Remembering Robin Williams, ‘Funniest Man Alive’ and sports fan

Actor Robin Williams died at his California home Monday.   The entertainer made the world laugh and touched the human spirit by his ability to transcend all genres of film as was evidenced by his variety of roles including Good Will Hunting, Jumanji, Ms. Doubtfire and Popeye.

While our main focus at NCAA Football Zone is sports, specifically College Football, it seems only fitting that we take a moment to remember also that Robin Williams also had a love for sports. Williams was a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan and season ticket holder. Williams also referenced sports in several of his stand up routines.

Williams also used his celebrity status for good off of the screen as he was committed to boosting the moral of our troops with the USO by entertaining them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Retired Army General Carter Ham, who accompanied him on many of the USO tours, says the comedian will long be fondly remembered by the servicemen and women.

“He had this uncanny ability to make an instantaneous personal connection whether he was talking to a young soldier one-on-one or whether he was talking to an audience of several thousand,” Ham said. “I think he earned the love and the respect of the uniformed services and I know that personally I’ll miss him dearly.”

Initial reports from law enforcement are that Williams at the age of 63 took his own life.  In addition to battling depression, Williams also struggled with cocaine and alcohol.  His media representative Mara Buxbaum shared,

“He has been battling severe depression of late.  This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Coroner investigators suspect “the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia,” according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff’s Office.

Robin Williams was dubbed “The Funniest Man Alive” by Entertainment Weekly in 1997.   Williams had the ability to bring audiences to laughter while grasping our hearts with compassion.  He had an uncanny knack for putting his own imaginative twist on many of his characters in both film and television. Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Sean Maguire, the therapist who counsels Matt Damon’s math genius in “Good Will Hunting” (1997). He also received 3 additional nominations for “The Fisher King” (1991), “Dead Poets Society” (1989) and “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1987).

President Barack Obama shared in a released statement,

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

A movie not often mentioned of his outside the circles of sports and true fans of the artist was ‘The Best of Times’.  The 1986 movie also starred Kurt Russell and tells the account of a banker (Jack) who is obsessed with what he considers the most shameful moment in his life: when he dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the final seconds of the 1972 high school football game between Taft and their arch rivals, Bakersfield.

Since that game, Jack has found it impossible to forget this event. He works for his father-in-law, The Colonel, Bakersfield’s biggest supporter, who seemingly reminds him of the event daily.

Thirteen years later, Jack coerces Reno (Kurt Russell), quarterback of the fateful game, and now a financially struggling garage owner in debt to Jack’s bank, into helping him replay the game. He convinces supporters in both towns to re-stage the game and at the critical moment Reno throws another perfect pass to Jack. This time Jack catches it, and Taft defeats Bakersfield.

We’ve all had those moments when we wanted to go back to redo or undo certain monumental sporting moments.  What a touching film revealing the struggle of precious moments.  The legend Robin Williams will be missed.