Today's Love letter goes out to a surprising player. He's a career .608 OPS in the minor leagues. He was drafted by the Cubs in 2017, and played two seasons in their system. Unfortunately he wasn't quite MLB ready and was released. But it's not his on the field body of work that leads me to write a letter to Chris Singleton. It's what happened to him off the field.
Unfortunately, Chris lost his mother in this tragic shooting:
It happened in 2015, when Chris was a freshman at Charleston Southern University. I can only imagine how devastating that is. But even my imagination can't scratch the surface of what it must be like to have your mom killed by a radicalized racist. To have her taken for something so evil. I don't know how you come back from a loss like that. But Chris didn't give up.
From his website: "Chris Singleton is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization as well as an inspirational speaker who has traveled the country passionately speaking to over 35,000 students. Chris has also spread his message through various different media outlets and has been featured on ESPN’s E:60, Sports Illustrated magazine, CNN, and USA Today. His mother, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, was murdered along with eight other victims at Mother Emanuel AME church in Downtown Charleston, South Carolina on June 17th 2015 by a white male who wanted to start a race related war in the United States. Chris inspired his city and the nation by forgiving the man who murdered his mother and stating that “Love is stronger than hate.” Chris inspires his audiences through his personal experiences of adversity and his belief that God can guide you through any storm you will ever pass."
Wow. Chis talks about his tragedy often and publicly, while trying to push a message that few would have the ability to preach after having their mom taken from them in such an evil way. It's powerful stuff, and it deserves a lot more recognition than just a love letter. But for today, I'll take a first step, and a letter will do.
I'm so sorry about your mom. What a nightmare situation that I can't even begin to comprehend how that would alter your life. I don't have the words or the understanding on how you come back from that.
I'm very proud of you for continuing on with your baseball career after that. Baseball requires a ton of focus and mental strength, and I'm sure that with the weight of the tragedy, that was a tall task.
What I'm more proud of you for is your new career as a public speaker. In this age, it's very easy for people to be angry. We are a broken nation of elevated and warring parties and it's often justified to be nasty to each other over their opinions. Racism is alive, and your mother was a victim. After what happened to you, you had every right to be angry. Every right to drag your mother's murderer's name through the dirt. But that's not the path you chose. You chose the high road.
Rather than fight hate with hate, you've opted to take the more difficult path, by fighting hate with love. Rather than bury the pain, you look it in the eye and speak about it publicly to thousands. That requires strength and courage that's far superior than what is needed to play baseball professionally. I have no clue how you can do it. But you do, and do so on a regular basis.
I love your hashtag #cantletmomsdown. It's a mission statement that is simple, yet completely and perfectly a battle cry that encompasses your motives. I know she's looking down on you from heaven and proud of the man you've become.
While I wish I could have rooted for you at Wrigley, this new mission you've taken on is far more important than baseball. I'm glad that you've had the maturity to take it on now, because its a lesson that you'll now have decades to push forward. Stay strong in the years to come. You are in a unique place and have the ability to shine light into the valley of darkness.
Keep it up!