I rarely get too excited when I see a famous person, whether they are in movies, sports, music or politics. Though I imagine there are a few that I might get pretty excited about. Maybe that’s because I live in Los Angeles, and it’s not uncommon to see movie stars when I pick up my morning coffee at Starbucks.
But last night was a totally different experience. I was sitting at the gate in LAX, waiting for my flight to Dallas with my fiance. My fiance and I were cathing our last flight to Dallas together, preparing this last week, as we head into our wedding on Saturday.
And as I’m sitting there, this man walks by, who looks like Emmitt Smith, but I’m not quite sure. He looked a little older, and a little smaller than I thought Emmitt might look like. And he definitely was much more unassuming than I had imagined the leading NFL rusher would carry himself. Even though I hear stories of his humility and desire to be out of the limelight, it was even harder for me to determine if this was Emmitt, my childhood hero, and the man who graced my walls in photos and posters when I was in high school.
I turned to my fiance and I said, I think that’s Emmitt Smith. Then I turned again, and said, on a scale of 1-10, I am giving an 8 that it is Emmitt Smith. Then I started eavesdropping…..yes…bad habit in public sometimes. And within a few phrases, like football, rushing, etc., I knew it was him. I turn to my fiance, and confirmed with her my discovery. Emmitt then proceeds to get up, ask us a question about the flight, and then heads to the gate. I was in shock. I turn to Emmitt’s wife, and say, “Is that Emmitt Smith?” She says, “Yes.” I was so excited I could hardly believe it.
A few minutes later, Emmitt returns, and I look him in the eyes and ask, “Can I shake your hand?” and “Are you Emmitt Smith?” In which his wife replies, “You didn’t believe me?” I did. But how else do I enter into a greeting with my childhood hero.
Unbelievable. My heart was racing during this experience, which my fiance found a little odd I think, and probably not quite sure about another person, let alone another man, getting my heart rate to such a quickening pulse.
And that was it. I saw him on the plane when we boarded. I saw him come to baggage claim to pick up his own bags among the people who worship him. No special service. Just an ordinary guy it seems. This guy who was hardly noticed in LA could not get off the plane in Dallas, or walk through the terminal or baggage claim without everyone stopping, staring, and whispering.
It was an amazing experience to see someone you have grown up admiring, in such a gracious, and humble light.
What a good omen I thought to start off one of the most important weeks in my life. The week leading into my marriage. I will count this experience and encouter as a special gift from God.
Now maybe I’m a little too ga ga over this brief introduction, and maybe my fiance didn’t like the fact that I told her I wasn’t going to wash my right hand for two weeks after I shook hands with Emmitt. But everyone has that one person in life, that they want to meet. And for me, I never thought about Emmitt as being that guy. But meeting him was more than I imagined.