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I cried this evening because of Aaron Smith.
Smith played defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers – played it well, one of their best at that position and they have had good ones – played it long, for over 12 seasons.
Late last week, the Steelers placed Aaron Smith on the injured reserve list, ending his year before the season ended for the third time in a row. A neck injury caused this move. Many speculated that it would end not only the 2011 season, but Smith’s career.
Today I learned the truth of that thinking.
Aaron Smith’s career has come to an end. In the words of Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer:
I’m guessing a lot of other Steelers felt like crying when they heard that Smith was done at 35 after 12 1/2 NFL seasons. Team neurosurgeon Joe Maroon examined Smith and couldn’t promise him that he wouldn’t have a catastrophic neck injury if he played again. Instead, Smith will have surgery that will allow him to continue to lead a normal life.
The news of Smith’s retirement tugged at my heart, but the reminder of Smith’s personal life brought tears to my eyes.
In October 2008
, Smith’s son, Elijah, then 4, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia — a cancer of the white blood cells that has a high survival rate.
The Smith family went public when they realized they could help others in their situation. They have talked about Elijah’s illness and inspired blood drives. Elijah is doing well.
Aaron Smith’s forced retirement saddens me. His grace and courage and love elicits my tears.
See you along the Trail.