Matthew Derek Blackwell
April 8, 1986 - May 11, 2001
I write this somewhat brief description of Matt the only way I know how; as his Dad. Putting his life into words is both a rewarding and a difficult task. Rewarding in that, as his father, I always welcome the opportunity to openly express what my son meant to my life, yet difficult in that it’s hard to describe, briefly, someone, who, in so many ways, was your life. I could write volumes about Matt, how he touched the lives of his family, his friends, and, even now, those whom he never even met.
Matt was a beautiful child. Everything, at least in the eyes of his mother and I, we could have asked for in a son. Bright, sensitive, energetic, athletic, and loving are only a few adjectives which could be used to describe him. A wonderful sense of humor and a smile, sometimes so wide his eyes would almost completely close.
Matt was a giver. He gave of his time to help others young and old. He coached T-ball up until the time he died, knowing the importance of being a role model to younger kids, just as he had positive role models when he was growing up.
A neighbor told me a story shortly after Matt had passed away. The father had come into his home and asked his wife, where his 5 year old daughter was. The wife points to the backyard. There, the father sees his 5-year-old daughter with Matt, a 15 year old, teaching her how to hit a T-Ball. With all the patience in the world, Matt watches her hit the ball, he retrieves the hit ball, brings it back, and repeats the process over and over. The father was so touched that a teenager would take the time, when there could be thousands of other things he could be doing for himself, to teach and encourage his young child.
You see, Matt respected others. He looked for the good and positive in everyone. He saw people in a light that some never do in lifetime. He encouraged those around him, trying to give hope in situations where many obstacles had to be overcome. I think Matt saw the big picture. In the words of LHS Baseball Coach Steve Williams, “Unlike many, Matt saw beyond the end of his nose.”
Matt was a competitor. Ask any of those who played with or against him. He played hard, with all his heart, whether it was a baseball game or just a backyard, pick up, basketball game. There were times when he would go to weight conditioning for baseball, leave directly for a church basketball game, and play two games back to back, and in that last minute of that last game he’d be playing just as hard as when it all began. Down by 10 runs, ahead by 30 points, his effort was always the same.
But with all of his competitive spirit, and the will to win, Matt never lost sight of the importance of sportsmanship. When all was said and done, and the final gun had sounded, Matt was there to greet his opponent, with his head held high and a heartfelt “Good Game, Guys.” That spirit, and not the talent, was what I, as his father, was most proud of.
Matt was the true definition of a teammate. Coach Williams described him as “A player’s player”, the one on the sidelines or in the game always encouraging, motivating, uplifting his teammates. Positive attitude and confidence, willing to risk failure for the possibility of success, that was the way Matt thought it should be. His heart and spirit are the reasons Coach Williams let him wear that #1 jersey. That’s the reason The Matt Blackwell Foundation logo is what it is. It is our hope that the words used to describe Matt’s personality and his many wonderful qualities can always be used to describe the foundation which honors his name. ~ Larry Blackwell