Mormon athletes pay tribute to their fathers

Published: Sunday, June 15 2014 11:19 a.m. MDT

It had to be terribly boring, Bryan Kehl said. Most of the time Bryan was medicated, engaged in rehab or sitting in his room. But having his father there illustrated something more meaningful for the injured NFL linebacker.

“I told him, 'You don’t have to stay after the surgery,' but he wasn’t going to have it. He said he’s staying until I leave,” Bryan Kehl said. “It shows he’s always been there for me. From day one until the end, he’d been there for me. There has never been a time when he wouldn’t bend over backwards to do anything to help.”

Kehl said his father came to every single one of his little league games, all of his high school games and 49 of the 50 games he played for BYU. The one he missed was at Colorado State during his freshman year when he played sparingly.

Kids remember those things, Kehl said.

“That's how my dad has been my whole life. He has always believed in me and always been there for me,” said Kehl, who was adopted by Gary and Nancy Kehl in 1984. “I’ve been blessed to have as good a dad as a kid could ever hope or dream to have.”

Brian Banks

Before he won a World Series ring with the 2003 Florida Marlins, Brian Banks pulled weeds and played golf with his father, Glen B. Banks.

Every Saturday morning at 6 a.m., they were out doing something productive in the yard. It was mostly misery for the teenager at first, Brian Banks said. Then lessons about the value of consistent hard work began to emerge.

“A lot of times it was just moving one pile of dirt from one area of the backyard to the other. But what I gained was good work ethic and habits, along with an understanding that in order to get where you want to be in life, you’ve got to have a desire to get things done,” said Banks, now retired from the game and working as a dentist in Arizona. “I’m sure as a teenager I was mumbling and groaning, but it was that consistency that ultimately paid off. As I look back, some of the greatest life experiences came in the conversations we had out there in the yard.”

After a few hours in the yard, the conversations continued on the golf course.

“He really took the time to get to know me and find out what was going on in my life and who my friends were,” Banks said of his father. “It was that consistency through my teenage years that I think taught me important values.”

Glen Banks also set a positive example of faith and finding lessons in everyday experiences, Brian Banks said.

The family was also consistent in having family home evening and scripture study, which influenced Brian’s testimony. Each Monday night, he would grab a bag of Oreo cookies and a tall glass of milk and turn on Monday Night Football, only to have the TV turned off for family time.

“I was frustrated that it had to be turned off, but he would try to time it around halftime to keep me happy,” Banks said. “We always ran into the second half. But again, it was that consistency again.”

Ultimately, no matter what happened in Brian’s games from little league to the big leagues, Glen Banks found a way to relate it to life. After each game, he would put his arm around Brian and find deeper meaning in things like strikeouts and home runs.

“'You know, this is a lot like life,’ he would say. 'You are going to have your highs and lows. The important thing is to not get too high or low and understand tomorrow you have a job to do,' ” Brian Banks said. “To him, it was, 'Let’s take whatever good or bad happened and put that into a life lesson.' He still does that today.”

Thurl Bailey

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