Some Excitement, Some Frustration, But Mostly, Some Perspective

We made it! Sorta.

We’ve waited over three months since we last saw our beloved Nittany Lions walk off victorious in Rose Bowl Stadium, and the time has come to crank this offseason hype up another notch at the annual Blue-White Game. I don’t know about y’all, but I am AMPED.

Sure, it’s a scrimmage. But there’s still a tailgate. It’s still a football Saturday in Happy Valley. There’s still more hoopla over the weekend’s events than any given Saturday in the fall at a handful of the other Big Ten schools. Life is still gonna be so, so good all weekend long. As the artist formerly known as Ke$ha once said, “Ain’t got a care in the world, but got plenty of beer.” I can’t wait.

After last week’s events, I need the seratonin and the sunshine more than ever. You may have caught my diary entry that I penned on Tuesday about how I’m completely lost in my work life and mentally hurting because of it. 2023 has been trying me, but that was a particularly rough day. It’ll be fine though. I have hope. And I might even have something exciting happening soon…

But just when I thought I’d gotten as low as I would get that week, my mom FaceTimed me in tears the next day.

Some of you might know, but most of you probably don’t — not long after my 13-year-old brother Kobe was born (our little surprise child), he was diagnosed with an extremely rare, life-threatening liver condition called biliary atresia. Basically, he was born with faulty bile ducts, so bile is not able to drain from his liver, and it builds up, which can lead to cirrhosis. The damage it can cause is infinitely worse than what you did to your liver last weekend. Poor kid’s never even had the pleasure of tasting tequila and he’s had to deal with this.

When Kobe was six weeks old, he had a life-saving procedure done called a Kasai that connected his small intestine straight to his liver in order to re-establish bile flow. While this procedure did save his life at the time, it is not a cure, it’s a temporary fix. My mother lives in fear every day that it will begin to fail, and that he will need a liver transplant. Other than one hiccup a couple months later, he’s been fine ever since. We’ve been extremely lucky.

Until my mom FaceTimed me crying on Wednesday.

In summary, Kobe had been sick for a few days, and his eyes had started getting jaundiced. This hadn’t happened in 13 years, so he got some tests done. She’d just received his bloodwork results. Things were not good. For the first time since his infancy, we were scared for his life.

My job no longer mattered. Nothing else did.


Because of his condition, sports have been an interesting area to navigate. We assumed he’d never be able to play anything too physical, much less football, but he has dabbled in both tackle and flag in his young career. Recently, former PSU tight end Adam Breneman’s dad, Brian, asked my dad to see some film on Kobe. He was impressed, telling him, “You can’t teach that.” As Deion Sanders once said about former PSU safety Troy Apke, “He can RUN run!” The kid’s got skills and a D1 bloodline to boot.

It seems these days that young athletes are getting scholarship offers earlier and earlier, and as a member of the class of 2028, we’ll probably start seeing kids Kobe’s age start popping up in our recruiting news any day now. Maybe, that will be something that concerns Kobe one day. Maybe him, his lunch pail, and his hard hat will be the next members of LBU. I’d love that, of course. But a few days ago, he looked my mom in the eyes and asked her, “Am I gonna die?” It broke my heart into a million pieces in a way that a Penn State football loss never could.

Thankfully, Kobe’s health began steadily improving, and he was able to return from the hospital on Sunday. It was the best Easter gift I could’ve imagined. I squeezed him a little tighter than usual when he walked through the door, which is saying something, because I hug notably hard, to the pretend-dismay of my skinny mother. I’ve never felt such relief.

I’m feeling incredibly blessed that this week, my brain can refocus on my upcoming trip to Happy Valley and trying to pave a new career path. This weekend is going to be a blast, and hey, maybe I’ll even find a new job while I’m up there. I can’t wait to practice screaming my head off for one of the most exciting PSU football seasons in recent memory. But even if this fall doesn’t go my way, I’m glad I can spend it with my Kobe.


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