Courage: Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
On Tuesday evening I had the honor of celebrating a man who throughout his life has battled adversity both on the football field and off all while exemplifying courage.
Family and friends gathered at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to celebrate the 44th Birthday of the Baltimore Ravens Senior Advisor to Player Development O.J. Brigance. As many know Brigance, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) six years ago remains an integral figure to many of the players who wear the purple and black.
Retired Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, general manager Ozzie Newsome, Ray Rice, Marshal Yanda, Sam Koch and Morgan Cox and even Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were all on hand to celebrate with O.J. on his special night.
Koch, Yanda, and Cox
In 2008, Brigance and his beautiful wife Chandra created the Brigance Brigade Foundation. The mission of the Brigance Brigade Foundation is to engage, encourage and empower people living with ALS to live life through the provision of much needed equipment, resource guidance and support services as well as funding ALS research initiatives.
“The driving force behind us giving back to the community can be summed up in one scripture,” Brigance said through his computerized speaking device. “Luke 12:35-48 – To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked. We have been blessed to have had all our needs and our provisions met so we must give blessings to others. We have a unique platform to make a difference.”
A special announcement was made midway through the evening about the release of O.J.’s new book, “Strength of a Champion: Finding Faith and Fortitude Through Adversity,” which will be released on October 22. The book was co-authored by Brigance and Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager along with a foreword from Ray Lewis.
“My book, ‘Strength of a Champion,’ is a book of inspiration to encourage people to know that we can overcome any adversity or obstacle that may come our way,” Brigance said.
Earlier this year Brigance received the “Touchdowner of the Year Award,” which honors an individual for extraordinary contributions and outstanding achievements reflecting honor and sportsmanship to football over a lengthy period of time, from the Touchdown Club in his hometown of Houston, Texas.
“I was blown away to receive the Touchdowner of the year Award,” Brigance said. “To have my athletic career recognized with some of the all time greats of football was humbling and I will treasure that honor for the rest of my life and will attributed to all of my family and coaches who supported me in this journey.”
The evening belonged to O.J. and it was a huge honor to be a part of the celebration for a man who is a true inspiration to many people including myself. His smiles said it all on Tuesday night. For a man who has been challenged by many things in life, O.J. Brigance truly defines the word Courage.
For more information on how you can help O.J. and his Brigance Brigade please visit the following link: http://www.brigancebrigade.org/
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