Channing Frye's Comeback Unusually Inspiring
Being sentimental and sensitive fits me about as well as a smedium Adidas Clima Cool shirt does on a hot day. (Picture an over-stuffed sausage in a drenched casing.)
While sitting at the Josh Groban concert Wednesday night at US Airways Center, my wife became emotional over numerous songs the dorky yet powerful crooner sang. I, on the other hand, sat there trying not to ruin her experience by making goofy looking faces -- tough when it’s my natural state -- or dancing in ways that made no sense to the beat. It’s not that I didn’t see the beauty in his vocals. It’s just that after years of working in sports and media I’ve become slightly callous, somewhat cynical and completely sarcastic. Regardless of the situation, I’m skeptical and looking for the best joke available to be made.
At the same time the Mrs. was bawling like a baby at the less athletic version of Michael Buble (another show I’ll be seeing with her this year), Channing Frye was balling like a man in the Suns' preseason game in Portland.
Channing stepped back on the court for the first time since April 21, 2012, putting on his new purple uniform to take on his former team, the Blazers. Or, to put it in perspective, the last time he played was 26 teammates and three head coaches ago. He answered the call by scoring seven points in his first six minutes on the court and finishing with 14 points overall.
Like I said, I don’t easily get emotional or inspired. I’m the Scrooge, or Scrooge McDuck if you prefer, of the Suns. That said, the former Wildcat big man has managed to actually warm the cockles -- refrain from snickering -- of my heart.
After over a year away from the game he loves due to a heart ailment that made it life threatening to even work out, Channing has made a miraculous comeback and done it with one of the best attitudes you’ll ever encounter in another human being.
Part of that is because the hiatus was a blessing in disguise. It gave him time to attend to family issues, including his daughter being born blind and the procedure it took to give her sight. It also afforded him the opportunity to spend quality time with his children, something that most professional athletes don’t get to do due to their team commitments. That doesn’t mean he didn’t struggle throughout the process.
For the last few months he had to endure constantly being asked questions about the future of his career. Questions that had to be both frustrating and depressing all at the same time thanks to the unknown. Now, every time someone asks him a question or he steps on a basketball court, he smiles larger than a kid seeing his first rated R film (by the way, the first rated R film Channing saw was Predator and yes, it made him smile ear to ear).
If you get the chance to be around him, he reminds you why you originally fell in love with sports. It’s that childlike awe and passion to have fun while winning that emanates from the Suns big man these days. The only reason we watch sports if for the thrill of competition and the potentially great joy that comes from victory.
Frye has fully embraced both. He realizes the enormity of the second chance he's been given and the fact that it comes on the team he rooted for as a child. He values every moment of it and plans on making the most of it. So far, so good.
He’s even managed to surprise and impress me. Which is a major compliment in and of itself.