Friday, November 11, 2005

I hate to open on a sad note but I received the news yesterday that former Pittsburgh Steeler Steve Courson, a man I liked and admired, was killed in a tree-cutting accident at his home in Pennsylvania.
Steve earned two Super Bowl rings as a star offensive guard with the Steelers, fought--and beat-- severe health problems brought on, he was convinced, by steroid use (before they were banned), and became an expert and nationally-known opponent of steroids in sports.
I spent a day with Steve at a conference last September. After his presentation, which had the audience's complete attention and interest, the two of us took a walk together. Steve was looking forward to his 50th birthday in October--an especially big event for him considering that he was so close to death just a few years before, on a waiting list then for a heart transplant, weighing 325 and consuming huge quantities of doughnuts, sodas and fast-food in his frustration at having been unfairly labled in the media as a poster boy for steroid abuse and thereby bringing his health problems on himself.
Now, just weeks before turning 50, he was the picture of health: a tall, lean, muscular, rock-hard and chisled 250 lbs., brimming with energy and enthusiasm. He had done it with diet, exercise and, most importantly, willpower and belief, ultimately confounding doctors who took him off the transplant waiting list as he trained himself back to pre-illness levels of performance and largely reversed the atrophy of his heart muscle. As we walked he shared with me his belief that a strong will could accomplish anything. "It's really easy", he said and truly believed: "Just make up your mind and you can do it!"
Steve was a gifted athlete and outstanding motivational speaker, who spent a lot of time working with young people telling them his cautionary experiences with steroids. He appeared at many events at his own expense, just to share the story he believed he should tell and giving back something to inspire others in their personal struggles.
He was a fine man and I was privileged to know him. I believe his words and example to many of us will have a ripple effect in many lives, and that is a great legacy for anyone to leave behind.


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