Any of you remember that old Nike commercial featuring Charles Barkley? The one where he talks about not being a role model?
We'll go out on a limb and say that there's a good percentage of athletes who probably feel as Barkley once did, only they're afraid to admit it out of fear of losing some fans. They'll say the right things in front of a camera, but give them a chance to drop their guard and they'll tell you the same thing Sir Charles famously said in that commercial: "Why should we be the role models? We're not paid to be ones anyway."
Then, there's Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
The name "Tim Tebow" might still be unfamiliar with a lot of Filipinos, but rest assured, his anonymity won't last very long, if only for the simple fact that he's wired a different way than most athletes and he's deeply connected to the Philippines more than most people think - or know.
Back in 1987, his mother, Pamela Elaine, gave birth to tiny Tim at the Makati Medical Center despite having been advised by doctors to seriously consider having abortion after falling ill to amoebic dysentery. Undaunted by the perils of childbirth and steadfast in her Christian faith, Pamela decided to have the baby anyway. And thus, Tim Tebow was born.
When he was three years old, Tim and his family moved back to the US. But they all seemed to keep a part of their hearts in the Philippines. That's no more evident in the fact that Tim, despite already being one of the most famous and popular athletes in America, makes a concerted effort in coming back to the Philippines to do a variety of missionary work, including—get this—performing circumcision on young, underprivileged kids.
Tim's strong ties to the country even includes a partnership between his foundation—the Tim Tebow Foundation—and CURE International, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing medical care to children suffering from orthopedic conditions. The two organizations intend to build a 30-bed hospital in Davao for young, underprivileged Filipinos suffering from a multitude of problems.
So why should we care about Tim Tebow?
Filipino connections notwithstanding, Tim Tebow is the complete antithesis of the athletes that well all choose to blindly admire.
It's easy to paint a positive picture of an athlete that smiles for kids, does PSA commercials, and says all the right things in front of a camera. But it's one thing to do it as a chore; it's another thing to do it as a privilege. Talk about the constant adulation we give to someone like Kobe Bryant, a guy so many Filipinos worship yet was once accused of raping a teenager many years ago. Have we conveniently forgot that?
Every time he comes to Manila, he always arrives to a hero's welcome akin to a returning hoops conqueror for men, women, and children alike. Yeah, the same dude that admitted to live television of committing "adultery" on his wife. That's a role model to you?
This is what makes Tim Tebow such a unique personality, one that's devoid of any ego and pretenses while possessing a genuine enthusiasm and humility rarely seen in athletes these days.
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