James Dungy, the 18 year old son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, was found dead in his apartment early Thursday, an apparent suicide.Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dungy family, and to all who knew the young man.
People in the public eye often appear to become caricatures of themselves, due to the influence of the media and our own needs as fans to think of them as something greater than ourselves. This view is of course a lie, forever and always. But then something like this happens, and suddenly, the lie is forced under the covers, and they are just folks like you and me. Suddenly, all the yammering about undefeated seasons lost, and questions about playing starters, is instantly rendered completely meaningless.
But they still aren’t like you and me, because unlike us, they have just lost the most precious thing a parent can lose, their own flesh and blood. They go from celebrated heroes in the spotlight to grieving, tortured parents.
And people like me, who never knew this young man, cry real tears over the Dungy family’s loss. And some of us write about it; not that it does any good for anybody but ourselves. Maybe that is worth something, though, if it forces us to examine our own lives for even 30 seconds.
I have a 17 year old son. His name? James. He’s fine today, thanks for asking.
Thursday was just three days until Christmas. Those of us with kids are busy wrapping their presents — or in my case still buying them — and excited about the ultimate kids holiday. The Dungy family is making funeral arrangements for their 18 year old son.
And, confronting the very real possibility that he took his own life. The very real possibility that he found something in his world so unbearable that he couldn’t face another day, and had to put an end to it.
This is the very definition of torture, for parents, and for siblings.
And so among my own Christmas prayers and wishes is this: that Tony Dungy, his wife, and the four remaining Dungy children can find some strength to get through not just this Christmas, but every Christmas for the rest of their lives. And despite the tragedy that just befell them, may they find something, someday, to celebrate about his life for the short time he was here on Earth.