When I say we were competitive, that didn't just encompass sports. For example, there were times we'd be sitting on the porch at my grandparents' house eating plums from my grandmother's plum trees. After we ate them, we would see who could spit their pit farthest into the yard. Somebody would mark the longest spit, and we'd eat more plums just so we could have another chance to beat whoever was in first place. It was crazy, but it was so much fun. I usually won, by the way!
Anything we could find for competition, we were all over it. One of my favorites was pitching washers. Also called Texas horseshoes, this game involves two- to three-inch metal ¬washers and PVC cups that are sunk into the ground. You pitch the washer toward the cup and get points for being closest to the cup and more points for having it actually go in. Some people play on sandpits, but my grandfather made a court out of turf. That was a big game for us as kids, and it taught me control and accuracy.
I have no doubt all those backyard games played a huge part in stoking my competitive fire. And they're also some of my best memories.
One of the most difficult things I experienced as a child was the divorce of my mom and dad. But it was that adversity that brought Reid and me so close. I was seven and Reid was about five when Mom and Dad divorced. At that age you don't quite understand how the world works. We were so young and had so many unanswered questions: Why are Mommy and Daddy not together anymore? Was it something we did? Could we have stopped it somehow? That is why when I met my wife, I knew divorce was not an option and I never wanted to put my children through that.
I remember seeing my parents sit down many times to talk, and I figured it was only a matter of time before we would be a family again. That is, until the day my dad sat Reid and me down on the couch to explain the situation. I remember it like it was yesterday. There are certain moments in your life you just don't forget. When he sat us down, I had no idea what was coming at first, although whenever he took off his glasses to talk to us, I knew it was not going to be good. The only time I have ever seen my dad take off his glasses, besides to clean them, is when he is about to get emotional. He made it clear that day that things would never be the same again. To this day, I still get teary-eyed when I think about how painful that moment was for all of us.
Reid and I spent many nights awake long after lights-out, hoping and praying that our parents would get back together. We cried ourselves to sleep a lot during that time. The split wasn't an amicable one, and there was bitterness between the two sides. In fact, Reid and I were caught in the middle from the time we were kids until my mom passed away in August 2009. When you're a kid, normal is whatever is happening at the time. Reid and I basically had two homes. I'd spend two days at my mom's house, then two days at my dad's house, and we'd switch off every other weekend.