Athletes in trouble, parents in pain

I wonder if this happens to men, too.

I wonder if they can report on stories without at some point filtering them through their perspective as parents.

I can’t help it.

When Patrick Kane said today that the worst part about his arrest a little more than a week ago, was his family seeing him in handcuffs, his voice caught in his throat. And my throat closed up.

Kane is the 20-year-old Blackhawks’ star accused, along with his cousin, of attacking a cab driver in Buffalo over what the driver initially claimed was a dispute over 20 cents in fare. We still haven’t heard Kane’s side of the story and he said Monday that he hopes we never will because that will mean charges were dropped.

Clearly, there is a big part of the story still missing because even alcohol does not explain why a multi-millionaire athlete whose behavior has never before been questioned, would suddenly beat someone up over 20 cents.  

But all I could think about as Kane answered his questions, was how his mother felt when reporters called her cell phone to ask about her son’s arrest, and her biggest problem before that was getting him to stop playing with his mouth guard.

I pictured the first time Kane faced his parents and told them his side of the story and no matter how innocent he thought he was, knowing how destroyed they were seeing their son in handcuffs.

When Kane looked into the cameras and spoke into the microphones and said, “My family didn’t raise me that way,” I had a feeling that’s what they told him.

I thought of Kane’s three younger sisters, who make scrapbooks and “Welcome Home” signs every time he comes back to Buffalo, who struck deals with him when they were little – “We’ll play hockey with you, if you play dolls with us” – and how they must have felt when they first heard the news about their big brother.

And I thought of his grandpa, who lives next door to his parents’ house and who played cards with his grandson and laughed and who told Patrick he “added a couple years to his life” just by what he accomplished.  

I wondered how many people in the Kane’s South Buffalo neighborhood conspicuously stopped talking when they saw Donna Kane in the produce section of the grocery store last week; and how many who thought nothing of coming to their house at all hours to ask for autographs and mementos of the local hero, now whispered and pointed at the house.

I thought about Kane working out at home last week because he didn’t want to go to the gym. And I wondered how you go from the top of the world to sitting up at night wondering how quickly your entire world can change.

I wondered how a parent deals with something like this and how you never stop worrying, even when they’re 20. Maybe especially when they’re 20.

And I wonder how I can ever report a story like this one and forget I’m one of them.  

3 Responses to “Athletes in trouble, parents in pain”

  1. Don

    An excellent point from a parents point of view. How true.

  2. Margie

    YESSS! Finally, Melissa, a story such as what I’ve been missing ever since you left the newspaper which shall be nameless. Thank you very much for going beyond the headlines and beneath the skin to the heart(s) of the story.

  3. Frank

    Melissa –
    The Mom always takes it hard. Dads do also, but the Mom’s it hurts all the way around. If the son is guilty, you wonder why? If innocent, you have to contend with those who feel sure, sure, there guilty. You cannot win. Always a tough call.



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