Monday, August 6, 2012

The Needles and the Damage Done

The death of De'Andre McCullough made the news all around the world:

He died in the Baltimore suburb of Woodlawn, out on the west side of town, of an apparent drug overdose.  De'Andre was the focus of the book "The Corner," about the drug-infested section of West Baltimore where he was born into squalor and began dealing drugs at an early age, eventually succumbing to drug use, and eventually succumbing to that.  You can't say that society is to blame for his wasted life and early death at 35; other people born to even worse circumstances make successes of their lives, if only by becoming productive citizens and members of the community.  But let's say that some people a little further up the road got a head start on the road of life, a boost that De'Andre did not get.

Up the road outside Philadelphia, the Eagles' Andy Reid raised his family in the sort of luxury that an NFL head coach's salary will provide.  And yet, four days after De'Andre McCullough bought it, Coach Reid awoke yesterday to news that his eldest son Garrett, 29, was dead in his dorm room at the Eagles' training camp in Lehigh, PA.

The cause of Garrett's death is, as yet, undetermined.  He had had big trouble with narcotics over the years.  He and his younger brother Britt  were arrested and put in jail in 2007 after their arrest on drug charges. Garrett went up twice on drug convictions, and had been to court-ordered rehab, but both Garrett and Britt had "by all accounts turned their lives around" according to the online article at CSN  Garrett was working with the team as an assistant when he passed.

It seems that when you get into that hard stuff, you are headed down a one-way path on which it's hard to turn the speeding car around.  De'Andre McCullough, born dirt poor but grown street-tough, hadn't the strength to reverse his course.  Garrett Reid's father will earn 5.5 million dollars this year to coach other men to play football, but all that money and public acclaim were not enough to keep his son out of the graveyard.

Court records say that  Garrett Reid told a judge in July 2007, "I liked being a drug dealer. (But) I don't want to die doing drugs. I don't want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD'd and just faded into oblivion."
I don't want him to fade into oblivion.  I want everyone to remember his story and do what we all can to make sure no one else repeats it.  Same for De'Andre McCullough. 

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