I have never been more intimidated by people than the first time I met Brenda and Jay Saldi.
Jay had just retired from the NFL. A tight end with an attitude. A Superbowl ring. A glower that came from somewhere deep inside.
Brenda was simply movie star gorgeous.
And they both have the most amazing eyes. A light blue iris the color of which I've never seen before or since. Black hole pupils that peer into you.
My family and the Saldi's came to be friends. Their three boys grew up with my four oldest kids.
All three boys had the same amazing eyes. Especially the youngest, Bryce.
The first time I met Bryce, he was in diapers, chasing his older brothers around the house with a stick.
All three boys followed in their dad's football footsteps. High school studs, college scholarships.
Bryce just finished spring drills a few weeks ago at UNLV, and was recognized for his outstanding play.
He and his roommate took a few days off and went to Lake Arrowhead, California for some relaxation.
On July 3, Jay got a call in Dallas at midnight. It was Bryce's roommate. Bryce had fallen off a skateboard and had hit the back of his head on concrete.
He was unconscious. Over the phone, Jay heard the helicopter in the background picking up Bryce.
Bryce has been unconscious since. Six feet four inches, 240 pounds of muscle, he lies in ICU at Loma Linda University Medical Center about an hour east of Los Angeles.
I first heard about it today. I called ICU, and managed to reach Jay.
I made the drive over this evening.
The Saldi's are now living in Loma Linda to be close to Bryce. Their world is upside down.
The Saldi's went thru a tough divorce in 2000. There are two sides to the story. And it now doesn't matter.
All that matters is getting Bryce healthy and back home. The non-nuclear family is now all living together in a rented house 1400 miles from home.
Being all too familiar with how one phone call can change everything, my heart broke talking to Jay.
Over the years, I came to find out I wasn't the only person he intimidated. When he played for the Cowboys, his nickname was "Dr. Rude".
I've seen him weep twice.
Once at a men's retreat when he recounted how Tom Landry led him to salvation thru Christ our Savior.
Jay has fought alot of battles over the years. He said nothing compared to this.
Lord, watch over this family and Bryce.
How we long to see those bright eyes again.