The Ever-Inspiring Dr. King

MLK Quote 2014

Yes, I may be guilty of playing the race card more than most folks I know, but don’t let that fool you. I couldn’t be more proud of my African-American heritage, a fact that is cause for pause and reflection on days like this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Above is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. It’s one that not only helps inspire me to remain motivated, but to maintain perspective on life’s greater purposes as well. Enjoy the day, everyone.

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My Take on TIME’s Person of the Year

Miley

TIME magazine unveiled Pope Francis as its Person of the Year today. No disagreement here, as the guy who’s been dubbed the “People’s Pope” has in nine month’s time made great strides in his attempt to lead one of the world’s largest (and in recent years most fractured) institutions. His intensely humble demeanor and messages of acceptance, unity and social justice have certainly resonated with Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The runner-up for TIME’s honor was Edward Snowden, the computer contractor who fled to Moscow amidst charges of espionage after he leaked classified documents to shed light on the NSA’s extensive surveillance programs, which has created an international conversation about privacy as it relates to national defense and the prevention of terrorism. Whether you see him as a hero or a traitor, he’s certainly a tenable runner-up to Pope Francis.

As a big fan of TIME’s Person of the Year issue, every year I find myself mulling over the other individuals who must have come up – even if only jokingly – in the selection committee’s discussion. All ten finalists (below) are of course deserving of being deemed finalists, but I thought I’d also note a few other newsmakers who’ve crossed my mind over the course of the day.

TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year Finalists
Bashar Assad (President of Syria)
Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder)
Ted Cruz (U.S. Senator to Texas)
Miley Cyrus (singer/actress and twerking extraordinaire)
Pope Francis (Leader of the Catholic Church)
Barack Obama (U.S. President)
Hassan Rouhani (President of Iran)
Kathleen Sebelius (U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services)
Edward Snowden (N.S.A. Leaker)
Edith Windsor (Gay rights activist)

My 2013 POY Honorable Mentions
Amanda Bynes (recovering celebrity train wreck)
Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey)
Jason Collins (first openly gay athlete in the four major American team sports)
John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President)
Nelson Mandela (South African anti-apartheid activist turned president)
Marissa Mayer (President and CEO of Yahoo!)
Mohamed Morsi (Egypt’s ousted fifth president)
Prince George (William and Kate’s son and third in line to the throne)
Dennis Rodman (NBA Hall of Famer and friend to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un)
Manti Te’o (current San Diego Charger who had the ultimate fake girlfriend at ND)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (indicted Boston Marathon bomber)
Kerry Washington (actress Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal)
George Zimmerman (cleared of murdering Trayvon Martin)

Photo credit: Spin Magazine

Joey Feminella: Going for the Win

Sure, many NCAA programs adopt kids onto their teams. But few can boast such a powerful and enduring bond like the one my coworker Alex and I had the opportunity to witness firsthand at Stony Brook University this past weekend. Check out the story of 14-year-old cancer survivor Joey and Seawolves Football, which turned out to be one of the more compelling pieces that we’ve produced this fall.

You May Want to Grab a Kleenex

This fall a couple of my coworkers and I are traveling to each of our league’s 11 schools as part of our CAA Football On Campus initiative, which I liken to a small-scale version of ESPN’s College Gameday. One element of our initiative is producing a human interest series that we call Going Deep in which we feature the unique and often untold stories of a student-athlete (or coach) at each of our schools, which range from the University of Richmond right here in RVA to the University of Maine in Orono, which is in fact not on the Arctic Circle like most people would have me believe.

As I’ve told a number friends and fam, telling these stories is probably the most meaningful work that I’ve done to date in this profession. Given that we’re so accustomed to hearing about athletes’ performances on the field – or their wrongdoings away from it – talking with these student-athletes and sharing their manifold stories has been a true pleasure and makes every bit of the grind so worthwhile. We’ve also worked with Comcast to feature these videos during halftime of our television broadcasts, which helps promulgate the stories and what we’re doing to tell them each week.

We’ve visited five campuses thus far and have another six to go through the end of November. I wanted to share the five Going Deep features that my exceptionally talented coworker Alex Souza and I have produced thus far. They’re released along with our other On Campus content (you know I’m all about those campus tours) every Tuesday morning on CAA Football’s official Every Day Is Saturday blog. I’ll continue posting the videos here on the blog as well.

Disclaimer: Not only will you hear my voice in a couple of them (holla), but you may want to grab a Kleenex, especially for this first one…

One Down, Eight to Go

99 Problems Running

I can now officially say that I survived my first week of half marathon training. Okay, so survived may be a bit melodramatic, as I’ve quickly come to learn that this process is far less about survival than it is about simply enjoying the process.

I won’t lie that I used to be daunted by the prospect of running a half, and by distance running altogether for that matter. But, now that I’ve embraced running and taken it more seriously in terms of consistency and competing in a few races, it’s become a mainstay; a required yet welcome part of my routine.

A friend once told me how he starts feeling like some kind of “grouchy fucking bum” after a couple days of not running, and I can totally sympathize. Another friend recently remarked that “Running is a lifestyle.” Again, holla. I view it as not only a means of fitness, but a way to be more in touch with your body and better aware of how you treat it. I guess it goes back to the whole “Your body is a temple.” mantra, which correlates nicely with the vegan thing.

And moreover, why be intimidated by a half? I mean, let’s face it, we all know someone who’s done one that you’d in no manner refer to as a “runner,” a notion that has allowed me to adopt an “If they can do it, then hell anybody can.” mentality.

When it comes down to it, I think the single most important factor involving running is motivation (one’s playlist being a close second). Running gets me out of bed in the morning or feeling inspired to hit the gym over the occasional lunch break, either leaving me feeling hella good the rest of the day.

For much of this, I’ve gotta thank my girl, TL, who lent me her training schedule (below) and who’s become one helluva guru. Between her explanations (I took one look at Wednesday’s training and gave her a call.) and insightful stories, the wise and often inspirational words from others in my life, along with what I’ve found online (pic above), I think I’ll be golden.

With that said, bring on week two!

Half Training Schedule Screen Shot

My Dad, Will Smith and Me

Dad Fam Pool

Writing Saturday’s post about the strange cast of characters that I’m proud to call my family served as another reminder of what a fantastic job my parents did raising us Burri over the years. My various life experiences, and perhaps most notably teaching for two years, have made me see how significant and positive a role having an involved father in one’s life can be in who he or she becomes later in life.

When you’re a 20-something like me, you generally start trying to define yourself, often without any awareness or acknowledgement of the whole process. As I approach the big 3-0, I’ve done a bit more reflecting on the person I’ve become and have increasingly come to the see the truth behind the many comments on how similar I am to my dad.

While I don’t profess to share his penchant for napping or (lack of) organization skills, there are many traits that the two of us undoubtedly share. To name a few, we both have a love of the guitar, good music, peanut butter, road trips and technology. More importantly, however, I like to think that I’ve become the compassionate, cultured, inquisitive, driven, fiercely loyal, fun loving, overly sarcastic and accepting person I am today because of him.

I’m proud to say that I see so much of myself in my dad (and Mama Burrus, of course). While there are entirely too many things to list for which I’ll be forever grateful to my parents, one of the most striking at this moment is that they always made sure my siblings and I appreciated and embraced our African-American heritage, and that we never tolerate any form of prejudice because of it. I can safely say that I’m not only the man I’ve become because of my parents, but the Black man I am because of them as well.

Anyone who knows my dad is also keenly aware of his kind heart, ever-chill demeanor and the prudence he exercises in his choice of words and their timing in a given situation. With that said, I recently saw a quote from (the fake Twitter account of) Will Smith that reminded me very much of my dad (and indeed myself) that I wanted to end on here.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 11.09.37 PM

And as on Mother’s Day, since the fam and I couldn’t physically reunite for the holiday, we met up on Google Hangout – a pic for your viewing pleasure…

Fathers Day Hang Out

Do It For Christina!

Christina

Those who know me know I’m not one to get emotional or to ask for money (okay, well at least not often, Mom and Dad), but I’m going to do a little of both here.

Before I ask you to donate, though, let me first ask if you recall your response when people ask you about your role models growing up. Our first response is typically a parent or adult relative or sometimes a sports star or other celebrity.

But how often was one of your greatest role models another peer? This was the case for me with my cousin Christina (pictured above – weren’t we precious?), who has long suffered from cystic fibrosis. I have vivid memories of her having to cart around an oxygen tank in middle school and of her experiencing serious shortness of breath during our trips to the mall.

I think back to the hospital visits, and to the night in college when I learned that a match was found and Christina would soon be undergoing a double lung transplant. I remember my mom calling the match a Christmas miracle, which of course it was. Nevertheless, I was used to miracles bringing joy and not precipitating apprehension. Thankfully Christina made it through the surgery and ensuing several months of recovery – almost literally living in a bubble cut off from most family members and friends – as well as anyone could have hoped.

Through it all, Christina has been both a trooper and a fighter. I’ve never met someone who’s been through so much yet remained so implacably positive; more so than anyone else I’ve ever known. She’s always appeared undaunted by her condition; unfazed by her outward differences. I mean, she was a cheerleader and basketball player growing up – to hell with the oxygen tank!

Christina embodies every bit of what a role model should be. And I’m proud to say she continues to impact the lives of others and to live her own life to the fullest as a pharmacist, wife and proud wiener dog owner. Oh, and as one helluva cousin and friend.

I’ve learned many lessons from her, including courage, perseverance, living each and every day to the fullest and always doing your best not to complain because you can always have it worse. Another equally important lesson I’ve learned is the need to fight for those people who have so greatly impacted our lives.

This is why I’m writing this post and why I’ll again be volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk next Saturday, May 18. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of asking for money, but I’m going to do so here.

Please support Team Do It For Christina! with whatever amount you’re willing and able to give. Seriously, every extra dollar helps to find a cure.

If I meet my goal of $300, which I set in honor of Christina turning 30 this past year, I plan to finally take the plunge and sign up for a half marathon – the Patrick Henry Half Marathon here outside of Richmond in August. Meeting my goal, then, would not only help me cross another item off my bucket list, but to raise money to help give kids with CF more years to complete their own bucket lists as well.

You can find my team page here and learn more about CF here. Thank you in advance if you choose to donate. Thanks also for taking the time to read today’s post.