Sunday, March 6, 2011

3.7.11 Hero of the Day: Wes Leonard


Name: Wes Leonard
Age: deceased, was 16
Occupation: student, Fennville High School
Last Seen: in a morgue, sadly
Awarded For: being a hero to his small town


Miami has LeBron. Phoenix has Shaq.

Fennville had Wes.

Fennville, MI, pop. 1,500 obviously is too small to support a pro-sports team. But, the town loved its basketball team. This past year, its star player, Wes Leonard, eclipsed his 1,000th point in his career. He was also a star quarterback on his school's football team, but it was definitely basketball that was his forte.

Last Thursday, it was Leonard who scored the game-winning shot as his Fennville Blackhawks basketball team won the game, ending the season without a loss: 20-0. His teammates hoisted him into the air, and celebrated. However, shortly after he was put back on the ground, he collapsed.

Doctors and EMT workers did everything they could to revive Leonard, but to no avail. Just 20 minutes later, he was dead. Doctors found out that he had an enlarged heart, which might have been hereditary.

The playoffs begin Monday, but it will be beyond difficult without Leonard. Just imagine what the Rolling Stones would be without Mick Jagger, or if Pearl Jam didn't have Eddie Vedder.
Or maybe even Nirvana sans Kurt Cobain.

Now, there's massive differences between the smelly, hairy grunge king and the clean-cut Leonard. Cobain lived a full life at 27 while Leonard lived it in 16. Cobain died in early April 1994 while Leonard was born later that year in August. I was in Grand Blanc last weekend and was listening to 89X Detroit's Timewarp show, which features alt-rock from the 70's through the 90's. The show's host, "Christine", played two songs in a row that was so ironic to this situation. At that same time, I was Twittering, asking why so many good people die young while too many bad people die old.

Those two songs: Nirvana's Unplugged rendering of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?", and beforehand, "Mighty K.C." by For Squirrels, a band who lost most of their members in a bus accident shortly before the release of their first album.

True, Nirvana's members went on to better things, especially Dave Grohl, whose Foo Fighters are doing great with their latest single "Rope". But for the Blackhawks, it will be tough to win without their star. But if they win the rest of the season, Hollywood will be cranking out a couple of scripts.

The story of Leonard's death has purely touched the nation; even ESPN paid tribute to him on Sportscenter. It's proof that you don't need million-dollar contracts to bring people to the stands. It's talent.

Talent that will hugely be never seen again.


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