Rick Reilly has an excellent article in ESPN about taking a grieving nephew to meet John Elway
As locals, Cynthia and I took them to lunch at one of Elway’s restaurants so Jake could see all the jerseys and photos. The kid was so excited he hardly ate. And that was before a certain Hall of Fame QB walked in, all keg-chested and pigeon-toed. Immediately, Jake turned into an ice sculpture.
We introduced them, and it took a few seconds before Jake could even stick out his hand. Apparently, 13-year-olds are not used to meeting gods.
Elway took the time to sign Jake’s football and pose for a picture. He even made us all go outside, where the light was better. Then, as we said goodbye — Jake’s feet floating a foot off the ground — Elway turned and said, out of nowhere, "Hey, why don’t you guys come by the box today?"
And the next thing Jake knew, he was in John Elway’s luxury box at the game, asking him any question he wanted, all with a grin that threatened to split his happy head in half.
Then Elway said, "Comin’ to dinner?"
And suddenly Jake was having his lettuce wedge cut for him by the legend, who tousled the kid’s cowlick. Like a dad might.
Halfway through the night, a guy came out of the bathroom and said, "Are you guys with that kid? Because he’s in there talking to his mom on the phone, crying. Is he OK?"
Yes, Jake would be OK.
He finishes with this
A lot of athletes don’t want the burden that comes with being a role model. But what I want to tell them is: You don’t get to choose. You don’t get to tell 13-year-old boys with holes in their hearts who can help them heal.
I know it’s a hassle, but it matters. Because you never know when you might just lead a kid out to where the light is better.
Kind of makes me feel good about being a life long fan of a certain John Elway.