Archive for the ‘death’ Category

I had fallen asleep on my couch with my TV on ESPN.  However, I woke up and noticed a mural on the left hand side of the screen showing Muhammad Ali’s face.  Before my eyes could adjust and focus on the words on the screen, I knew that Ali had died.  I’d just spoken to my cousin about Ali just hours ago about how grave his condition was.

My first “favorite athlete”,  Muhammad Ali, was dead at the age of 74 years old.

There aren’t many men like Ali being produced in this country any more.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  He had his issues when it came to his wives.  He wasn’t perfect.  But he did more for this country than anyone who may have stepped foot on the White House lawn in the past 50 years.

People who don’t know the man think that he was “The Greatest” because of what he did inside the boxing ring.  No.  Ali was “The Greatest” for what he did outside of the boxing ring.  Ali inspired the world with his approach to day-to-day living.  He was a motivational speaker.  He was a civil rights activist.  He was an entertainer.  Oh, he was such an entertainer!

Ali had a relationship with the media that we will never see again.  He gave interviews that resembled stand up comedy sets.  The beneficiary of many of those interviews was a sports commentator named Howard Cosell.

Cosell and Ali were partners.  They fed off of each other in their interviews to become two of the biggest figures in sports.  The respect that they had for one another provided entertainment for more than a decade.  Despite their close relationship, Cosell remained unbiased in his journalist approach unlike what we see with some talking heads today.

Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali turned each other into legends.

Ali won many awards and honors during and long after his boxing career.  I won’t go through all of his accomplishments because the talking heads will do that over the next week.  However, I will mention his impact on today’s culture.  Ali started a culture of brashness that we see in sports today.  This was a man who not only showed you in the ring that he was “The Greatest”, he would tell you that he was, too.  The predictions that athletes make today, the “getting in the head” of their opponents, and things like that were made famous by Ali.

Seated: Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

He embraced his blackness and his message resonated throughout black communities around the country.  He stood for his beliefs regardless of the controversies and criticisms that surrounded him which is something athletes refuse to do today.  Ali didn’t care if you liked him.  He didn’t care if he lost money from losing fans.  Heck, he didn’t even care if he went to jail for what he believed.

Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X

There are many things that I wish that I could change with the world.  There are many things that I wish that I could go back in time and fix.  But if I had one wish to change anything regarding Muhammad Ali, it would be for him to forever have his voice.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984 and it slowly robbed him of all of the gifts that he’d displayed for us over the previous 25 years prior to that.  If he only had the opportunity to continue speaking, what would his contributions to black communities and to his religion would have meant to society today?

Muhammad Ali and Sam Cooke

Would he have put black athletes and celebrities in their place when it came to their selfishness?  Would he have continued to inspire people to do more with their lives and not be ordinary?  What would Ali have given us had his voice not been trapped inside of his body?

We will never know.  The first athletic entertainer is gone.  A lot of people speculated that Ali was in a bad place this time around as we got word that he was being hospitalized.  Over the course of 24 hours, we all knew that his condition was getting worse and that he may be passing on.  Despite that being the fact, it still feels like a body punch to the gut to wake up and find out that my favorite athlete is gone.

R.I.P., Champ.


Many great musical artists have come and gone in my life, but this one feels different. I enjoyed Luther. I adored Whitney. I was awed by Michael. But none of them delivered art to my senses like Prince.

Not just music, but fashion, color, acting, and dancing. Prince was a multi-tooled performer and to think that his talents are gone forever is such a shame. This is a man who spent almost 40 years of his life bringing us music that we’ve dance to, nodded our heads to, and definitely made love to. He went from being labeled as a “freak” and “weirdo” in the late 70’s/early 80’s to literally being considered royalty just a decade later.

I feel so sorry for the Millennials who can’t seem to wrap their brain around what a musical genius truly is.  And to think some of them were probably conceived to Prince’s music.  SMH.  My definition of “greatness” doesn’t line up with theirs at all.  Greatness is not the number of Twitter followers you have.  Greatness is not the kind of car you drive.  Greatness is not being heard on the radio every 20 minutes.

  • Greatness is walking into a room and seeing people forget their own names.  
  • Greatness is leaving a lineage of other performer’s music behind you (Sheila E., Sheena Easton, Morris Day & The Time, Wendy & Lisa, Apollonia, Vanity, Tevin Campbell, Jesse Johnson, and more).  
  • Greatness is being offered an opportunity to complete an entire movie soundtrack (“Batman”).  Not one song, but the entire soundtrack album!  
  • Greatness is having a sketch comedy show like Saturday Night Live dedicate their show to you.  A comedy show celebrating a musician?  Where they do that at?  
  • Greatness is being recognized by a color or a symbol.

I have a cousin who is from Minnesota and has encountered Prince on several occasions.  I haven’t spoken to him since Prince’s death, but he has a ton of stories to share about him.  Just like me, my cousin listens to music “from the inside-out.”  It’s difficult to explain, but it’s essentially focusing on the accompanying instruments first and working your way to the more dominant instruments like the bass or drums later.  It’s making an attempt to “hear a song within a song” is the best way that I can put it.

Prince was a master of giving you that little extra that a lot of people would rarely notice no matter how many times they’d hear a particular song of his.  I have such an appreciation for what he did and it’s a shame that it ended last Thursday.

I’m not one to mourn celebrities like I mourn people I actually know personally.  I just don’t get attached like that to people that I’ve never met.  However, I do miss the talent when it is taken from us.  We don’t have a lot of musicians left.  We don’t have too many music artists who are so talented that other A-List celebrities stutter when trying to speak to them.

Prince was a one-of-a-kind entertainer and his talents will be missed dearly.  A friend of mine posted this lyric on Facebook that very much describes how so many people felt last week.  It comes from the Parade album which was the soundtrack to the movie, “Under the Cherry Moon.”

Sometimes it snows in April 
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad 
Sometimes I wish life was never ending, 
And all good things, they say, never last

Truer words have never been spoken, Prince.

I lost my mom on June 5th, 2012. She was 69 years old. I remember leaving the hospital room with an empty feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I felt as if I should accompany the body to the morgue because I didn’t want to leave her alone.  I remember how distraught that I was at the funeral and how it hit me that I would never hear her call my name again.

But, like most things in life, you get stronger as time passes. Now almost three years later I don’t have the same outlook on her passing. I smile with pride every time I hear any mention of her because I know that I was lucky to have her as a mother. A majority of us should feel the same way. 

Fortunately enough for me I had the opportunity to enjoy my mom for 40 years before she was called home. That’s a lot more than some people can say. For that I am thankful. There are a lot of people who didn’t get much time with their mom for whatever reason and I realize that.

I thank God every night for my mom because of her influence in making me who I am today. She did what any good parent should do: taught me right from wrong and she taught me how to be a leader and not a follower.

I miss going over to my parents house on Mother’s Day to give her a card.  I miss taking her to breakfast the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  I miss giving her a hug when I walked in her kitchen.  She’s gone, but she’s definitely not forgotten.

To all of you who still have your mothers, remember that you only get one.  Maximize the time that you have with her and hug her as often as you can.

“There is nothing more special in life than someone who can give it.” -Q

Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014
Remember when there were certain things you didn’t do simply because you were taught to respect it? Yeah, some of you probably don’t. My generation is the blame for that. My generation is the one that decided to let kids raise themselves. We are the generation that decided that schools should be solely responsible for teaching our kids because we’re too tired. We give them smartphones/tablets to allow kids to be in their own world because we don’t want them disrupting ours.

Because of that, nothing is sacred.

To let you get an idea of how far our level of respect for almost anything has declined, I’ll use the following example that most kids born 1975 and earlier (especially minorities) may be familiar with: in my house when I was a child we had furniture in a certain room that we were not allowed to use. There was a couch in the living room that my parents said was for “company only.” I wasn’t even allowed in the room without a good reason. That couch was deemed sacred and I don’t recall ever setting my butt on it before it got older and was given away to a needy family. I respected it because my parents taught me to respect it. Regardless of how silly it may have been it taught me something.  It taught me restraint.  It taught me to respect something that was not necessarily important to my life simply because someone else had an appreciation for it.

Over time and due to the lack of actual parenting, more things have lost its sacredness. Elders are no longer respected. Presidents are no longer respected. Religions are no longer respected. But, the one thing that I always thought would remain sacred can be added to that list: speaking ill or making fun of the dead.

At one time people only felt comfortable with criticizing or insulting the dead based on either how long ago the person died (hence the phrase “too soon?”) or if the person died doing something illegal or stupid (Darwin Awards). Now there are no moral restrictions on insulting or criticizing any one regardless of when they died, cause of death, or even the stature of the person who died.

Today I read quite a few disrespectful memes and jokes on the death of author / motivational speaker, Maya Angelou. I even came across a columnist who trashed Maya Angelou as a person on a blog site.

As a blogger, I can’t tell people not to have an opinion simply because it differs from mine. I want people to speak their minds because some things just need to be said. But, why just hours after her death? Why post jokes almost immediately? Why demonize her (or anyone else for that matter) when the grieving has just started?

I’ll tell you why: because it’s more satisfying (to some) to be funny and/or popular than it is respectful.

Social media entices people to do things that will make other people take notice. All of us with strong opinions push the envelope or cross the line at some point. I’ve crossed the line myself on many topics, I’m sure. Maybe not maliciously, but it’s still crossing the line to get a reader’s attention.

But I never posted a meme or a blog post insulting or criticizing someone who died. Because to me that would be the equivalent of putting muddy shoes on my mom’s couch in that living room I mentioned earlier.  There are still some things in this world that I will deem as “sacred” even if no one else will.  And a person’s death is one of them.

What do you think about the level of disrespect you see online all for the sake of being funny/popular?

Normally, I reserve taking a trip to the movie theater for action films.  I just feel like I can get more bang for my buck to see/hear explosions on the big screen.  Comedies and dramas seem more appropriate for Netflix at home.

However, since I’m in a relationship now, those decisions aren’t always mine.  So, when something comes out that she wants to see, then I make it my business to give her the same courtesy of going as she does for me.  This recently included the movie, “The Best Man Holiday.”
It’s a sequel to the 1999 movie, “The Best Man” which was about some dude who got married to a woman who cheated on him with his best friend.  Well, there was more to it than that, but I don’t want to get into all of that.
Anyhoo, this movie has been rated only 5 or 6 stars out of 10 from most movie review websites.  I tend to disagree.  This movie had everything: singing, comedy, drama, tragedy, and even action.  
Because of the ratings, this movie will probably not win any major awards.  The actors, who were all on-point, will not be walking the red carpet with any hardware for their efforts either.  Mainly because most people prejudge this movie before even walking into the theater.  After all, it’s a “black movie” to most of the critics.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  You could have substituted any race in this movie and it would have still been virtually the same.  
What I got most from the movie is that TBMH really taught some life lessons throughout those 123 minutes.  I can say that definitively because it hit really close to home in regards to one of the main plot lines.
* SPOILER ALERT * (skip to the Spoiler Alert ending if you plan on seeing this movie)
It hit close to home for me because it involved a man on the verge of starting the “cruise control” part of life who lost his wife to a slow death — cancer.  Morris Chestnut’s character, Lance, had to learn how draw strength from his wife’s suffering.  She taught him how to love, forgive, and appreciate.  He did everything that she said because he knew that she was telling him “the right thing.”  You tend to take things a lot more seriously coming from the mouth of someone who is dying.
The viewers of this movie will learn that, too.  At least I hope that they will.  Too often I see people who don’t appreciate what they have in their family and friends.  They take people for granted with the utmost of confidence that they’ll always be around.  They treat people poorly not thinking of how that person could be gone with the next breath.  They dismiss opportunities to spend time with someone because they assume there’s always tomorrow.  They never miss a good thing until it’s taken away from them.
That’s not me.  Although there are some things I would do differently if I had a do-over with my mom and The Mrs. if they were still alive, I have no regrets.  I enjoyed them while they were here and never stopped showing my appreciation.  It doesn’t mean that I didn’t have lapses.  There were times I could have been a better son/husband.  But, I’m human.  Those things will happen.  I’ve learned from those lapses and it has made me a better son to my father and I’ll be an even better husband when that time comes.
The main thing is that now that they’re gone, I can look myself in the mirror and say with confidence that I showed them that I loved them both.  For those of you who have never lost a parent, child, close friend, etc., can you do the same?  
If someone in your household died tomorrow, can you honestly look in the mirror and say that “I gave them 100% of me?”  Will they take their last breath knowing that you love them?