My 5 Living Heroes:
- Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin Jr. is one of my living heroes. Despite being only 5 feet 9 inches tall, much shorter than most other players at his position, Doug played football at Stanford University, leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns his senior year while also keeping a 3.5 GPA. Despite going undrafted in 2011, he was signed by the Seahawks as a free agent at the start of the season. While he went to two Super Bowls with the Seahawks in 2014 and 2015, football commentators declared that he was a mediocre, “pedestrian” receiver. Last season, Baldwin proved them wrong as he racked up 1,069 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, which included three in one game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Doug is one of my living heroes because he never stopped pursuing his dream to become one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, despite being told by the media that he would never be able to do so.
- Professional golfer Jason Day is one of my living heroes. Jason grew up in Beaudesert, Australia, a town of only 6,000 people. His parents worked in a meat shop, and his family struggled to get by for most of his childhood. As a child, he would go to the nearby dump with his family to search for furniture and other valuable items. Despite having little money, his father signed him up for a junior membership at the local golf club; he would go there straight after school and practice for hours. His father died when he was 12, and Jason began to suffer from depression and began drinking alcohol to cope with the pain that he felt. Knowing that she had to break Jason out of this cycle, his mother spent most of the money that she had to send him to boarding school, where he continued to focus on both golf and his schooling. Jason improved quickly, and he became a professional at the age of 18. Last year, Jason won the PGA Championship and he is currently the #1 ranked golfer in the world. Jason is one of my living heroes because he continued to train at his sport despite many adversities that he faced as a child, and because he reached his challenging goal of becoming one of the best golfers in the world.
- Professional hockey player Henrik Lundqvist is one of my living heroes. Henrik grew up in Are, a small town in northern Sweden. At the age of 5, he received his first pair of skates and began to spend his time skating across frozen ponds in his hometown. He began to play organized hockey by the age of 8. When he was 11 he volunteered to be the goaltender for his youth team, and he instantly began to love playing at this position. He began his career as a professional goalkeeper at the age of 18 for the Swedish team Frolunda. It wasn’t long before the NHL’s New York Rangers saw Henrik as a valuable goaltender prospect. In his first season playing for Frolunda, the Rangers organization made the decision to draft him. Since 2005, Henrik has played goalie for the Rangers, and he has proven to be one of the greatest of all time, allowing only 2.2 goals per game on average. Henrik is one of my living heroes because is a dedicated hockey player from a small town in rural Sweden that has become one of the best goaltenders in the world.
- Olympic Swimmer Nathan Adrian is one of my living heroes. Nathan grew up in nearby Bremerton, Washington and began swimming when he was five. Throughout his childhood, Nathan trained tirelessly and continued to win medal after medal at competitions. He attended Bremerton High School, where he held a 3.79 GPA along with winning the State 100 meter freestyle event freshman through senior year. Nathan was a successful college swimmer at UC Berkeley. He graduated in 6 years after taking time off for an intense training program that would prepare him for the Olympics. In 2012, Nathan qualified for the US Olympic team and headed to London for the summer games. It was on this stage that Nathan’s many years of dedicated training would pay off. Nathan won the gold medal in the 100m freestyle, his favorite event. He also won another gold medal as part of the men’s 4X100m medley. Nathan is one of my living heroes because he set goals early on in his life and worked as hard as he could to achieve them. Nathan is a great example of someone whose endless preparation allowed him to become victorious.
- Female education activist Malala Yousafzai is one of my living heroes. Yousafzai grew up as a young girl in Pakistan, where the Taliban terrorist organization banned young girls from going to school. Despite the coercive powers of the Taliban, Malala spoke out against them for banning girls from attending school, and promoted female education and empowerment across the country starting when she was only 12 years old through anonymous blog posts. When the Taliban discovered her identity, they boarded her school bus and shot her three times, with one bullet entering her forehead. Malala miraculously survived the attack, and after being rehabilitated she continued to fearlessly challenge the Taliban. In 2014, Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for female education and her bravery in standing up to the Taliban. Malala is one of my living heroes because she fearlessly stood up for what she believed in, and she continued to advocate for the well-being of others even after being ruthlessly coerced and attacked by the Taliban.