The moment two years ago Matt Bush realized he had run over Tony Tufano, he was certain that two lives had ended. Thankfully, Bush had it wrong. Tufano had sustained serious injuries after being knocked from his motorcycle and driven over, but he would live. Bush would go to prison, but not forever, after blowing his most recent "last chance," with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Bush, the top overall pick in 2004 of the Padres who has wasted more opportunities than anyone else ever since, still wants to play in the majors someday after he gets out of prison in October 2015. He won't have a bigger supporter than Tufano, which is a remarkable testament to the forgiveness possible within the human spirit.
A former teammate of Bush's now in journalism, Gabe Kapler, recently visited Bush in prison and also talked with Tufano, turning the conversations to a project for Fox Sports. In addition to the video above, Kapler wrote two posts — one focusing on Bush and, the other, on Tufano. Though both men will be forever linked, the visit with Tufano is far more intriguing.
We've heard from Bush before that "It'll never happen again, I swear," but alcoholism and bad choices have conspired to make those words ring hollow. But Tufano, who at 73 years old still is dealing with the after-effects of numerous injuries — and probably always will — has transcended being a victim into something else.
Tufano has fatherly qualities, having been there and done that. Bush has screwed up and is begging for that chance to prove that he's better than this. Tony isn't focused on the past. Instead, he takes the perspective of a mentor, one with the wisdom of someone who has been there before.
"It would be great if the kid got into education, got into business, got into anything, got back into sports, this might have been a blessing for him, for both of us."
I was curious what Mr. Tufano, who expressed the desire to sit with Bush one-on-one, would say to him. He was firm and frank in his delivery, yet understanding while he role-played with me.
"Yes, it started when you were 18. I know what I was like when I was 18. I just did wild things. But now you've got a chance to straighten your life out. I don't want to see you go down the road, 'Oh yeah, that's the guy that ran over the guy on the motorcycle.' I'd like to see him get back into sports. The press would jump on that."
That's an unlikely perspective from a person whose life nearly was ended by a DUI. Bush's recovery isn't only about him, it's about Tufano, too. It's another way for Tufano to heal from his injuries, possibly to give the entire ordeal a reason for happening. Perhaps it's what Bush will need, and didn't have before, to successfully drive him to stay sober and make it to the majors. It's not just about him, after all.
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