Once we got there, I could tell that he was still a little low on his energy. We sat down with the Rookers and he talked (or whatever you call what he does) with Mr. Rooker for a few minutes. Then he was done. He told me, before the game even began, that he was ready to go home. The argument that we had driven three hours to watch Mr. Brent play didn’t hold water for him. I think I convinced him that mommy wanted him to watch so he conceded to stay for a little while. One of Mr. Brent’s best friends is Walker Jones, whose family was sitting in front of us, including his two brothers who play football at Alabama (Walker has signed to play at Alabama next year too). I had let Ingram pick out his clothes that morning, and he chose his Mississippi State (where Mr. Brent will play baseball next year) shirt from the Rookers to wear underneath his Florida jersey. That went over well with Harrison and Barrett Jones!
Honestly, I really don’t care about team allegiances anymore – never really did, apart from my well-documented crush on Tebow. But, having a son who is fighting cancer changes how much one cares about these things. The triviality of sports becomes very clear. And while I agree that fame is for the birds, there is a positive side of it. It has been interesting to think through the impact that sports stars, musicians, etc… have on people when they come to St. Jude. I’ve thought about it a good bit, particularly when we were at the hospital so much. It is a weird phenomenon, but a public figure visiting the hospital can have a real impact on people. It brightens the kids’ days, as well as the parents’. It doesn’t really matter if they play on your favorite team or not, or if you like their music, or their politics. It just matters that they have taken the time to take an interest in your child. And as a father, that gesture is so much more meaningful than a lifetime of rooting for a team.
So, Barrett Jones just finished his career at Alabama with three national championships and three All-American awards at three different positions on the offensive line. He also graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 in accounting and just finished his Master’s in Accounting, also with a 4.0. He’ll presumably go somewhere in the first two rounds of this year’s NFL draft (Ingram and I will be watching). For those casual fans, he’s the 6’5”, 311 pound lineman who popped his own quarterback for acting silly in the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship game against Notre Dame. According to the folks at St. Jude, he has already become a frequent visitor at St. Jude. According to everyone who talks about him, as good of a football player as he is, he’s an even better person. Barrett’s little brother, Harrison, is a 6’4”, 245 pound tight end at Alabama. He also has two national championships and according to inside and biased sources, will be the starting tight end this year.
So, I wanted Ingram to take a picture with these guys. And they were great about it. Ingram was really tired and didn’t want to participate, and he cried as soon as I passed him to Barrett. It was great watching Barrett try to calm Ingram down, which wasn’t working. I felt like Dad-of-the-Year for making my son cry just so I could get a picture of him with two football players. But he normally snaps out of it pretty quickly when he gets picture-shy. This time he didn’t. He insisted that all he wanted to do was to go see Mr. Brent (who was in the middle of a State Championship basketball game at this point). I told him we couldn’t because the game was going on still. But Ingram told me that Mr. Brent let him come on the football field so it would be okay if we went on the basketball court. Nothing seemed to work! But, at the end of the game, Ingram finally let us take a picture. Barrett and Harrison were great with him. They told him that they needed a good picture so they could put it up on their wall (which Ingram reminded me of later when he insisted that I send the picture to them). Yes, Ingram insists on a lot things now. And while I still like Florida, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barrett Jones jerseys in the house this fall, nor to be too upset if Harrison Jones catches the winning pass against Florida.
ECS lost the basketball game but it wasn’t really fair. ECS had a linebacker, a quarterback/first baseman, a wide receiver, and two basketball players starting against five guys who played like Allen Iverson. It was fun, nonetheless, to watch Mr. Brent play in his second State Championship game of his senior season. Ingram fell asleep in Belle Meade with a chicken nugget from Wendy’s still in his hand and woke up in our driveway!
|Getting some ZZZs in on the way to the big game.|
|Happy to see Mr. Rooker!|
|"I just want to go see Mr. Brent"|
|Five national championships and one Conqueror!|
|Ingram with Mr. Brent's little brother, Joshua.|
|And...he's out again. He was so tired that, even after three hours of sleep|
on the way home, he insisted on sleeping in the car when Ashley
tried to bring him inside.