BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a sports commentary blog by WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Before yesterday I didn't know him. Today, I believe I do. It was less than a week ago that 16-year-old Sid Ortis died at his Mountain Brook home. After fighting the fight (bone cancer) for 15 months, he was called home. Yet in the midst of a family crisis remained the faith and the optimism of Sid's parents Scott and Lynn. It was a mere five days since they had lost their beloved son, yet Scott and Lynn wanted to tell me not their story, but Sid's.
Maybe it's because I'm the father of two teenagers, a 17-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. Maybe it's because last summer both of my kids underwent serious surgeries and recuperated a floor above where Sid was treated at Children's of Alabama. For many reasons, a myriad of thoughts filled my mind as I sat with Scott and Lynn for about an hour on Wednesday.
"How do they get the strength to agree to a TV interview?" I thought. "Am I being too cold and aggressive, intruding into these people's lives during such a sad time?"
Only a few minutes into the interview, I felt a burden lifted from all of us. Scott told me the story of Sid's diagnosis, his fight, his wit, his spirit. Lynn, outgoing and composed, told me how proud she is of Sid's close circle of friends, along with the entire Mountain Brook community. As the couple chatted away, their faith shined through, a faith that was renewed through Sid's valiant fight.
What did I learn about Sid? I learned that he was teaching us all about what having faith and hope is all about. Never down, never dismissive, Sid fought hard until accepting a reality that he had never wished. Scott relayed the story of Sid's faith, as one night while lying in bed, Sid was asked by his parents if he had grasped just how sick he was.
"Are you scared?" asked Scott.
"No," said Sid. "Dad, it's a win-win. If I die I go to heaven, and if I live I get to stay here with my family."
That, my friend tells you everything about Sid Ortis.
At Thursday's service at the Church Of The Highlands, family and friends gave an uplifting tribute to the long-time LSU football fan. Why LSU? While Sid was born in our state, his parents are from Louisiana. Let's just say that Scott's love of the Bayou Bengals rubbed off. And while Sid's fight went viral, the young man would receive prayers and blessings from around the world (not to mention a trip to an LSU game to meet Les Miles, who had called him numerous times). "Remember Sid, it's not how long you live but how you live your life," Miles told Sid in one call.
As evident at Thursday's church service, Sid, through his spirit and resolve, helped thousands renew and strengthen their faith.
What did I learn from Sid Ortis? I learned that with perhaps not knowing it, he used his fight to rally a community. He used his fight to share his love. He used his fight to show us how a typical teenage kid can make a difference.
Just before Sid passed, he and his mom were having a conversation. Lynn asked Sid that if he did pass, could he send her a message in some way to assure her that he was fine?
"Sure mom, how about I use lady bugs as a sign?"
Over the past few days, hundreds of lady bugs have been seen at the Church Of The Highlands and at the Ortis home in Mountain Brook. So the next time you see a lady bug, think of the young LSU fan from Mountain Brook. After all, he may be using that lady bug to let you know that he is doing just fine.