When LeBron James said “They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want ” in reference to all his haters rejoicing in his failure after losing in the NBA Finals, a lot people saw it as LeBron telling people “While you continue struggling to pay your mortgage, I will be on my yacht eating caviar and hanging out with Drake.”
LeBron could have phrased it better, but that does not take away from the fact that it is easy to think that pro athletes don’t have problems. We rarely see our idols as human beings who might have challenges their money and fame can’t solve. This has never been as truer than after reading Robert Horry’s letter to his daughter, who passed away from a rare genetic disorder.
The man who came to be known as “Big Shot Rob” and who has more rings than Michael Jordan was a key component of 7 NBA Championship team all the while knowing his daughter was living on borrowed time. It seems we only ever find out about athlete’s family issues if it coincides with a big game. Derek Fisher, Joe Jurevicius and most recently Mike Miller all had problems at home before they played in big games. The fact that Horry played almost every game of his 16 year career with that pressure speaks volumes about the level of focus and determination pro athletes need to be successful.
His daughter Ashlyn suffered from a rare and disabling genetic condition called 1p36 deletion syndrome that would take her life at 17. In his letter he talks about how his NBA career was a challenge because beyond the constant travelling to road games her condition necessitated that the family stay in Houston despite him also playing in Phoenix, LA and San Antonio. For Horry, every game after leaving the Rockets was a road game.
So the next time you see a story of privileged athletes, keep in mind that these are normal human beings who just happen to have a skill set that has granted them certain advantages. What it has not give them is immunity from life’s problems.
I also would petition whoever names diseases after people to consider renaming 1p36 deletion syndrome after Ashlyn Horry. Like I said, his fame and money could not cure her, but now that she has passed and we are aware of their story, I think his fame and money will bring more awareness and help find a cure.
And if they ever decide to make a movie about Robert Horry balancing a successful NBA career with a sick daughter, Will Smith would make the perfect Big Shot Rob.