Since last Wednesday, from Minnesota to Ohio, tears of sorrow have been shed for one of the Valley's own. Dealing with the loss of a cherished son, a beloved husband and father, a valued teammate, an esteemed member of the community is never easy. But that task is so much more difficult in mourning the death of a young man, a kind and decent man, who in realizing his own life's goals took the time to help others reach their goals as well.
Such a man was football playerKorey Stringer.
He was only 21 when he turned pro, quitting Ohio State University in his junior year. The Minnesota Vikings chose him in the first round of the 1995 draft, happy to pick the 1992 Big Ten freshman of the year, the 1994 first-team All-American and twice a first team All-Big Ten player.
The son of James and Cathy Stringer of Warren, Korey was a member of Warren Harding's Division I state championship team in 1990, and was the Associated Press Lineman of the Year as a senior.
Success story: But his life was not only football. At Bancroft Elementary School in Minneapolis, Minn., the fifth graders knew Stringer as a volunteer in their classroom, challenging them to read more, saying "When you read, you succeed."
Stringer helped the Warren Little Raiders even after he moved to Minnesota. When he heard that the team needed equipment they couldn't afford, he endorsed his $15,000 Pro Bowl check and gave it to them.
The Rebecca Williams Community Center was also the beneficiary of Stringer's generosity. Quietly, as was his manner, he paid for much of the renovation of the RWCC gym.
At one St. Paul high school, Stringer used to show up in the stands during football games. Last year, he volunteered with the team three times a week, sometimes taking the 16-, 17- and 18-year-old linemen aside on the field for words of encouragement
Those who say talk is cheap could not possibly understand the power and value of Stringer's words. Those who only see the rough and tumble of football, are unlikely to see the humility and personal gentleness of the 335-pound lineman.
His body may have been big, but his heart was so much bigger.
We hope that Stringer's wife Kelci and son Kodie find some consolation in the outpouring of love for their husband and dad from throughout the country. Our prayers are with them.
Kodie will always have the legacy of his father's good name and the knowledge that the lives of so many were better off because of Korey Stringer.