I knew Manny was a good man, a strong man, an amazing coach, a motivator, and friend to many. To truly see the measure of a man you only have to look at his family. I have had the honor the last couple weeks to see the way that Tina, Lexi, Skyler, and Tyler have handled the unexpected death of Manny. I have watched in awe as they, with love, grace, compassion, humility, and strength have opened their already large hearts to all of us, especially to the youngest among us, to the children, to my child who loves Manny even more than I realized.
After Manny died we didn’t know what we were going to do with the basketball team, he had been coaching. Not only had the team lost their coach but to most of these kids he was their hero. It didn’t take long for the Lopez boys to step up and say we want to coach dad’s team, we want to finish what our dad started. They wanted to make sure Manny’s Boys, as the team is now known, were okay that they would not only increase their basketball skill but that emotionally they were doing okay.
While most 18-year-old boys are out doing their own thing at college, with no thought to the kids they left behind, not these two boys they have continued to be a stabilizing force in the lives of our young boys who live in Lincoln City, even before Manny died. Now they have taken the term off college to coach. Instead of shutting down in their grief, they have stood up tall and proud taking on Manny’s basketball team. Their courage to face challenges and pain head on is not only humbling, it is teaching the boys on this basketball team, more than just skills. It is teaching them what honor, dedication, and love in action looks like.
How do you get men like that? I am not sure I have to ask Tina, because these two men are amazing. What I do know is that they were raised by two amazing parents who taught them the skills and life lessons that they are now teaching to my son. I am so very humbled by their selflessness and honored to be a parent of a young boy who calls himself “Little Lopez” because there is no better young men for my son to emulate than Skyler and Tyler. Thank you boys for stepping up, for the love, the compassion, the determination, for everything that you do for these boys. Please know that nothing goes unnoticed and that you are both lobed more than you can possibly imagine.(Love is intentional spelled wrong here. Skyler and Tyler know what it means.)
To Manny, while I know we can no longer see you I know you are here and I know you are filled with love beaming with pride,
To Tina, a woman of strength and dignity, may we all raise boys as loving as you have,
To Skyler and Tyler,
for raising men,
for being men
that my boys can look to
see what real strength, courage, determination, and love look like.