When I read a book, I’m all about the first page. Sometimes the first sentence. If a writer can’t bring it with that opening shot, I’ve learned, it’s probably not going to happen. That’s why I was stoked when I cracked Mark Miller’s (former Glory kickboxer) new biography, Pain Don’t Hurt, and on the first page read an anecdote regarding his Catholic school playground. (My recap): Mark is five years old. The whole church gathered for a fundraiser type event, watching a helicopter rise to drop ping pong balls. Kids cheer. Parents wave at the student on board. Then the copter clips something. Careens forward, wobbling this way and that. Loses control and plummets into the crowd. The blade chops arms and heads. Screams ensue. Chaos. Mark survives.
Later, after giving her diabetic son a slice of luscious German chocolate cake, his mother tells him, “Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Life is very cruel and you just have to survive it any way possible.”
Now that’s a great intro. Not great in the sense that a grip of innocent school kids got mauled by a helicopter. But great in the sense that the scene is a perfect glimpse for what’s to come.
I know Mark well. Love the guy. He’s humble, nice, quick with a smile. Makes you wonder how you’d hold up under the strain of such unrelenting health problems.
- Back surgery
- Reconstructive nose surgery
- Shoulder surgery
- Open heart surgery
But those were just the warmups, because he still needs:
- Kidney transplant
- Pancreas transplant
Until then, every other day he undergoes dialysis. Oh, and he wears a patch on his right eye, because for some reason the damn thing filled with blood. The saga seems never ending. But these brutal trials only serve to highlight Mark’s courage and resilience, and as with all great myths, provide the canvas for a fitting moral.
“If you are lucky, you’ll fail enough to love your success,” Mark writes, “The past is an anchor with suffering written on the rope. I don’t live there now. I am cutting myself free. And while I might not have everything figured out, I am slowly getting there, and I can say that I know who I am and I’m not perfect, but I am resilient… and I am a fighter, in every sense of the word. We all are.”
It’s a great book. Pick it up. And if you’re in Los Angeles tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 16, 2014) drop by Book Soup at 7pm for his book signing.
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