Up till now in my own personal journey, I’ve shared that my PTSD crash came abt partially from the loss of 3 dear friends, unexpectedly, all w/in a short time frame. Bc of the pain from each, I haven’t talked much abt those friends. It’s time to start opening up.
The first to pass was my buddy Scott “Bubba” Pollock. Right out of college, I decided to join a volunteer group: “The Junior Committee for the Hospital For Special Surgery.” Our role was to spend time w children who had musculoskeletal deformities & to coordinate fundraisers on their behalf so that they could afford to go to a summer camp out in LI w that catered their special needs.
The first time I met Bubba, our committee was brought to the camp to meet some of the campers & get a tour. “Randomly,” tho it was anything but, I was paired up with Scott. Born w no arms, & underdeveloped legs, this 16yr old had the charisma of a gospel preacher. He moved himself around on a motorized wheelchair, controlled by his foot alone. He took me to the camp b-ball courts & showed me how he learned to dribble a b-ball w his feet, hold the ball up to his chin, drop it down back to his foot, & kick it in the hoop. He was def the athlete of the camp.
When it came time for campers to go on-stage & intro themselves, not surprisingly, Bubba stole the show w his comedy act. He was special…& prob the first person I’d ever met who taught me – we can overcome any disabilities.
We shared a love for the NBA & the Knicks & so even after the summer, we became close friends & would talk often. We actually got pretty close…& I love his parents & sister.
Fast forward to January of the following yr, & Bubba’s dad asked if I’d come back to LI (I was living in NYC in a tiny apt w 4 guys to make ends meet) & pick up Bubba w his dad’s car & drive him into the city for a camp reunion at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Talk about trauma on the long list of others experienced…I was awoken at 6am the morning I was set to pick Bubba up, from a call from his dad, Scott Sr., fighting through tears to let me know that Bubba had passed away suddenly, early in the morning, from what they believed was an aneurism that’d made its way up to the carotid artery in his neck. My world was shattered in that moment.
The next few wks I went to Bubba’s wake, saw his lifeless body in the open casket, w his HS b-ball jersey on, & even his controllers from his favorite videos game systems he played, by his feet w which he played them. His dog, who was his best friend, was there & you could tell was heartbroken.
In the wks & months that followed, I went to every tribute I could for Bubba. His school, his camp, he was beloved by all. I set up s fundraiser at a comedy club in NYC in his honor so we could raise money to provide scholarships to his camp, in his name, for other deserving campers. Most importantly, as his mom said, he was an angel on earth whose impact will stay w those of us he touched, forever.
His motto in life was: Failure Is Not An Option. And I wear a bracelet w those words on it, often. My dream one day is to work w one of my sports team contacts & have a night dedicated to him & others w musculoskeletal deformities, & show highlights of his amazing but too-short-lived basketball career on the Jumbotron, to inspire others. One day, Bubba. Love you bud.