Sports Column

There are very few examples of inspiring athletes in sports these days. Sure, plenty of players could serve as good role models for our youth, but a batch of athletes set a horrible precedent through their actions either on or off the playing field. Guys like Carmelo Anthony and Randy Moss, who constantly find ways to get in trouble with the law, are both top performers in their respective sport. But do they deserve the positive attention received on a daily basis, despite all the great accomplishments on the field?

Carmelo Anthony came into the public eye after making his first mistake: leaving Syracuse after one year to enter the NBA Draft.

I could never understand why some athletes only attain one or two years of a college education and bolt for the professional level despite not being fully ready. Melo was definitely ready as a basketball player, single-handedly leading his school to their first national title, but not as a person.

Anthony’s encounters with the law have been numerous during his five years of professional basketball, whether he was being picked up twice for possession of marijuana or getting arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Even on the basketball court, he showed the world his immaturity when he punched Nate Robinson in the face during the infamous Nuggets/Knicks brawl in 2006 and was suspended for 15 games.

We do not know what type of upbringing this young man had, and it could involve just being around the wrong people. The main point is that I certainly would not want my kid to look up to this athlete as a role model, considering Anthony can use a positive influence himself.

For the countless number of criminals and punks in sports, there are some heart-wrenching stories of athletes persevering through tough circumstances. The athlete who comes to mind is New Orleans Hornets’ point guard Chris Paul, an emerging young superstar in the NBA.

While his performance on the court attracts most of the positive attention he receives, Paul’s off-the-court past involves an inspiring story of a young man losing his closest relative. His grandfather was beaten to death during a robbery at the age of 61, and the man known as CP3 was leaning towards taking his senior season off.

He decided to play and wanted to dedicate his first game to his late grandfather in a special way. How does he do that, you might ask? Chris Paul dominated the game and scored 61 points, one for each year of his grandfather’s life. He got to the free-throw line after getting to 61, airballed his shot and walked off the court into his father’s arms. Now that is simply incredible.

The 22-year-old continues to give back to the community and has given millions of dollars to support those who lost family members during Hurricane Katrina. Chris Paul might not be perfect, since none of us are, but he is a great example of a positive role model for young kids in America.

I can list some other athletes who effectively promote ideals such as sportsmanship, giving back to the community and acting as a leader on and off the playing field. But the reality is that these individuals are hard to find in today’s society.

Bold Prediction: With the Kentucky Derby this weekend, I’ll pick Monba to win the most important leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Weird names usually win it.

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