One of the most gifted artists of all time, Whitney Houston, passed away this weekend.
I am such a huge sports fan that I actually can remember vividly where I was and how much it inspired me to try and make it to the pros.
Let me set the stage for you, I was in the seventh grade attending Columbus Traditional Academy Middle School on the Northside of Pittsburgh. I was 12 years of age.
I loved sports in my younger days. My father used to sit my brothers and I down and we would watch all sports, from track and field to boxing to basketball and football.
I distinctly remember sitting in my mom and dad’s room on the floor getting ready to watch what my dad said was two of the best pass rushers in the game: Lawerence Taylor, otherwise known as “LT,” and Bruce Smith, who would later be a teammate of mine.
My mom was sitting on the bed with my dad and said “Whitney is about to throw down on this song. Y’all be quiet so I can hear.” And that’s exactly what Whitney Houston did.
When the orchestra started the song and Houston, wearing an American themed sweat suit, started singing, her voice immediately took my imagination nine to 10 years ahead. I lost myself so much in her singing that I was no longer in my parents’ bedroom on the floor. Nope, I was on the sideline holding my helmet listening to Whitney Houston sing.
She finished, fighter jets flew over and I eventually made it back to my body in time enough for the game to start.
I think most people felt that her performance would never be duplicated. It became the gold standard of every artist who accepted the challenge of singing the Anthem at any major sporting event.
It’s funny because for years after, I’d always say: Good job but it wasn’t like Whitney. As time went on all these years later I figured when Mariah Carey gave it a try and she couldn’t match her that it was time to move on from anyone even coming close to singing like Houston, let alone better.
That Super Bowl and Whitney Houston certainly helped inspire me to work as hard as I could to make it to the NFL as I, too, wanted to stand on that sideline and listen to our National Anthem before playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
A sad passing but a fond memory of Whitney Houston.
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