The following is the latest post on Mickey Plyler's blog. Plyler updates his blog at least once every weekday and it can be found on TigerNet at http://www.tigernet.com/blogs/plyler/ or on the right side of the front page of TigerNet.
Great News From the Tiger Family
Yesterday I enjoyed one of the best Mondays I have experienced in quite some time and since most of it involved Clemson I thought it would be appropriate to share most of it with you in today’s blog.
As most of you know, last Thursday Clemson football commitment Jake Nicolopulos suffered a stroke. He has been a patient at the hospital in Anderson since the stroke and these first five days have been crucial to Jake’s future.
I had seen Jake play as a junior but had no other ties to him or his family except that he was a Tiger now and their family is now our family.
I received a phone call from a mutual friend on Friday informing me that Jake’s family was familiar with my son Ryan’s accident and his miracle recovery and they thought it was appropriate for me to reach out to their family in this time of need. Their voice mail boxes were full on Friday and Saturday so I decided to go see them unannounced yesterday.
I went to the hospital yesterday in an attempt to give the family some of the wisdom I had gained over the last 18 months with Ryan and his recovery.
But what ended up happening was I received much more than I could ever give.
What I found in the ICU waiting room, in the parking lot, in the lobby, in a special meeting room and in Jake’s actual hospital room gave me a renewed energy and a renewed hope. I met so many great people there. Family and friends opened up to me to share stories of this wonderful young man.
I found new friends in Ann Louise and Craig Nicolopulos, Jake’s mom and dad. I would have never known that they were praying for Ryan and our family and could have never been able to return those personal prayers until their lives were changed last Thursday. Jake’s mom and dad were already in a steady place despite the storm that surrounded them. They were at peace with God’s plan and had a pleasant glow about their situation.
Uncertainty still faces Jake and their family but they were in a place where they could handle anything because of their faith.
They made me feel welcomed and made a new friend yesterday through this grace that they already had but found strengthened through their adversity.
When I got a chance to see Jake I found a big, strong looking athlete that looked ready for the new challenges in his life. He is a great looking kid that was responsive despite being sedated. The best news was he was taken off of the ventilator yesterday afternoon!
The family also shared stories about how the Clemson family has reached out to them and how Dabo and defensive line coach Chris Rumph had been by earlier to offer anything the family needed.
Their family was grateful to everyone who has been there and to those who continue to pray.
But perhaps the most impressive thing I saw yesterday renewed my belief in young people. Jake’s friends told terrific stories about his kindness and that hit me hard but I was floored by the youngest visitor. Jake’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle and I were in a private room talking about things I had learned about dealing with the recovery of a neurological patient. I just wanted to tell them things I had learned about the long process and some of the challenges they would be facing with their son’s hard work ahead. There was a knock on the door and a six-foot five inch baby faced 16-year old walked in the room. It was a face I had seen before and I did not need to see his Clemson sweatshirt to know it was recent junior commitment Shaq Anthony.
C.J. Spiller is my new favorite Tiger football player but over the next 18 months Shaq has a chance to unseat the electrifying back. Shaq is a junior at Wren High School in Powdersville and the son of former Clemson lineman Vernie Anthony. His face looked to be about 12 but his frame looked to be about 25. There has never been a better example of a gentle giant as Shaq comforted the family.
Here I was in this room with five new friends who I had not met until an hour or so before. Shaq did not even know Jake well but played against him this year when Wren played Hanna and the two had met a time or two on unofficial visits at a Clemson home game. But here was this 16-year old kid who drove over by himself from Powdersville to help a family in need. A family that he did not know but he said that Jake was family because of the Clemson family.
Shaq stayed about 30 minutes and his visit ended when he asked to pray with the family. I have been moved by some rousing sermons and brought to the highest of emotions with some great prayers, but I have not heard a more appropriate prayer than what I got yesterday from a 16-year old kid.
I want to keep most of the conversation private with respect for both families but I told Shaq afterwards that knew his dad was a great football player because I saw him play in Death Valley. However, I had no idea he was the kind of father that could raise this kind of inspiring young man.
Over the next six years I am looking forward to seeing Shaq and Jake grow and watching the Clemson family embrace both of them the way I know they will. We take so much pride in the Clemson family but the family became a stronger unit with the addition of these two terrific young men.
I wanted to pass along another good news note. I also had a chance to visit Harold “Mac” McKeown yesterday and he looked good. Many of you know Mac from Mac’s Drive In in Clemson and some knew he had been in the hospital lately trying to recovery from a few health issues like dehydration and exhaustion. Mac was released from a rehab center at Thanksgiving but he was readmitted with a virus. Mac is back in an Anderson rehab center where he is working on physical therapy and occupational therapy in an attempt to come home on Christmas Day. His mind is 100% and he was looking forward to the Clemson basketball game tomorrow night and the upcoming bowl game.
Good news on these Tigers but prayers at needed so please add them to your prayer list in this holiday season.