Last week, I wrote maybe my silliest column, about songs from 1980s sports movies.
This week’s column is maybe my most serious. Literally about life and death.
Rick Robertson was born in Conway in 1970. His grandparents ran Prince Street Grocery, near where the roundabout is now by Conway High. It was a great little store. Kids used to walk from the junior high to the high school for offseason practice and would often stop by the store on the way for a drink or a snack.
Last weekend, Rick was laid to rest at age 47.
Rick, or Rickey as he was called in his youth, was a great athlete. If you don’t believe me, all you had to do was ask him. He was a very confident, type-A personality. But he could back it up.
He was a really good basketball and baseball player for Conway High School in the late 1980s. Was a great golfer too. When we were helping clean out his house last week, we came across at least three plaques denoting holes-in-one.
But basketball was where he really excelled. He could shoot. We often kidded him that his elbow must have hurt after each game because he shot so much.
Rickey played for Cliff Garrison at Hendrix. He was a junior on one of the best Warrior teams in school history. That 1990-91 squad went 28-5, and a stellar 17-1 in the AIC. The one loss was by two points to UCA in the final regular-season game.
The two crosstown rivals met a couple weeks later in the finals of the NAIA District 17 Tournament. The winner earned a spot in the NAIA national tournament.
That season, UCA also happened to have one of its best teams in school history, finishing at 29-5. The teams split in the regular season. But the Bears won the rubber match, 90-84, and went on to finish as the national runner-up.
Rickey was a great guy.
Rickey was a great friend.
Rickey was an alcoholic. It is what ultimately killed him. His family gave me permission to write about Rickey and his disease. It is their hope, and mine, that his story might help someone in need.
If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, get help. It’s OK to ask for help. It really is. Addiction is very hard to beat on your own.
If someone you care about has a problem, help them get help. You don’t want to be the one lying in that hospital bed. You also don’t want to be the one sitting next to that hospital bed.
You can find information online about many successful addiction support programs. Just across the river in Perry County is a great one in Renewal Ranch. The most well-known is Alcoholics Anonymous. The phone number for AA in central Arkansas is (501) 664-7303.
If you need help, please get it.