My son Max was seven years old when he was first diagnosed with scoliosis. Ever since, the treatment modality has been to contain his curves until he stops growing. Our collective goals have been to avoid surgery since that presents a multitude of unwanted issues and challenges. 18-20 hours a day in a full torso brace has been all he has known for the past seven years. As a thirteen year old, he is now over six feet tall and has goals to play basketball in college. He still has scoliosis and will for his entire life.
Nearly immediately following his diagnosis, I did some research and found a professional athlete who has overcome scoliosis and risen to the highest ranks in his sport. His name is James Blake, a professional tennis player who was ranked as high as #4 in the world. James became Max’s role model as he developed and lived by the mantra:
“My brace holds MY back, not ME back”
James Blake’s signed jersey hangs on a wall in a frame in Max’s room. It is there as a reminder to Max that he can do anything, overcome anything and reach his goals, just like James did. James Blake was and is a true inspiration, in a very special way.
Last Saturday night, as I was walking out of a crowded restaurant with my wife and another couple, we passed a table. There was James Blake, enjoying the evening and eating sushi. We walked outside having said nothing to him. And then it hit me. We needed to go back in and speak to him. I needed to tell him about Max and how he has inspired my son over the past seven years. I could not miss this opportunity. So we went back inside and spoke to him at the table.
This was an important moment for me. Maybe it was even more important for James Blake. Sometimes, we do not realize the inspiration we leave in our wake. There are many people who we touch along the way and it is quite possible that we forget who they are. We typically do not dwell on such things. However, it is something we must never forget.
The many lives who we inspire may go unnoticed to us and may pass like a fleeting and mundane day. However, he/she who has been forever inspired will neither forget you nor the moment that you changed their perspective forever.
Thank you James Blake!