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Author Topic: Goodwill of U-M's [Michigan] Watson rings loudly  (Read 790 times)

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Offline Lost Highway

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Goodwill of U-M's [Michigan] Watson rings loudly
« on: Fri Oct 07, 2005 - 13:10:31 »

ANN ARBOR -- Gabe Watson is a big man with an even bigger heart.

It seemed like a small gesture, but it was the only one that Watson, a 6-foot-4, 331-pound starting defensive tackle for Michigan, found meaningful and appropriate.

Watson had never met 8-year-old Matt Keyser of Sturgis, Mich., before Monday. Keyser, who was diagnosed last summer with a rare form of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), was unconscious and on a respirator when he and his family visited Michigan Stadium on Monday afternoon, fulfilling his Make-A-Wish Foundation wish. The Michigan Stadium scoreboard beamed a message welcoming "Matthew and his family," and the Michigan band later played "The Victors" for him.

But as Watson, who was joined by other U-M football players -- Jamar Adams, Steve Breaston, Mike Hart, Morgan Trent and Marques Walton also spent time with Matt -- was saying his goodbyes to Keith Keyser, Matt's father, he had a special gift.

"I thought I had experienced every emotion," Keith Keyser said. "I shook hands with Gabe Watson and I thought he was giving me a rock or something. I opened my hand, I saw the ring (Outback Bowl ring) and I just lost it."

Watson said that as he drove to the stadium that day, he remembered lessons from his youth.

"When I was growing up, my father told me that if you ever had a chance to do something for someone and you have something to give, give it," said Watson, who grew up in Detroit and Southfield. "I didn't think twice about it.

"I heard (Matt) was a big Michigan fan, and I wanted to give him something I thought would mean a lot to him. I had the Outback Bowl ring in my car ... if I had had my Big Ten championship ring on me, it would have been his."

Watson said he fought back tears as he spoke with Keith Keyser.

"That's what everything is about," Watson said. "It's not about football. It's about making other people feel good. When you take that bus ride to the stadium on Saturdays, I realize I have my health, I have this, I have that. I'm living, and I'm going to school and playing at a great university.

"The Outback Bowl (Jan. 2, 2003) ring took a lot of work to get. But I don't need a ring to know we won it. It's more useful to Matt's family."

Keith Keyser said that one day in July, Matt woke up and felt really sick. Doctors do not know the source of his illness.

"It's been a long road," said Keith Keyser, who, along with his wife, Holly, is spending every minute with their son at the hospital. "He's hanging on. He's surpassed what the doctors have felt so far, and the doctors believe he is running on borrowed time.

"Our faith is strong. We've been a blessed family. A lot of bad things have happened to Matt, but a lot of good have come from this."

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Goodwill of U-M's [Michigan] Watson rings loudly
« on: Fri Oct 07, 2005 - 13:10:31 »