Saturday, February 6, 2010
Brian Burke Loses His Youngest Son, Brendan, in a Car Accident
Just when you think that the rich and famous have it all, a day comes along like today that clears it up convincingly enough. The all-powerful Brian Burke, who holds titles such as President and General Manager of The Toronto Maple Leafs, and General Manager of the USA Olympic Team, lost his youngest son in a car accident late last night.
Brendan Burke was killed when his 2004 Jeep Cherokee slid into oncoming traffic, colliding with a truck, killing him and his 18 year old friend, Mark Reedy.
It is a moment that every parent fears. This moment seemed to have a much greater tragedy to me, than simply the facts of yet another young man dying in a chance accident. This story caught my attention because I was watching TSN in the late Fall 2009, and saw Brian Burke and his now late son Brendan talking about how Brendan was openly gay.
Obviously, there were a lot of concerns of how someone so powerful, macho, and old school like Brian Burke would take this. Being a man in his position, having an openly gay son in sports and the media, might tarnish his reputation. But here sat Brian Burke on TSN openly supporting his youngest son Brendan on a TV exclusive coming out for all to know.
I thought to myself that it takes great courage to be a man that would openly support his son and his lifestyle when it clearly would go against his own moral upbringing. To be honest, I was a bit surprised to see Brian Burke be so supportive of his son's decision to come forward, and live his life in the vast shadow that his father's reputation casts. Brian Burke has always been that hard nosed Irishman with a eye for calling a spade a spade.
Not that there is anything wrong with his son's choice, but in the past, you have seen other examples of celebrities children coming out, and receiving less than the support which you would expect a parent to show. But that day, Brian Burke surprised me. Surprised me so much in fact, that I wrote him an email telling him how I admired his actions, and that they spoke volumes about his character.
But today, I imagine his resolve is a bit different. Only a few months ago, his son had made a brave step forward with the support of his father, and now today, he is no longer with us. As tragic as that may be, Brendan's actions to come forward certainly will pave the way for countless others, to come forward and live their lives being openly gay.
But this will not take away the sting of the loss that losing a child will bring... My heart goes out to the Burke family, and all those in Brendan's life, whom he came into contact with that made a difference in their lives. I cannot imagine the pain and senseless hurt that they are feeling at this time. I just hope that they are left with the memory of their brave son, in his brief life that will undoubtedly pave the way for others behind him to live their life in the same courageous manner.
Rest in Peace Brendan Burke...