12 April 2010

To remember the best and forget the worst only prolongs the pain

Last week, Matt James, a 6-8, 290 lb. St. Xavier (Cincinnati) High School senior and promising Notre Dame recruit, died when he fell over a fifth floor railing on a hotel balcony. James was in Panama City Beach, Florida, for spring break. Police say James was drunk.

According to an article about his funeral:
His coaches and teammates say he should be remembered for his hard work and loyalty, not the way he died.
It is no surprise that his coaches, teammates and family want to remember the good things about Matt James. But to remember the good things about James at the expense of the way he died only avoids the elephant in the room: A promising collegiate (and possibly even NFL) career was derailed in an instant because Matt James participated in underage drinking.

"Everyone does it" does not justify it. "Peer pressure" does not justify it. These are only hollow excuses. Matt James could have set a positive example, but he chose to set the worst example, and his family and friends are now paying the price for his choices.

There is nothing wrong with remembering James for his hard work and loyalty. These are admirable qualities. But remembering them at the expense of the way he died only seeks to bury the bad choices he made. Those bad choices should also be remembered, if only so that some other teenager somewhere down the road recalls the pain, and instead goes down a different path.

Please keep the James' family in your prayers.
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