Anderson's legacy transcends sports

by - Senior Writer -
Anderson played for the Tigers from 1984-87.

The passing of former Clemson quarterback Randy AndersonRandy Anderson
#1 6-5, 210
Cowpens, SC

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this week leaves a hole in many lives, not counting the obvious hole he leaves in the life of his wife Angelia and daughter and the rest of his family.

I was privileged and honored to know Randy, to go to church with him, play softball with him and get to know him on a personal level, and as I was trying to figure out what I could say about Randy and the impact he had on many lives – including mine – the answer came from Randy himself.

A friend of mine went over to Randy and Angelia’s house yesterday to get things prepared for the family to come home, and she found this posted in the kitchen:

"God wants to use you to make a difference in the world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived."

That is Randy in a very short and simplified version.

Anderson lost his struggle against cancer this past Tuesday at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. He was in Houston awaiting a stem cell transplant for the leukemia he was diagnosed with last year. Although a match was found, the transplant never occurred because of complications.

In 2005 he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, and two stem cell transplants were used at that time to treat the cancer.

He treated his battle against the disease the same way he treated everything in life – head on and with a smile. And it was that smile that captivated people and drew them to him…he was almost like a human magnet. And in being around Randy in several different social settings, it always amazed me at how many people didn’t even know Randy was a former Clemson quarterback….he was just Randy, the man with the quick smile, love in his heart and a healing touch for others.

A tremendous example of that is actually a personal experience, and one that I have thought of many times over the past few weeks as a friend struggled to hold on to that which he held so dear.

The church was preparing for a softball tournament down in Lexington, and Randy wanted to play. His athleticism and natural ability have never been questioned, and he was simply one of the best players I have ever played with or against.

He came out to a few practices…obviously weak but always up for a challenge…but it was after one of the practices that I remember most.

I went over and sat on the bleachers to take off my cleats and change into shoes to drive home when he walked by. He sat down, and we chatted briefly about new offensive coordinator Chad Morris and what effect he could potentially have on Clemson’s season. I told him that with his skill set, he would have been a monster in Morris’ system.
Randy smiled, got a far off look in his eyes as he pondered the possibilities, and then quickly returned himself to reality.

“I don’t know that I would want my life changed,” he told me. “Everything that has happened to me in my life has shaped me and prepared me to minister to people. I don’t have any regrets and wouldn’t change anything.”

That statement alone shows how Randy was able to transcend the sports that so many of us go crazy over to try and achieve a higher calling. He founded By His Stripes Ministry, a sports-themed Christian outreach program that allowed him to minister to people at every opportunity.

Following softball games that were knock-down, drag-out competitive, the two teams would gather at the center of the diamond, called together by Randy, who would then witness, pray over any requests that were made known. He would pointedly ignore the umpires’ pleas to leave the field, and it always amazed me at how many strong, rough men and boys would react to Randy and his grace and ask for prayer in the middle of a dusty, hot ball field.

Even after he left the field, players would approach him just to talk, and he was always quick with advice or a helping hand.

That was his gift.

I quickly turned our conversation to his treatments, but in true Randy fashion he turned it back on me, knowing that I have gone through some personal struggles of my own over the past two years. I told him that it seemed like things were finally taking a turn for the better.

He smiled, got up to leave, and gave me one final piece of advice.

“Just remember, David, to always do the right thing,” he said. “Because we only get this one chance to do it the right way.”

Randy made the most of his chance, and we are all going to miss him.

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