NFL MVP Cam Newton Surprises 10 Year-Old Heart Patient Taylor Deckard with Hospital Visit

Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old Taylor Deckard during surprise visit before heart surgery (photo via charlotteobserver.com)

Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old heart patient Taylor Austin Deckard during surprise visit before high-risk medical procedure (photo via charlotteobserver.com)

article via blackamericaweb.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — There’s no doubt Cam Newton has a soft spot in his heart for kids.

That was never more evident than this week when the Panthers quarterback surprised a 10-year-old Taylor Austin Deckard, a boy who suffers from advanced pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that requires a high-risk medical procedure to save his life.

The league’s reigning league MVP visited Deckard in an Atlanta children’s hospital Tuesday. Taylor was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time.

When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of bed and hugged him. During the long embrace, Newton said, “I feel your heart. It’s going 1,000 miles an hour.”

Newton appeared touched by the moment in the video posted by Auburn. He twice said, “Aw, man.”

Taylor initially pouted after his parents told him to turn off his tablet. Then Newton walked in saying, “What’s going on buddy?”

Newton spoke about the encounter at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked into the boy’s hospital room.

“I read a lot of things about him and what he likes,” Newton said. “Then when I go in there he hugs me. And it’s the parent touch. You can’t explain it. You can’t really explain it. My heart falls for a child in any situation. I was just there to comfort him. It was something that happened naturally.”

Newton described the boy as full of joy and full of energy, which made him sad to know that he’s battling a heart problem.

Newton said he was blown away by the strength of the boy’s family, most notably his father Timothy.

“You have a strong man who will not let his son see him bat an eye,” Newton said. “He has all the right words to say and all the comfort to give. And the mom is just as strong as he is and they are just there for him. And it inspires me because I have kids. … When (Taylor) looked at his dad and he looked at his mom, he just knew everything was going to be all right.”

To read more, go to: https://blackamericaweb.com/2016/12/28/cam-newton-scores-with-visit-to-boy-battling-heart-condition/

Antoine Fuqua and LeBron James Make Deal with HBO for Multi-Part Muhammad Ali Documentary

Muhammad Ali Documentary Coming to HBO

Muhammad Ali (PETER BROOKER/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

The “Greatest of All Time” is getting the HBO treatment.  The cabler is partnering with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and LeBron James for a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali.

The as yet-untitled documentary, which will explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, has started production. It hails from James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. No air date has been set.

“Muhammad Ali is indisputably one of the most iconic and distinctive figures in the history of world sports,” said Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax. “His impact resonates far beyond the boxing ring and is woven deep into the cultural and social tapestry of the second half of the 20th century. From the moment LeBron James told us of his deep visceral connection to Ali’s life and legacy, we were committed to helping him realize this film, and our enthusiasm has only grown as Antoine Fuqua has developed his compelling cinematic vision for telling one man’s incredible journey.”

Said Fuqua, “Muhammad Ali meant many things to many people, and he is someone who had a deep impact on me from an early age. Being given the opportunity to tell his story, both inside and outside of the ring, is a privilege, and a dream come true.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/hbo-muhammad-ali-documentary-hbo-lebron-james-antoine-fuqua-1201939411/

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson Wins Heisman Trophy; Youngest Player Ever to Earn Award

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is the first Heisman Trophy winner from his university.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is the first Heisman Trophy winner from his university. (photo via cnn.com)

article by Jill Martin and Steve Almasy via cnn.com

Lamar Jackson, a sophomore quarterback at the University of Louisville, has won the Heisman Trophy, given to the most outstanding player in college football.  Jackson, who amassed 4,928 yards of total offense and 51 total touchdowns, is youngest player ever and the first player from Louisville to win the Heisman.

Wearing a school-color red coat with a black lapel, Jackson seemed a bit overwhelmed by winning.

“Oh my God,” he said several times.  Among those he thanked were his teammates, saying the award was for all of them.  “I can’t wait to treasure this moment with all of you,” he said. “I love you guys.”

Jackson told reporters he had a speech written but thanked his fellow players, coaches and mom from his heart.  “For some reason when they called my name my chest started pumping and heart started racing real hard,” he said.

Jackson is the first player in major college football history with at least 3,300 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in a season.  He was second in the nation in points responsible per game (25.7).  “The improvement Lamar has made since coming to Louisville has been amazing,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “It’s all because of his dedication and hard work.”

To read more, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/10/sport/heisman-trophy/

TCU Safety Caylin Moore Earns Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship (VIDEO)

Texas Christian University senior Caylin Moore (photo via foxsports.com)

article by Sam Gardner via foxsports.com

Caylin Moore sat in the rare books room at the Los Angeles Public Library on Saturday evening, his heart beating out of his chiseled chest, awaiting the news that could change his life forever.

Earlier that afternoon, Moore, a senior safety on the Texas Christian University football team, had interviewed for a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the world’s most prestigious academic honors. He was one of 14 finalists competing for two awards in District 16, which covers Southern California, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.  The winners — and 30 more honorees from the country’s 15 other districts — would go on to study for two years at Oxford University in England.

And while Moore, a 2011 Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds honoree, 2014 Fulbright Summer Institute Scholarship awardee and recent Rangel Scholarship recipient, felt optimistic about his chances, the rest of the room felt at least as good about theirs.“While everyone else is talking and bragging about what they had done, I just sat there quietly,” Moore told FOX Sports this week, recalling the tense three-hour wait between the end of his grueling interview and the announcement of the winners.

“And when they’d ask questions to compare themselves to me, I would just kind of keep it short because I didn’t feel it necessary to do that.“I think half the people that were there, they kind of slept on me,” Moore continued. “They didn’t see me as a threat. They probably just thought I was there for charity.”

If such misguided suspicions did exist among the other finalists, one could understand why.

A child of poverty, Moore is the second of three children, raised in a single-parent home in a gang-ridden neighborhood of Carson, California, and for parts of his life he shared a bed with his mother, Calynn, his big sister, Mi-Calynn, and his younger brother, Chase. His father, Louis Moore, was abusive, Moore’s mother says, both before and after she left him in 2000, when Caylin was 6.

Nine years later, Moore’s dad was arrested for the murder of his then-girlfriend, and in 2012, he was convicted and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. But there’s far more to Moore’s story than simply using football to escape his own rough neighborhood and hard-luck circumstances. An economics major pursuing minors in mathematics and sociology, Moore carries a 3.9 grade point average and is on track to graduate in May.

While at Marist College, where he played quarterback for three seasons, Moore worked as a janitor. After transferring to TCU, Moore founded an outreach program called S.P.A.R.K. (Strong Players Are Reaching Kids), in which Moore and his Horned Frogs teammates visit elementary schools in disadvantaged Fort Worth neighborhoods, stressing the importance of education.

To read full article, go to: The remarkable journey of TCU’s Caylin Moore from poverty to Rhodes Scholar | FOX Sports

In Case You Missed It: Aretha Franklin Takes the “National Anthem” to Church at Detroit Lions Game

Aretha.  National Anthem.  The Piano.  That Voice.  Game Over.

Junior Olympian Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year

(photo via Sports Illustrated)

article by Rachaell Davis via essence.com

This week, young track and field stars Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard were announced as the recipients of the 2016 Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year award for their athletic accomplishments and unwavering dedication in the face of extreme hardships. ESSENCE caught up with the young track stars and their proud mother Tonia Handy for a quick chat just as they were preparing for the SI SportsKids of the Year announcement.

The girls first took an interest in track and field when their babysitter signed them up for a track meet in January of 2015. When the family fell on hard times and relocated to a homeless shelter that September, the encouraging spirit of those around them played a big role in helping to keep them going.

My coach really inspired me to try hard and to really put everything into it,” 9-year-old Brooke told ESSENCE. “Also, my babysitter Sharon Davis, who introduced us to track and field and really helped us work as hard as we could to get us where we are now.” Brooke also credits Olympic champion Alex Felix with inspiring her to push forward. “My inspiration is Alex Felix,” she adds. “She really inspires me to work really hard like her.”

To read full article, go to: Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year Essence.com

The Cowgirls of Color: Black Women’s Team is Bucking Rodeo Trends

Pinky, Pennie (in background) and KB calm their horses before riding in the grand entry. (Photograph: M Holden Warren)

article by Annalies Winny via theguardian.com

The Cowgirls of Color are frustrated. It’s the final stop of Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and the only all-female team has had a difficult first ride, making their chances at a victory very unlikely. “The whole point was to win, not just to be in [the event] because we’re girls,” says KB, a 39-year-old legal administrator who has been riding with the team for a year and a half.

In a sport dominated by white men, the all-female, all-black team is a rarity. At the Bill Pickett rodeo, the only black rodeo in the country, high-octane events such as bull riding and steer wrestling remain almost exclusively male. But every year brings more female contestants than the last.

Since the team formed two years ago, they have set out to prove that they’re more than just a novelty team – that they can beat their male-dominated competition in the most intense events and go on to win thousands of dollars in prize money.

When they first started riding as a team just two years ago, “we were terrible!” says KB. “But I wanted to master it. I wanted to compete on a larger scale where I [could] make money.”

Selina “Pennie” Brown, Sandra “Pinky” Dorsey, Kisha “KB” Bowles and Brittaney Logan met through a veteran horseman, Dr. Ray Charles Lockamy, at a riding event in Maryland. Despite being relatively new to the sport, they decided to form a women’s team to compete in the Bill Pickett rodeo, with Lockamy as their coach. Only Pinky had competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says.

Like most equestrian sports, rodeo has always been mostly white. Black cowboys competed in rodeos from the 1940s, but tales of corrupt scoring and judges literally turning their backs on black contestants proliferated for decades thereafter, stalling the growth of the sport among black riders. Black cowboys who entered rodeos “would be discriminated against in ways that were supposed to be subtle”, says Carolyn Carter, the general manager of the Bill Pickett rodeo. In 1968, the legendary bull rider Myrtis Dightman was advised to “turn white” if he wanted to claim the top prizes.

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