Justin Scott, Columnist
Illustration by Sarah Haglund
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is one of the most overused clichés in sports and a decent Kelly Clarkson song – the sentiment behind it however, is spot on. There’s nothing better than a good comeback story, especially in the worlds of music and sports.
One of the most exciting storylines in this year’s NBA season has been the resurgence of Derrick Rose. The former league MVP who seemingly had his incredible young career torn apart by a series of injuries is looking like he’s finally having the comeback season basketball fans have hoped for.
It’s stories like this that show sports are about far more than just stat lines. Athletes are more than their profession. So, when someone who has gone through some of the most challenging trials and tribulations on and off the court starts to see the success they’ve been deemed destined for, it’s always exciting.
The same can be said for just about anyone going through a tough time in their life. Be it a family member, friend, colleague or just about anyone you know. It’s always hard seeing people hurt. It’s this pain that makes seeing them overcome their hurdles and succeed so rewarding. Sometimes though, people need a push or inspiration. And this is when seeing an athlete or musician you’re a fan of fight through their troubles shows that they’re more than just their title.
In a recent interview John Mayer did with Complex magazine alongside Jerry Lorenzo, the head of clothing imprint Fear of God, was an excellent example of this. Seeing two figureheads of their respective industries open up about their personal battles with alcohol did more than just show that they’re doing well on their separate roads to recovery. It showed that even those that are idolized by many have their own issues and aren’t these perfect idols they’re often made out to be.
Another example of this is Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last season, Love wrote an op-ed for the Players Tribune in which he discussed his battles with mental health issues. He received tremendous amounts of support not just regarding his fight, but also for opening up in the way he did. As athletes are often inevitably seen as models of strength, to have one of the league’s stars open up about his mental health not only humanized athletes, it sparked a conversation.
It’s this social power that those on the big screen or stage have that makes their success stories so important. Of course, Kevin Love is by no means the only person facing mental health issues, but he has a far louder voice and bigger platform to speak than most that do. It’s the same with Derrick Rose. So, to see Derrick Rose battle through his injuries and with hard work and a passion for the game, it’s an inspiring story seen not by the few, but by the masses. Once in a while though, the stories that emerge regarding players and their fans are even more inspiring themselves.
Last month a video emerged of a young boy named Daniel Carrillo, who was born with just one hand. For his birthday he received a Shaquem Griffin jersey. The defensive player for the Seattle Seahawks was born with the same condition as Daniel and also has a single hand. After the video spread and Griffin saw it, he reached out to Carrillo with words of support for the boy, who also plays football. It’s these rare moments that allow sport to be more than a game and show people that, (In Kelly Clarkson’s voice) what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.