When I first decided to become a reporter, I didn't do it for the scores, the stats, to have my name in the pape--r or even the free food needed to supplement such grossly high salaries.
No, it was the chance to be a historian - to document the memorable scenes, events and places which occur every day, was why you are now reading these words.
In my 13 years as a sports reporter, the memories and the people who made them are what stand out. Among them are a couple helping a poor Alaska High School football team get a field, a double-amputee man running the Iron Man, a young college athlete playing football in front of his father for the first time at in a Division II semifinal game. The reasons I enjoy sports reporting are the people who make up the games, not necessarily the games themselves.
This weekend I was reminded of that.
During my three years as a reporter in Valdosta prior to coming to the Atlanta area, covering the mecca of high school football, I was assigned the Lowndes High beat. I was witness to two state championships, an undefeated season, nationally televised games, matchups of top-10 nationally ranked teams and a number of Division I talents.
Among those talents was a soft spoken giant of a ninth grader. As he first started playing, it was easy to notice the young man who moved opponents out of the way of Lowndes' vaunted Wing-T offense with ease.
As he played during his sophomore season, at about 6-foot-5, college coaches started noticing. Talking with college coaches, they would have loved to have him on their team; even as a sophomore, they knew he would be playing at a high level.
Covering the 2008 state championship Vikings team, I interviewed this player several times and it was evident that he would continue on a path to becoming a great player. And it wasn't because of his massive size or talents, but because of his attitude and personality.
He was always working hard, always in the Lowndes' field house. He was a leader, and a friend to his teammates. Those are the kids who make it.
I've seen dozens of young players with immense amounts of talent, but as the cliché says talent only gets you so far. The attitude and intelligence of a young athlete is what takes him far down life's path. Sadly the path, of this once promising young athlete was cut short this weekend. Ed Christian was showing his character, according to reports, in trying to break up a fight at an apartment complex near Auburn, Ala.
While the former Auburn football player, who had to stop playing football because of back problems was attempting this alleged selfless act, he was fatally shot and killed late Saturday night.
The suspect of three murders, Christian, 20, Ladarious Phillips, 20, and Demario Pitts, 20, fled the scene, and as of Tuesday afternoon was still at large.
While a suspected murderer remains free, Christian who seemed destined for anything but becoming a victim is no longer free to realize his potential.
Christian could no longer play football due to doctor's orders, but he was still at Auburn working on a degree, still participating in the Auburn football team's study halls and still working toward a degree. Even after his football dream ended, he continued to be what made his stand out to a young reporter years ago, a young man with a great attitude and a sense to be more than an athlete.
Death is not what anyone wants to cover, but it's people like Ed Christian, who make reporting and capturing the good in a world that loves to dwell on the bad, encourage people like myself to continue to try and tell the stories of young men with promises of great things to come because of the games they play.