The passing of Lou Reed this past week made me think of my friend Bruce, who used to have a locker next to Lou Reed at Chelsea Piers. This in turn got me to thinking about my own brushes with famous people over the years.
I’m not really one to be ‘star struck’, and living and working in the general NYC area means that I often see famous people roaming around the city…and through my various business adventures I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of NFL players and other famous people.
Overall, I think I’m less entranced by the fame than I am the passion, the dedication, and stories behind the building of that fame (part of the reason I love biographies).
And of course I’m even more connected with those stories which have at least some background or connection to my own past and my own experiences (I’m listening to a biography about John D. Rockefeller who started in Cleveland and built much of his initial fortune from Western PA oil).
Here are just a few of the 'famous’ people I have a personal connection/interest in:
Patrick Monahan - Right now one of my favorite songs is This’ll be my year. Monahan is a bit older than me and I have not actually met him, but he comes from the same general area as I do (having strong connections to Fairview, PA – where both of my parents and much of my family are from). From the people I know who do know him, he remains a very down-to-earth 'regular’ guy.
Dietrich Jells - I will always remember competing against Dietrich in track. We, thankfully, didn’t do any of the same events so I didn’t go head-to-head with him…but he completely crushed everyone in each event he did. Of all the kids I competed with over the years he was by far the most athletic. It was fun to see him get a shot in the NFL, and it was also a bit humbling to see him struggle to excel at that level.
Marc Balucas - When we moved to Girard, Marc was already a superstar basketball player and uber popular. I had very little direct interaction with him (because I was a grade or two below him), but I do remember him actually being a pretty nice guy (especially compared to some of the other high school 'stars’ I knew). You hear about some people just being born with charisma, and Marc is probably the first person that I met who that had that. Looking back, it’s not a surprise at all that he could make a career out of acting.
Andrew Wurst and the Parker Middle School dance shooting - By the time this happened, I was living in North Carolina. Andrew is the little brother of someone from my grade, and so even though I didn’t know him directly (not sure if I ever actually met him when he was little) I felt a really personal sadness from this event. The teacher who was killed was also my 8th grade football coach (and, if I’m being totally honest I thought he was a horrible coach, but I think was probably a great man based on the details of his story).
This event as a whole was very devastating to many of my friends and family in the area. Sadly, this is also a case of being famous for all the wrong reasons…and is the one item on this list, that I absolutely wish didn’t exist.
Bob Sanders - Bob was a bit younger than me, so I didn’t really know him or pay attention to his achievements when he was growing up…but he did play for Cathedral Prep where my nephew was a student and my brother was a coach (I believe they overlapped, and connected with, Bob for at least a year or so). Regardless, I have been a huge fan of his since he made the pros.
Dan Swift - Though I probably haven’t talked with Dan for twenty plus years, I’ve known him since about the 4th or 5th grade. Even from an early age, Dan loved to fight (though we never fought, he was more than willing to scrap with anyone I had beef with if I asked him – I never did, but I remember having these conversations with him as kids). I remember fondly following his golden glove career from afar with much pride…and even though his pro MMA career has been a bit of a roller coaster, he’s still my favorite brawler out there.
Bruce Baumgartner - Growing up in Edinboro, Bruce was probably the biggest local celebrity we had. I remember meeting him a few times as a kid, and always being in awe of his size – he never seemed like someone I would want to have to wrestle! To this day, whenever the olympics are on, I think fondly of Bruce and how much he meant to the University and the local community (and still does btw).
So anyway - those are just a few of the 'famous’ people I have a vested interest in…because of their personal stories and how they’ve affected me throughout my life…what famous people do you follow?
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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