What is a hero to you? To me it is complicated, but kind of simple in it’s complication. I think we throw around the “hero” label to easy and sometimes foolishly in our great nation. Heroism (to me) is forged in the fires of perseverance, overcoming obstacles and shining in the face of past failures. The truth is that you can find “heroic” acts in most people’s lives but has it truly touched you? I think heroes are constant, not just when it’s convenient for them. Heroes are also flawed, but somehow they rise above their flaws to inspire. Proud, confident and humble, not asking for attention or award. I sit back and think about my heroes; here are a few.

1.) Toni Grant (mom). She is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever known. Yes, I am biased, but I   think if you’ve ever met my mother, you would agree. Mom has endured and struggled through everything you can imagine. Whether it be from losing her parents to horrific illnesses or losing a child last year. Six kids and what seems like 100 grand-kids, raising most of us by herself and lending more than a helping hand with grand-kids and now great grand-kids. My Mom is flawed and the best part about that is she knows it and isn’t afraid of it. My mom was born into basic poverty in the backwoods of the south. She now runs a successful business and is a proud homeowner, working proudly and hard well into her seventies. Her life is an interesting long story that will be written. I pray and hope everyday that I was passed some of my mother’s toughness and grace.

2.) Tawni Rachel (cousin). Tawni and I are more alike than I ever realized. We wear our emotions on our sleeves for the world to see (if you have this gene, it is impossible to hide). Tawni has created a family dynamic that is hard to match, a great Mother. She stays grounded in faith and although she seems sweet and innocent on the outside, underneath is one of the strongest souls I’ve ever known. Almost losing everything in the collapse of the economy, she and her family has persevered and evolved. Going back to college, she will soon earn a degree in her forties, proving that it is never too late and age should never be a deciding factor. Finding a career path that she never imagined and what else; counselling and helping (advising) future college students. I wish I knew her in my younger life but am eternally grateful that I made that phone call when I moved to Phoenix.

3.) Jon Stanley (friend). Jon is a 54 year old PGA Professional from Phoenix Arizona, perhaps becoming the most decorated Pro in the Southwest Section. I met him over a decade ago at Stone-creek Golf Club, where I worked on and off for about 5 years. I was invited to help them teach junior clinics during the holidays and summer months. I slowly got to know Jon and one day he asked me if I would caddy for him in a local US Open qualifier. I obliged and an on and off course relationship began. On the golf course, Jon has taken me on an incredible ride, from multiple PGA National Championships (one more next year, as he qualified again), to the US Senior Open in 2009, all the way to the PGA Tour in the Phoenix Open last year. I’ve been there on the bag for some of the best and most heart wrenching golf moments you can imagine. Jon is also one of the most misunderstood gentlemen I’ve ever met. It’s a good example of how judgment of a person can be concluded too quickly. I think his flaw is sometimes doing the same thing that is done to him, quick judgment, one comment or action does not always define the worth of a human being. Jon is sometimes referred to the grumpy guy behind the sunglasses, he is much more. It is hard to penetrate his outer defenses but with age and experience I’ve seen him letting more people in (by no means softening up but easing up). The true hero continues to evolve, throughout his or her entire existence. We play golf differently but if you look closely, you can definitely see his influences in my game. I love the big guy and will continue to take his bag, as long as I can walk.

4.) W Scott Grant (brother) Ten years ago I was the best man at his wedding. Ten years later, to the day, last month he was mine. As a kid, I used to sit up late at night and devise ways of dispatching my brother from the earth, him and his asshole friends. I would have done it too, if not for one fact. They were so freaking cool, everyone loved them and I desperately wanted to be like them. On more than one occasion I was sucked in to some “get Billy” scheme because I actually thought they wanted to hang out with me, so gullible. Scott especially had an unbelievable “teenage career.” He was able to balance everything, from averaging 20 plus points a game in high school basketball to partying with the best of them and the entire time he was able to show up to school and get straight As. He could do no wrong and it pissed me off, envy was my sin. I’ll never forget the day it all changed between us. We were at the “Dayton Park” playing basketball and I was the only youngster on the court. I came down for a layup and got rocked by an older guy (I remember this guy but will omit his name), Scott and he exchanged words and the next trip down the court he blocked my shot again and pushed me to the ground (keep in mind I was 12 and these guys were 18ish). My big brother stepped in and grabbed the guy by the throat, “don’t F@#k with my little brother.” I will never forget those words. I look up to my brother everyday and his “heroism” keeps changing from year to year for me. I now look up to him for the role model he has become for his kids. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to spend any time at all with them, you quickly realize the quality of parenting that has gone on. I now realize how important I am to him as he delivered both a funny and touching toast at my wedding.

5.) Stephanie Grant (MY WIFE) She is my hero. There are so many reasons but the main one is that she fills the gaps in my life that have been lost or are lacking. She motivates me, Stephanie took over a year off from college and decided to go back. It’s a small percentage of people that “take time off” and actually go back, one is writing right now and amongst the ones that go back, I think it is even a smaller percentage that graduate. It was a lot of hard work, an absolute grind but she overcame. The proudest moment of my life (other than our wedding) was watching her get her diploma. The reason is because I knew how hard it was and how at times she wanted to quit but sucked it up. She now works at a big pharmaceutical company as a Senior Lab Tech and has recently been given a huge project with big time responsibility, even though she’s only been for there for a year and a half. I truly believe my wife can do anything she wants to and I will be there to support her.

These are just a few of the people that I look to for inspiration, I could go on for hours about each one of them. Do you need a lift? I’m sure if you look closely, you’ll find someone around you that is extraordinary.