Monday, June 19, 2006
The Feel-Good Story of the Week
In the world of elite athletics, there are more than a fair share of Asians who have risen to the top of their sports and gained worldwide recognition. In baseball, there's Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. In football, there's Hines Ward. And, of course, in women's golf, there's Michelle Wie, Se Ri Pak, and a host of South Korean women who seemingly are at the top of the leaderboard every single week.
However, I have to say that my new favorite Asian athlete is none other than Tadd Fujikawa.
What's that, you say? You've never heard of him? Well, pull up a chair and listen up, my friends.
Young Mr. Fujikawa is a 15-year-old Hawaiian high-school golfer who just recently became the youngest golfer to EVER qualify for the U.S Open. Unlike Michelle Wie (who, at 16, already has the physical stature to take on the world's top women golfers), Fujikawa is about 5 feet tall and weighs about 135 pounds soaking wet.
Although he missed the cut, Fujikawa charmed golf fans everywhere this week with his easy-going personality, his smile and his profound love of the game. However, the more interesting part of his story took place 15 years ago at the time of his birth.
You see, Tadd Fujikawa was born more than 3.5 months premature and, at his birth, weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces! He was given less than a 50% chance of surviving and spent most of his early days in the premature ward of his local hospital. To this day, he has always struggled with his size but has more than made up for his diminutive stature with a heart as big as the Pacific.
You can't be around the kid without noticing his enthusiasm and his enormous heart. In a world filled with jaded professional athletes, it's truly nice to see a young kid swing for the fences with an enormous smile on his face. At least for a week, Tadd brought some joy back into the world of professional sports and helped us remember what it was like to be young again.
So here's to you, Tadd Fujikawa! You're my feel-good story of the week.