Sometimes life places us in situations to challenge and teach us valuable lessons about the real world. My name is Clyde “Clutch” Lawson, and I have experienced such challenges in my life. I’m sharing this story for the youth of today so they may benefit and learn from the things that happened to me. Those who are of a more “mature” age will probably relate to most of what I have to say; you may have had similar experiences in your life.
It all started when I was a junior in high school. I was a three-sport-super star back in the day and my fellow classmates nicknamed me “Clutch” because of my athletic prowess. I seemed to be the player who was always involved in key moments on the field or court. Articles appearing in the sports section of local and statewide newspapers were constantly mentioning my name in their write-ups, and touted “Clutch” Lawson as the hero of the team. The tag of five-star athlete started surfacing and college recruiters were in hot pursuit. My 6’4” 220-pound physique must have excited the college coaches just a bit.
All the hype was actually embarrassing because I was really a shy-quiet-humble kid who just loved playing sports. I happened to excel in the sports I played—God had truly blessed me with some remarkable physical skills. First, and foremost though, I was a team player. I felt my teammates should have been sharing the spotlight with me. They certainly deserved it as their efforts made me look good on many occasions. Unfortunately, the media attention was out of my control. All I ever wanted to do was play ball—any kind. I loved competing and having the opportunity to use my God-given talents to help the TEAM win.
Bob “Nerd” Williams was one of four-hundred junior classmates at Greenburg High School, so named for the small South Carolina town of Greenburg. Nerd was a good nickname for Bob because that’s what everyone in our class thought he was. His thick-black-frame glasses and the pocket-protector in his shirt were the culprits that led to us calling him Nerd. Add to that, Nerd was a small-framed kid, standing about 5’6” tall and weighing no more than a whopping 120 pounds.
To say Nerd was not very athletic would be stating the obvious. He struggled to keep pace in our physical education (PE) classes no matter what we were playing. When we picked sides for teams, Nerd was always the last one selected, and I was usually one of the first. I could sense Nerd’s pain as he stood alone waiting for one of the captains to call his name. I had never been in his position, but I sensed his pain. To put it bluntly, we were bullying him.
I finally came to my senses one day in PE class. I was one of the captains that day and my first selection was Nerd. His face lit up as if I had selected him to be on an Olympic basketball team. All the other boys gasped and started laughing about my selection. They started making snide comments about Nerd and then began chanting “Loser! Loser! Loser! Clutch picked a loser!”
I saw Nerd’s shoulders slump and his smile vanished as if the hand of worthlessness had slapped him for no good reason. The volley of insults hurt him deeply. Without hesitating, I shouted, “Knock it off guys! Let’s play some basketball. We’ll soon find out who the big losers are. Let’s take it to ‘em Bob! We can do this!”
In that moment, all my athletic successes in life seemed insignificant to me. I realized the true emotional pain that others suffer in a world where winning and being the best in athletics were more important than an individual’s worth or character. From that point forward, my compassion for others began to change. God may have blessed me with athletic talents, but He also blessed people like Bob with special intellectual talents also.
Well, Bob and I didn’t win the basketball game that day, but I learned a lot about myself. I took a stand against bullying, and in a small way, made a difference in the life of a fellow student. I did it not to seek glory, but because it was the right thing to do. For that, I am grateful because I experienced something more important than winning a silly basketball game—I found a new friend.
Bob and I went our separate ways after graduating, and as is often the case, we had little contact in the years that followed. He attended an Ivy League school and I went on to play college and professional baseball. When I retired, I started travelling around the country giving motivational speeches at high schools and universities. Many of my speeches recounted the story of that special day I stood up for Bob many years ago. I couldn’t help but smile each time I mentioned it as I remembered how happy Bob was to hear me call his name first that day.
I was in the middle of a speech at a high school in Maryland when I felt a sharp pain in my chest and collapsed on stage. The alert staff called 911 and an ambulance transported me to the local hospital. I obviously don’t remember anything that happened after I collapsed, but I do remember waking up in the intensive care unit the following day.
I was pretty much out of it when I heard a voice saying, “Wake up, Clutch. Clutch, open your eyes.”
Standing beside my bed was Dr. Bob “Nerd” Williams with a big smile on his face—the cardiologist who had saved my life the day before.
I thank God every day for placing someone like “Nerd” in my life. I now fully understand that as we go through life, what we do for others while seeking nothing in return are some of the best things we can ever do. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right because it may save your life one day many years later.
STOP THE BULLYING!
Blessings to all,
Tom Tatum – Author – 2017
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum
Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels