. Her life trajectory has now been altered to the point where it will be incredibly difficult to move past this incident. I pray that she is able to have people come into her life that can put her on a path where she can one day become a productive citizen. Hopefully she extracts a lesson from the actions of Mr. Eulls.

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