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home : sports : local July 28, 2015

5/9/2013 6:00:00 AM
Matt Kemp's gesture hits close to home

Rodney Haas
Miner Sports Reporter

I was thumbing through Facebook Wednesday morning as I was getting ready for work, catching up on some of the latest news from overnight when this link to a Yahoo Sports story caught my eye.

It was a story about what Los Angeles Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp did following Sunday's 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

After being told by Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach of a disabled fan's plight, Kemp went over and talked to him.

What happened next is the latest Internet video to go viral.

Kemp first signed the fan's ball, and then gave him his cap, his jersey and his shoes.

The fan had Kemp's locker, and Kemp was left shoeless walking back to the Dodgers clubhouse at AT&T Park.

What got me about the story was not so much Kemp making this fan's day. It's the fact that no matter what our problems in life are, nothing can compare to the plight that some people in this world have.

It reminded me of a similar situation that I encountered, although it didn't leave me shoeless. I was 25 and working as the mascot of the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was January and we were on a winter caravan with some of the players. One of our visits was to the pediatric unit at University Medical Center on the campus of the University of Arizona.

At the time, I had never encountered anything like this before, the sight of a 4-year-old boy with cancer laying in a hospital bed - fighting for his life instead of being outside playing with his friends. The sight of the parents' faces, the anguish and the heartache of seeing their child suffer.

At the time I was more worried about trying to finish the visit up so I could make my world history class, where we had a quiz that counted for a large part of the overall grade. If I missed it, there was no way of making it up.

But then I saw this young boy lying in his hospital bed who was about the same age as one of my nieces. I went over to him, dressed in a snake costume, and shook his hand and gave him a high five.

The boy with IVs coming out of his arms and oxygen tube in his nose lit up with a huge smile and his eyes were filled with a light that probably hadn't been seen in a long time.

I was left speechless and changed forever.

By the time I got to my class, I had already missed the quiz and was stressing over my grade.

I told the professor the story and the reason why I was late and his response was something I'll never forget.

He said. "Don't worry about it. What you did today is more important then this class or this little quiz."

Seeing what Kemp did on Sunday reminds me and should remind all of us that no mater what our problems are in life, they are small compared to what some people face.

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