McGehee’s Family Understood The Risk

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 11, 2008

Willis McGaheeSAN ANTONIO, TEXAS— Give Miami’s Willis McGehee’s family a lot of credit for understanding what was at stake last Friday night. Give this young man credit as well. McGehee and his family took out an insurance policy in case of injury and if the young man never plays again, he will receive $2.5 million from the Lloyds of London insurance company. Now after Uncle Sam takes his $875,000 for taxes, McGehee could receive $1.625 million next January 3rd. However in all likelihood what will happen is that by next January, Miami might be back in the title hunt and McGehee will be a top NFL prospect where his signing bonus alone can cover the $20,000 loan his family took for the premium. That signing bonus would not only pay his family back but also set him and the immediate members up for life if invested wisely. What McGehee did is something that has been preached about on these pages for years. If African Americans are going to continue to believe that sports is the only way out of the ghetto, then they are going to have to become astute enough to realize that for them, college sports is a business venture; even if it is a high risked venture at best. For the most part African American families don’t understand the concept the McGehee’s employed. Now maybe that is because McGehee himself is a member of the Miami Hurricanes and that high profile program has access to such insurance companies as the London based firm. Maybe most Black families who have college athletes don’t have the means to take out a $20,000 loan off the bat but what about insuring that college player of the lifespan of his college career? Surely by the time everyone in the family unit pitches in their $20 a week a policy could be covered? Then again maybe this writer is just dreaming that most families understand the risks that are involved in college athletics.

For what is worth, African American families who want to look at their college athlete (or even high school athletes) as their meal ticket and savior from the ghetto god of poverty, then maybe it is time for them to start saving their pennies and cutting back on some things to insure their ‘investment’. The McGehee family did it right by having Willis insured for the game. They knew the risk of injury in a high profile game and banked on the fact that nothing would happen. Well something did and now because the family took out the policy, Willis McGehee will at least be able to have a good head start into adulthood if the need to cash the policy comes to pass. It would be nice if other families who are in this situation followed suit. The risk is too high not to.

A word about a response on a recent editorial: Sometimes writers scribe something that just irks a reader. Well as a columnist that is what I am supposed to do; make you, the reader, think Sometimes it is positive and other times it is thought provoking. And then there are those times that I put in the category of other. Well a recent e-mail that I received from a reader who resides in the Akron, Ohio area falls under that very category; other.

The author of this particular e-mail was responding to my open letter to LeBron James and my thoughts on this young man’s situation. The reader, for the most part, said I didn’t know what I was talking about as it pertained to James’ situation at home. As a matter of fact, let me quote this author’s words verbatim: “Irrespective of the reporting experience covering the NBA that Mr. Moore states, his ‘Open Letter’ does not have any relative accurate meaningful point concerning the life and times of Mr. LeBron James or his circumstance. It is quite obvious with his letter that he has no relationship with Mr. James that would preclude them from accepting his personal letters or advice.”

Now maybe I’m not the person James or his family wants to talk to but then again, maybe I am the very person he needs to talk to. Only the good Lord upstairs knows whom this young man will have in his inner circle. What I do know is this: a lot of times fans of sports do not have each and every bit of information about any one topic. I’m not saying I’m the guru of basketball because I’m not. Between pro sports, college sport and politics, I have barely enough time to devote the proper energies to each genre of writing when that time is required. Yet for almost twelve years now I have been doing the very mentoring that my open letter suggests for James. For twelve years I spent many a Saturday morning or day off from ‘work’ to talk with many aspiring kids locally in my community showing them that sports needs to be the catalyst to the desired goal if that talent is present and I have spent many an hour telling this athlete and his family that nothing is guaranteed out here in the ‘sports world’. Some have taken the advice given; others have shunned it just like this author thinks should be done.

Invariably what happens is that the athlete involved will make the right decision on his life; despite what any of us think or say. The ‘open letter’ wasn’t a sermonette that LaBron James needed to hear. It was one man’s opinion on a situation that has been witnessed in the dozen or so years of covering college and pro sports. We all have little sermonettes for individuals who we all believe can be something great. While none of us are indeed the “gifts of knowledge and wisdom”, nothing beats getting some advice from someone who has witnessed the pitfalls of others. That is what makes a truly good person even greater in these circumstances; being able to accept advice from just about any source.