What’s red, flies, and has its own private half pipe in an undisclosed location — compliments of Red Bulll?
The answer: Shaun White.
When “The Flying Tomato” burst onto the worldwide scene during the Torino Winter Olympics, the average television viewer was receiving their first introduction to what the avid “X” games fan had known for quite some time.
A pale-skinned kid from Southern California with flowing red hair (that any woman, or man for that matter, would die for) was about to take the global athletic community by storm. In time, this 20-something that had spent most of his life “messing around” on skateboards and snowboards would rack up a gorgeous home in San Diego, a Lamborghini and much, much more. Awards flowed as freely as his famous mane. Some even being stored in his unused fireplace.
But his path to golden success didn’t come paved via a yellowbrick road. From a humble middle-class beginning, his family of five traveled in a van that they all slept in when attending Shaun’s performances and events. Before even that, baby Shaun’s heart wasn’t functioning properly and his place here are earth was at the least tentative.
A horrid crash into a fellow skateboarder at the age of 11 left Shaun with a fractured skull and broken bones. And a fearful, post-impact attitude. But his mother placed her son repeatedly back on the proverbial horse. A questionable decision that would in the end result in giving the world the current Lord of the Board.
As amiable and well-loved as Shaun is these days, those around him find themselves at a bit of a distance. I mean really; how many of his peers in competition can claim their own luxury import? Or, their own personal, secret training area for that matter? Shaun gets it: “After we’ve competed, do I really want to hang out with you while you polish your medal?” he admits. I think not.
Success is something we all strive for and dream about. It’s what drives us to get up in the morning and keeps us moving forward. But how many folks truly fail to miss or understand what lies on the other side. Fame and fortune require sacrifice to obtain. And, in truth, for those who win the prize, it also comes with a price. Friends along the way that never quite reached their hopes and dreams are left in the dust so to speak. While you may be ready to hop a private jet to that tropical get-a-way, they still may be just trying to make the rent this month.
Getting to the top, can be awkward. A reality we tend to forget. Perhaps there’s something to be said for that line in the Country song that says, “…sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand.”
And too, maybe it’s just one of those moments when the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for” makes a little more sense. At least, for those that have been fortunate enough to catch the brass ring.
Just my thoughts.
Click here for Shaun’s interview on 60 Minutes