, Muskogee, OK

November 22, 2012

COLUMN: Take heed of a lesson regarding a bad choice

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— I’m going to try to visit a former Rougher today, maybe to encourage him in some way. It’s hard to see much he has to be thankful for, but there is.

Braxton Owens should be thankful his impending stay in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections wasn’t set  to be longer, and that E.J. Mayes, the man he beat and robbed 18 months ago, is alive today. If not, that sentence certainly would have been worse than the 20-year prison sentence he got last week.

Again, that’s not much on his plate. Owens will have to serve at least 17 years, meaning he’ll be about 40 when he’s released. That’s a lot of life’s prime wasted.

This isn’t to gain empathy for Owens. There was a crime committed here. Mayes was choked so hard his eyes hemorrhaged. He had a stroke. All for a bag of cash Mayes had the day Owens picked up a vehicle for repair.

Had Owens not been high, he might still be free.

The highly personable linebacker was recruited a few years back out of Muskogee by Emporia State, a Division II school now aligned with Northeastern State in the MIAA. A college degree and, who knows, maybe a crack at the next level of the game was in his future.

And if not, there was the health club he once told me he had dreams of running.

But according to court records, Owens developed a marijuana habit at college, a habit that led to meth. Then the beating.

“The way I was living was so God-awful,” Owens said prior to his sentencing. “It was cowardly, what I did.”

Confessions of a sober mind indeed.

But a crime is a crime.

Perhaps you will spend Thanksgiving today with a meth addict. Maybe you’ll smoke some reefer that gets the hunger up for your feast.

Somehow, I hope Owens’ story is shared at your table, or before the last drumstick is devoured this evening. As contrite as Owens seems to be, saving your life might be worth the sacrifice of his, and in turn, perhaps it saves another life you might one day endanger.

The sad part about this is that many won’t, or are too stupid to realize what risks they are making with this trash. The only thing you’re doing is making money for some sick puppy who might cut you a deal for it in the first place.

Our nation just approved the casual use of marijuana in two states. Some call it a progressive step to end another form of prohibition, following alcohol in the early half of the 20th century.

It’s scary that professionals do it, our high school and even elementary kids do it. It’s not just a low-life thing. But it doesn’t truly do much to enhance life, so it might as well be low.

I think if Owens could tell you himself, he’d call you foolish, stupid. Look at where it got him.

He can’t, so I will.

You want to risk joining him after a high that runs amok?

If not, give those who truly care about you something to be thankful for. Find something else to buzz you.