So last night I served as the MC at a Thuzio event featuring Rick Fox and Robert Horry at a restaurant in Los Angeles.
It was really cool, and really fun, and really easy. You could not find two better—and more entertaining—retired athletes than Rick and Robert, both of whom made my job ridiculously simple. I oftentimes found myself simply listening to their stories without thinking about the next question. Which is the ultimate compliment, because when you’re serving as a sort of moderator, you’re always thinking about the next question.
Anyhow, there were tons of amazing anecdotes, but one thing truly stuck with me. At some point during the evening, Horry was trying to explain why he was never afraid of hitting (or missing) the crunch shot at the biggest moment. He started to talk about his daughter Ashlyn, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and died in 2011 at age 17. He said that when you have a sick child at home, you realize basketball means nothing. Which might sound like a cliche—only it wasn’t. Horry disputed the commonly held belief that athletes have to live and die with the sport; that it needs to mean everything; that if you’re not 100-percent committed—mentally, physically—you’re doomed.
Perspective, he insisted, made him a seven-time NBA champion. His lack of fear had nothing to do with upbringing, or an inspired speech, or Phil Jackson’s mojo or Greg Popovich’s intensity. Nope, he simply came to realize that—hit or miss—he still had a family and a house and a life outside of basketball.
I love that.
PS: Shortly after Ashlyn passed, Robert wrote this letter.