For many high school students being an athlete is the most important thing in their life. They put everything into training, eating right and doing their best to beat the other team or opponent during a game or match. Most high school athletes, especially seniors, will not go on to play in college or professionally, so when they suit up for the last time, it is the last time they will likely play that sport again. So that last game has special significance as their last show before they gracefully bow out.
Meet high school wrestlers Mitchell McKee and Malik Stewart. The two teens competed for a Minnesota High School State Wrestling Championship, when Malik showed a level of maturity and grace that are rarely seen in a high schooler.
Both athletes gave their all in a hard-fought match. McKee beat Stewart taking first place at the State Championship.
Stewart could have easily given a quick “Good Job” to his opponent and sulked off to the locker room, but instead, he had compassion toward McKee and his family situation. Stewart, who had lost his father to a heart attack when he was a young boy, knew that McKee’s father was fighting for his life with cancer and that the fight was not going well.
So right after being beat by McKee, Stewart gives his opponent a hug and then turns to the stands. He walked up to McKee’s father and shook his hand, the two shared a hug, and Stewart told the father too, “stay strong” and that everybody loves him.
McKee was taken back by Stewart’s actions. He told KARE-TV “It was a big match for him, and to be able to hug my dad like that and not be mad and storm off like a lot of kids do — really respectful.”
The whole crowd stood and gave the two boys a standing ovation for their example of honorable sportsmanship. Stewart has shown us all that there are more important things in life than winning; it’s how you treat others that matters most.
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