Dad, Here is what I never got the chance to tell you

To: Dad

From: Reggie Jagers III (As told to Lauren Brill)

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Dear Dad,

For a long time, I was hurting from your absence but deep down I always hoped someday we would repair our relationship.

Reggie Jagers II was known to be a good athlete.

We share the same name and for a long time, that gave me a chip on my shoulder. You were a very good local athlete, who played football and baseball and ran track. I wanted my shoes to be bigger than yours. I wanted to train harder and be better.

You were in and out of my life and I channeled that hurt into my athletic career.

After you introduced me to sports as a child at six years old, I started playing football in the local Cleveland youth league. You coached my team and encouraged me to pursue athletics. Back then our relationship was good and I saw you regularly.

At age 12, my brother and I moved to Solon, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, with my mom. She got remarried.

Dad, I have no idea why, but this was a turning point in our relationship, as you began to jump in and out of my life and slowly we saw less and less of you.

However, I didn’t let your inconsistency as a parent slow down my development as a person. While I continued football without you, my junior year I found track and field. One day I was working out in the weight room and I saw guys throwing discus. One of the guys on the football team competed, so I asked him about it.

He told me, “Reggie, you would probably wouldn’t be any good at track and field. You should probably stick to football.” I saw that as a challenge and I went out for track and field. The first time I tried discus I threw 140, which was farther than guys who had been doing it for four years. From there, I excelled at the sport – to say the least.

Reggie is among the top-ranked discus throwers in the world

Despite the fact that I was not highly recruited because I didn’t have a lot of experience, I received a college scholarship to Kent State University. I became a five-time All-American and ended my career the NCAA runner up, while also getting a degree in sports administration.  The Cleveland Sports Commission named me Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year. After college, I turned pro and I am consistently ranked among the top discus throwers in the world.

Now, I have my eyes set on becoming the first African-American to medal in the discus at the Olympic games.

I could make some serious history.

But even if I do, you won’t be here to witness it.

See, when I went to college that became another barrier in our relationship. I didn’t speak to you much at all. My focus was on competing, training and getting good grades.

When I would receive awards or appear in commercials for the school, your friends would tell you. Now and then you would call to tell me you heard how well I was doing in my athletic career but that’s about it.

When I turned pro and started training to represent the U.S., you saw me on TV and in the newspaper. Again, you reached out and called. At this point, it felt like you were gloating about my success even though in my mind you had no part of it.

I felt angry and annoyed.

My feelings toward you completely changed last year. I was at a track meet when I received missed calls from your side of the family. When I called back they told me you passed away. You died from blood cancer and you never even told me you were sick. It was a shock. One moment I had a dad and the next I was without one.

I wasn’t prepared to lose you, even though I didn’t feel like I ever completely had you.

I wasn’t prepared to lose you, even though I didn’t feel like I ever completely had you.

When I went to your funeral all of your friends told me how you talked about me all of the time and you were honored that I was your son. It confused me. If you loved me and you were so proud of me, why weren’t you there for me? Why were you so absent from my life?

Reggie is aiming to become the first African-American to medal in discus in the Olympic games

Dad, I want you to know instead of searching for answers, I decided to find forgiveness.

I have let go of the hurt. I have let go of the resentment. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

Now, every time I compete I look up and pray to you.

Last Father’s Day was my first Father’s Day without you. I was competing in a tournament, and I thought of you during my final throw. I finished top 4 among the best in the world. See, Dad, I no longer use a hunger to beat you to drive me. I now use my new desire to make you smile to motivate me.

I no longer see us as sharing a name but rather I see our name as one, which means I hold a piece of you and your memory.

While you had your faults, I want our name to represent a warrior- someone who was battle-tested and persevered.

I am not only working hard to be the best version of me. I am striving to be the best version of you.

In doing so, I am no longer holding on to the brokenness you made feel but I am finally repairing our bond by creating a legacy we can both cherish.

Your son,

Reggie Jagers III
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One thought on “Dad, Here is what I never got the chance to tell you

  1. Thank you Reggie this is an amazing story and even though I know the knowledge of growing up in Alabama without my father around was a gift to prepair me in my mission to become a driving force in Change. See I grew up not only without my father but my mother as well for a lot of what was supposed to be my childhood. My mother, Deanne Meeks, was in a terrible accident during my teenage years were I witnessed her being ran over by a black S10 at around 60 mph before church one Sunday morning. Her and I where in mid conversation, she just so happen to find a button on the side walk as we were getting loaded in the vehicle and had walked around to my side to give this button to me because it had come off my brothers paints and she wanted me to keep up with it and remind her to sew it back on after church. The vehicle, parked on the side of the road as most who lived on East Lake Blvd. In Tarrent, AL. did.
    Although you would think no one could have survived such a violent collision my mother miraculously lived and woke from a medicated coma after 4 months but unfortunately had to have 24/7 care from there on as she had lost much of her memory and was confused about who my brothers and I were.
    I knew if I too left Alabama I would not Graduate high school if I too made this trip so I was granted the choice to stay after promising my Mother and Grandmother to Graduate a high school if I stayed. I did just that, on my own, after changing schools by myself without any custodial representation. Graduating from Ashville High School in Alabama in 2005 with perfect attendance Senior year, inducted and published within the National Honor Roll book of 2005, taught three elementary school classes through “First Achievement”, assisting in resolving issues that were the result from a racial riot that took place in our school parking lot, discovering $73,000 in embezzled funds that our school Administration, particularly the county’s School Superintendent, was utilizing to fund his Affair inwhich he was having with our school’s Office secretary. The Superintendent before his time at this level in his Career was the Principal of Ashville High School which included a couple of years inwhich I attended.
    I was also awarded the highest grade in three classes, a scholarship gifted by the Retired Teacher’s Association for an essay wrote describing the knowledge I had learned from the hardships inwhich I had been subject too in the few years I had been alive, and the Principal’s Honor Award from Coach Whaley our principal at that time.
    I did this on my own but it would not have been possible without the lessons my Mother and Father had previously taught me and am thankful for every bit of it because I am the person I am today, a man of God, because I was Alone and out of the Darkness I gained a unconditional love for the Lord and now utilize my story of that Sunday morning to describe to others of the faith of a mustard seed.
    See, no matter what, even the day of this terrible accident, I kept my faith. A kid, who’s mother was not only his Rock but his bestfriend as well, kept his faith after witnessing this hardship before church. I did because I knew this was all for a reason and held on through the toughest of times as this was only the beginning of the lesson that was taught.
    I later asked God in prayer to assure me that I was on the right path since I had kept this faith through everything and He did. I want you to know as good as faith is there is nothing on the intrinsic reward of knowing He is truly real. Have a Blessed evening and always remember to utilize these stories for teaching others and not pity as the hardest of hardships are the best of gifts.
    Thank you again Reggie for your lesson.

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