We spend a lot of time around here discussing the foibles of professional athletes, whether they come on the field or off of it. A psychologist might say that we do it because it brings them down off the pedestal society affords these talented men because of how fast they run or high they jump. They might be right, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other ways to get a reminder that these are just human beings.
One of those ways comes via an excellent profile (video at the link) of Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware by ESPN's Michael Smith. Smith spoke to Ware about his struggles to start a family, a story that's going to be all too familiar to many viewers who have gone through the same kinds of hardships in their lives. The sadness of the story doesn't just serve to humanize Ware, but it also acts as a rebuke of the notion that all pro football players are thuggish cads who don't care about the "right" things in life.
Ware's wife Taniqua, his high school sweetheart, got pregnant shortly after the Cowboys made Ware the 11th overall pick of the 2005 draft, but miscarried before her first trimester was out. That's horrible, but the Wares tried again and Taniqua got pregnant again. At five months, though, doctors discovered the fetus was developing without kidneys. The pregancy had to be terminated and Taniqua gave birth to a stillborn baby boy the couple named Omar.
Ware used the son he never met as inspiration while preparing for the next season.
"I knew now that I have a little angel in my life. Omar. He's driving me, he's pushing me even more. When I felt tired, I said 'Omar, if he had one more breath what would he do?' He'd be living right now, so get your butt up."
Sadly, the story doesn't take a happy turn just yet. A third pregnancy ended when the fetus's heart inexplicably stopped beating five months into the pregnancy. They had to deliver a second stillborn child, one day before they got a phone call from a pastor who knew an expectant mother who wanted to give her child up for adoption. On February 29, 2008, they became the adoptive parents of a little girl named Marley, a happy ending to a very sad story.
"From day one, when we seen Marley it was like that's my baby," Ware said. "And then, the first time I changed a pamper I knew I was in trouble. Poop everywhere."
The whole video's worth watching, but the summary alone should assure that f there were actually any Cowboys fans still looking for a reason to root for Ware, they just got it.