diversion is the opposite of the muck: a heartwarming story of staggering friendship


why do people do the good things they do?

This story by Bryan oops Cave Curtis on Grantland is why Grantland is Grantland: The Stokes Game tells the story of NBA player Maurice Stokes and his teammate and guardian Jack Twyman. If you don’t know the basic story, read it as a window into a wonderful account of when pro basketball players were really brothers; if you do know the story, read it as a wonderful refresher that will also tell you things you did not know.

Personally, this stuff has been familiar to me since I was a kid playing basketball, going to basketball camps, starting to follow the NBA, but I had forgotten how young Stokes and Twyman were:

When the Shooter decided to devote his life to caring for Stokes, he was 24 years old. "What am I going to do?" Twyman told a teammate. "I’m from Pittsburgh, he’s from Pittsburgh. He didn’t have any family here. I just did it."

Twenty-four years old! Making a decision to take care of a guy for the rest of his life, which he did faithfully. It is easy to sentimentalize the relationship between Twyman and Stokes, to gloss over the details of what it meant for Twyman to do this; heck, it is hard not to do that any time you try to tell a story like this.

Twenty-four years old! Making about $15,000 a year but dedicating your life to somehow, some way, taking care of a teammate.

Even if you know what Stokes said the first time he could communicate on a typewriter, this will make you stop and blink a bit:

As part of Stokes’s therapy, the hospital staff hung a sling near his bed. Stokes placed his left wrist in the sling, and it allowed him to suspend his hand above a nearby typewriter. Stokes typed his first sentence for Twyman. It was a difficult task and it took him about a week to complete. The sentence read: "How can I ever thank you for all you’ve done?"

Especially if you are tired of hearing about ARod, Tejada, Braun and the rest of that tawdry business, read the wonderful Cave Curtis piece.

Twenty-four years old!

Just last night I was speaking to the partner of a deceased friend. That friend had a few signature greetings, one of which was “did you make a difference today?” Twyman made a difference every day. Like my friend Charles, he’s an inspiration. Human, with faults, no doubt, like each of us.


Saints do walk among us.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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