by Gene Stallings, Sally Cook
MY HERO recommends this book to
As coach of the University of Alabama's powerhouse Crimson Tide football team, Gene Stallings encountered plenty of tough situations on the field. But in 1962, as a young protege and assistant under Alabama's legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, Stallings was handed one of the greatest challenges of his life: his newborn son, John Mark, was diagnosed with Down syndrome - a genetic condition that causes mental retardation - and a serious heart defect. Doctors said he probably wouldn't live to see his first birthday. At a time when many families were ashamed of having children who were "different," doctors and friends urged the Stallingses to institutionalize Johnny so he would not be a burden. But for Gene Stallings, putting Johnny in an institution was just not an option: Johnny would always be part of the family, no matter what. And despite the doctors' predictions, Johnny - now thirty-five - leads a full life with his family and friends. Wherever Stallings coached - at Texas A&M, with the Dallas Cowboys, or with the St. Louis and Phoenix Cardinals - Johnny was an integral part of the team, whether chatting with the linebackers in the locker room or cheering them on from the sidelines. When Stallings took over as head coach for Alabama, the Crimson Tide took Johnny to heart, and he has become a familiar figure to the legions of Alabama fans. As a coach, Stallings always lived for the next game, the next season, and the season after that. But Johnny's precarious health has taught Stallings to appreciate every day they have together, and to reach out to other families with disabled children.
Add your comments