The world lost a great man last week.  I didn’t know Rodney Thomas personally. I knew of him through the fan/player relationship that so many of us have with players on teams that we support. He was one of the best running backs in the history of Texas high school football.   He played for Texas A&M in the early nineties when I was a student there. By the accounts of those who knew him he was one of the most selfless, altruistic people to ever wear the maroon and white. Most of what I know about him I regretfully learned upon his passing.
Rodney died last week while taking a break from mowing his mother’s yard in Groveton, TX.  Rodney bought her the house with his first paycheck from the NFL, where he played for several seasons.  Websites and newspapers are overflowing with words of praise for Rodney. 
He was an altruist in the purest sense of the word–there was the time when he was seen putting money into a vending machine at Texas A&M after the machine had just dispensed a bunch of free products.  Or the time when he gave a watch that he was awarded at a bowl game to a family friend. And how Rodney was there, at the final moments of that friend’s life, holding his hand as he breathed his last breaths.
Or the time when he saw an older man mowing his yard with a push mower and offered to mow it for him. The man refused, saying that “a man mows his own yard.” So Rodney left and came back with a riding lawn mower for him.
Those who knew Rodney knew him as a person that preferred not to take credit for his acts, to downplay them. Unfortunately sometimes it is upon one’s passing that the great stories come out. I wish I could have known Rodney. And I wish I could have met his parents while he was still alive, so I could try to find out how Rodney had developed into such a person. Was he born with that amazing sense of altruism and honesty, or was it something that was taught to him?
When the world loses a person of this caliber, the world is a much lesser place. All we are left with is the great stories and lots of questions.
How can such a wonderful person have their life cut so short? Why does life work that way? How can I take Rodney’s example and impress upon my young son some of these qualities?

And, most importantly, who will pick up where Rodney left off, and show others the kindness and selflessness that he was known for? I will do my best to honor his legacy. If I can raise my son to be a fraction of the person that Rodney was, I can help make the world a better place.

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2 Responses to “”

  1. Kristine Kinsey Says:

    Great post. Great thoughts. I really like your writing, Clay – introspective and engaging at the same time.

    • Thank, kris. I appreciate it.
      On an unrelated note, I think Kevin and I are going to come to Knoxville the next time I come to Atlanta. Not sure when that will be, but it may be first half of 2015. We want to go to McKay’s and also check out civil war sites along the way.
      I will let you know.

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