Quite a while back, an upper-middle-age black gentleman (I'd put him close to 60) and I were chatting at the office about the Michael Vick case, shortly after that story first broke. At one point during the conversation, he stopped, looked around, lowered his voice, leaned toward me, and said in earnest,
"When you get out of the ghetto, you've GOT to leave the ghetto behind."
The statement rocked me, but not for a race-relations reason. I thought his statement profound because the idea behind it is universal.
Regardless of what one tries to bail, one must actually bail if he wants it truly and forever changed. Whether it's an abusive relationship, a drug addiction, being poor, co-dependency, alcohol, or even just a toxic group of friends, one can't dabble in the past and still get out.
I couldn't help but recall this conversation, and the getting out means leaving it behind concept, when I read about the murder of Steve McNair. I'm not trying to equate the horror of actively participating in a dog fighting ring to being the victim of murder. I'm trying to say that when someone "makes good," once he's achieved the fame and the money, he has to be even more vigilant in his personal dealings than before the good fortune (or just rewards for hard work) arrived because fame and money often cause things to spin completely out of control.
Michael Vick lost his empathy and his freedom. Steve McNair lost his marriage vow and his life.