Earlier this month, I had the honor to return as a motivator and chaplain during the XXXI Olympiad outreach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2012, I was on location for opening ceremonies of the Olympics in London, England but this time I was there for last eleven days and flew home after closing ceremonies. What an experience to visit beautiful Brazil! We had the chance to connect with Olympic gold medalists, silver medalists and bronze medalists. Scores more who didn’t medal but winners the same just for competing.
Part of our team included a Guinness Record Holder in basketball who can spin 12 basketballs at once! He also holds the record for spinning a basketball for 23 consecutive hours! Bruce and his family recently performed at half-time of Game Six of the NBA Finals! You know they have a gift when LeBron and Steph Curry watch you at half-time! We also had a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader in addition to my buddy, Randy Shepherd who hosts the annual ACC All Star Basketball Game in North Carolina and he personally has played basketball and been a friend of Michael Jordan since they were 16 years old! Check out Randy below with USA gold medalist Carmelo Anthony right after winning gold!
It was my honor to be in the arena when the USA Women’s Basketball won gold. The National Anthem for me never gets old and to see them adorned with gold medals was icing on the cake. We had opportunity to meet and connect with Olympians of over two dozen countries. Super connecting with “Olympian of the Century” Carl Lewis, nine time gold medalist on TEAM USA. Carl and I have done several events together and he is first class. It was icing to my cake to reunite with my dear friend, Joe DeLoach also a past gold medalist from Team USA Track & Field. Joe and I had opportunity to do two events while in Rio together and he is second to none both personally and professionally. He beat Carl Lewis in 200M relay in 1988 in Korea. This picture below is Joe and I holding two Olympic gold medals.
What a treat to connect with professional and the powerful but one of my highlights was investing in some of the poorest of the poor communities. We were invited into the most dangerous and destitute area of Rio. I witnessed five year old kids climbing out of a dumpster looking for food and it broke my heart. We were able to give them food, hope and did a free outreach event in their community. We even encountered a drug lord equipped with an AK-47 and pistol on his hip. With the help of a a Portuguese translator was able to speak life into him. We shared in love that there is a HIGH COST to low living and encouraged him to live legit. I am no Eagle Scout but I was taught early on to leave a community better than we found it and that has been our goal ever since.
Fortunately the Olympics went smoothly with little security issues. However, they did have some highs and lows and in sports you will always have “the agony of defeat.” Some of life’s greatest loses are not in the arena but outside the games. Sports can teach us many great nuggets and life has an uncanny way to educate us and sometimes humble us. Life lessons are around us daily if we are only willing to look and benefit from them. Some athletes were detained for fabricating a story to police. Regardless, if in athletics or business one can win professionally and be losing personally. We can medal by day and lose at night.
Last week while addressing a packed crowd in Maryland of students, staff and parents at a back to school assembly I shared “If you have the opportunity to buy an Infinity (car) or develop Integrity choose the latter. Why? Your personal character (INTEGRITY) will drive you further down the road of life long after the Infinity breaks down. The crowd erupted in applause.
Regardless if corporate executives, world champions or students from a public school I encourage all and remind myself daily do everything with excellence and chase the eternal not temporal. Aim for the things that last like faith, friends and family. Show me your friends and I will show your future! As my buddy, Ken says from Texas, “People make choices and CHOICES MAKE PEOPLE.” Great connecting with former NBA Coach Doug Collins in RIO. He played with Dr J back in the day with the ’76ers but coached Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards. Great guy!
It was a privilege to meet gold medalists from Great Britain rowing team and the silver medalists from New Zealand Rugby Team along with wrestlers from Azerbaijan and USA member of Rugby Team along with scores of others! Here are Randy, Olympian Gabriel from Zimbabwe and our leader, Dr. Sam Mings at an Olympic Outreach.
Since childhood, it was a dream of mine to see the Christ, The Redeemer statue on top of a mountain overlooking the beautiful Brazil beaches in Rio. Presently, it is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. With no apology, it was the one of our most stops while in town connecting with Olympians and fans from around the world. All of us have stumbled, fumbled and crumbled. We have all dropped the ball, miss the mark and fell short of others expectations and our own but what is magnificent of that iconic statue reminds us that Christ is willing to forgive, dust us off, whisper victory in our ears, wrap His arms around us and give us hope to not only live again but WIN again. Yes, character is greater than gold and chase the eternal not temporal.