By Branden Lombardi
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 24, 2003
Don't mind that it is only the fourth week in April, but this weekend marks a joyous time in every red-blooded, male American's life.
No, I am not talking about the Pi Beta Phi pool party öö although I do love my Pi Phis öö I am talking about that annual spring occurrence known as the NFL draft. Yes sports fans, 17 hours of NFL draft coverage await us this weekend, or more than the government's daily allowance of Mel Kiper Jr.
However, this is not just another weekend to crack open a 30-pack of Keystone Light and sit in front of the big screen watching the draft unfold.
No, Wildcat fans, this weekend is special.
A person who ÷ whether they know it or not ÷ is very near and dear to me, is entering the NFL draft and on the verge of fulfilling his lifelong dream.
I always dreamed of playing professional football.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the natural team to root for was the hometown 49ers.
Every weekend I would climb into the laundry hamper to pull out my football pants and my red number 33 jersey, Roger Craig's number, my favorite player and watch the games with my dad, dreaming of someday playing in the NFL myself.
Fast-forward to the present, and you find a 6-foot, 155-pound white kid with no speed and decent hands, who can only fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL by creating a player in the latest version of Madden Football for the Playstation 2.
However, Bobby Wade, the senior wide receiver, is about to embark on his NFL journey and fulfill his childhood dream of being a professional athlete.
My personal highlights of Bobby Wade began far before his streaks down the sidelines at Arizona Stadium, and our relationship stemmed way prior.
I am an alumnus of the famed Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, and that is where I spent my formative years watching Bobby tear up defenses as a runningback and haunting wide receivers as a cornerback while he donned the blue and gold of Desert Vista.
It was during our senior year of high school that we got to know each other.
As lab partners in anatomy and physiology, we spent many hours together dissecting earthworms and cats.
While he and I shared a friendly rapport, we were nothing more than acquaintances.
That all changed in December of 1998, when I was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, or bone cancer.
While being diagnosed with cancer was extremely hard to deal with, I tried to keep as normal a life as possible while facing the various challenges that cancer now posed for me.
I was only able to attend school for about 15 days during the second semester of my senior year, but when I was able to attend, Bobby always made it entertaining for me.
There were days when all I could do was sit in my wheelchair and watch everyone in the class take part in the labs around me.
However, Bobby was always more than willing to create some entertainment for me, even if that consisted of pushing me through the halls at breakneck speeds and giving me more of a thrill than I bargained for.
And when my class would call me in the hospital to see how I was doing, Bobby was always one of the first people to talk to me on the phone, lifting my spirits more than he ever knew.
Granted, we haven't stayed in too close of contact since we both entered UA, and that I regret.
Still, these past few years I have enjoyed watching Bobby entertain the student body on a weekly basis, as he did back in high school, always cheering a little harder when he had the ball in his hands.
When I hearken back to my days in high school, I think of the guy cracking jokes in class and wheeling me through the halls, and I hope that Bobby ends up with a good team where he has a chance to show off his amazing skills.
I wish Bobby the best of luck with his professional career, and selfishly, I hope that he ends up with those same 49ers.
That way one day my son can climb into the hamper and pull out his Bobby Wade jersey. Then I can tell him not only how great of a player Bobby is, but how great a guy he is as well.