Yes, my parents actually let me marry the guy who burned me. We were in high school and my future husband, John (the sweet guy he is), was cooking fried okra. The oil in the pan became too hot too fast. It went up in flames in a matter of seconds. I was standing back against the wall and could not get out of harm’s way quick enough. My right foot and leg caught on fire.
I hope my story encourages parents to always buckle up their kids regardless of the situation. You don’t want to feel the pain or grief I am going through. The sadness is overwhelming, even after a year.
Moving to D.C. and having to walk everywhere was a huge adjustment. My worries coming out centered around running out of data on my phone from using Google Maps, getting lost, or the blisters I might get on my feet from walking so much. What I should have been concerned with is my safety as a pedestrian.
As I write this with shaking hands, I know that shot that will haunt me for the rest of my life. But that’s OK. Because that shot also reminds me of my teammates, the importance of sticking together no matter what and the amazing feeling you get when you’re part of a team. It’s the same feeling I recognized in the faces of the U.S. women’s soccer team. And it’s a feeling that I hope every athlete – boy or girl – can experience.
If you're one of those parents who insists on yelling at the officials during your kid’s sporting event, let me start by saying, you’re right. OK? The kid probably did travel. That was a total strike. It was definitely icing. Obvious pass interference. But that doesn’t make up for all the ways we’re wrong.
Just because I’m fearless on the court doesn’t mean that I’m fearless in my everyday life. In fact, even something fun and seemingly harmless like a swimming pool can scare me. The truth is—I never learned to swim as a child. I may be able to score a career playoff high of 27 points for the Boston Celtics, but if you threw me into the ocean, I’d drown.
My favorite thing to do while walking by myself was listening to music. I love music. As a child, I was always singing and being scolded by my Aunt Joyce for humming at inappropriate times. But music is soothing to me; it makes me feel happy, playful and, at times, sad. Listening to music and walking seemed, to me, a harmless combination. Needless to say, I soon found out the danger of it.