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The Man Who Made Me A Champion

I was sitting down to dinner at my sister’s new house in Atlanta, Tuesday, June 2nd when I answered my mom's facetime to her crying my name, “Cortney,” and I knew that what would follow was going to shatter my heart. “Kenny Rhoden died,” and I sank to the floor. I wouldn’t uncover my face full of tears to see my mom’s during the rest of her being on the phone. I couldn’t. I couldn’t look at her pain nor could I allow her to see mine. I sunk into my childhood and recalled the man, a true man, and his powerful presence in my life. My heart splitting into pieces thinking of the family he cherished, the family he left behind, physically. How they must all feel so totally lost at this very moment.

He was my best friend’s Dad. He felt like mine too. He loved me like I was one of his own, and I knew that. A father's love. Something I needed, and he - knew that. His daughter, Natalie, Nat, and I joined forces when we were eight years old and didn’t part until high school graduation. We spent everyday of our summers together playing softball, basketball, volleyball.

Kenny was our coach. We were the Martinsville Angels. I still remember the cheer.