Personal Story: What Sports Mean to Me

My earliest memories are related to sports. Whenever my friends and I are engaged in some discourse about one of our favorite players or teams, which happens often, I will bring up a memory from 2006 or 2007: Sixers center Samuel Dalembert throwing down a massive dunk, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki hitting a fade-away game-winner, a fourth quarter pick-six from Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. My friends are alarmed, even shocked:

“There is no way in hell you remember that … You were like six years old.”

But I do remember, and I always will. Sports memories have been engrained in my consciousness from as early as I can recall. These memories keep me connected me to my friends and my family and, most of all, they connect me to my brother, Huston.

I would always joke that Huston was a bandwagoner and that he would only cheer for teams that he knew would be in contention for championships and winning seasons. He chose the Green Bay Packers because of their Super Bowl victory in 1997 over the New England Patriots, the Duke Blue Devils because they were a dynasty in the 1990’s with Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner, the Michigan Wolverines because quarterbacks Brian Griese and Tom Brady dominated college football in the late 90’s. He chose winners. He chose success. He chose parades.

All of my favorite teams are just carry-overs from his. I’m a Packers fan, a Duke fan, a Michigan fan all because of Huston. As the younger brother who was always trying to be like big bro, it was a meaningless decision that I was glad to make. And so I sat next to my brother and watched Brett Favre throw either a touchdown or a pick on every throw. I stayed up until 3 a.m. on vacation while we were in a different time zone and sat next to Huston while we watched the 2010 Duke basketball team beat Butler to win the National Championship. I watched Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson’s dreads flow gloriously in the wind as he ran 70 yards to the crib in the Big House, electrifying college football – all with my brother.

In the summer of 2019, my brother passed away. It turned everything in my world upside-down, as death so distinctly does to the bereaved. Since then, I have found myself grasping for memories, images and words to remember my brother by, and – in a way – these sports memories, these teams, these moments, they connect me to him. They remind me of moments sitting next to my role model, cheering and yelling with him. They remind me of basketball conversations in the passenger seat of his car. They remind me of 1-v-1 basketball games in the driveway, soccer matches on the local high school field.

Sports provide me with an infinite depository of images of my brother. And for that reason, I will always love and appreciate sports. For that reason, I will always remember.