This story is a snapshot of my Godson, Devon Gales, and the relationship he shares with his Godfather, Coach Gantt. This story is the inspiration for the book project they are working on about Devon’s life and injury; their relationship and the commitment to clinging to faith in the midst of adversity.
I have a snapshot of Devon Gales and Coach Bryant Gantt in my head that replays repeatedly like the reel in a silent movie. Coach Gantt is feeding Devon pecans. The vision of this in and of itself is enough to make me laugh uncontrollably, especially since I’m privy to the massiveness of Coach Gantt’s hands and the overwhelming UGA Championship ring he wears with great pride.
However, my laughter quickly subsides once I embrace the tenderness of the moment and how it came to pass. It occurred early in Devon’s rehabilitative process but it speaks volumes of the wonderful relationship between the two men.
While we were away, Devon decided to get a snack and he struggled with accomplishing the task but Coach Gantt, stepped in and feed him.
That’s my snapshot, Devon so vulnerable and determined; and Coach Gantt so big and strong; but sitting together sharing a tender moment filled with camaraderie, empathy and compassion. Devon comfortable with allowing him to help, not prideful or embarrassed; and Coach Gantt figuring out how to offer assistance without being emasculating.
Prior to this snapshot, for months I bore witness as men watched Devon struggle with mastering basic tasks during their visits with him at the Shepherd Center and their response was to ignore his effort and wait until the medical staff or a female caregiver intervened.
Never to help. Their hesitation grounded in sexism, culturalism, but mostly because football isn’t for wimps and their own inability to acknowledge their fear.
Nevertheless, Coach Gantt an imposing man looked past all that, stood in his fearlessness, and found the balance. And Devon met him without hesitation or reservation; and so their balancing act began.
They are forever intertwined and so connected that the relationship of Godfather/Godson seems a bit inadequate when I think of them together.
However, God is definitely in the relationship they share. Coach Gantt is old enough to be Devon’s father but is still a boy in so many ways because of his love for this game that is part battleground, part playground is able to offer life lessons to this man-child as he navigates the world.
Devon the eager student that absorbs Coach Gantt’s lessons like a sponge not realizing he is teaching as well. He is offering Coach Gantt lessons in courage, strength, and living a life that completes his worth. Their relationship will transcend time and it will bear fruit because it is strong and exists for a purpose bigger than itself, it exists for GOD.
Ultimately, the book we’re writing is the result. It is not only the story of Devon Gales and Coach Bryant Gantt but also the story of how GOD has hardwired us all for glory.
We all have the capacity to be a part of something far bigger than our own small existence. This book will inspire young men to be brave, believe, trust, and commit to something bigger than themselves.