, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

May 23, 2009

Dealing with son’s prison sentence only way I know

Bob West column for Sunday, May 24

Readers who turn to this space on Sundays looking to be entertained with a collection of odds and ends from the sports world will have to forgive a devastated dad for deviating from the norm. Sports moves to the back burner after you’ve spent a week in a courtroom and seen your son sentenced to 65 years in prison.

I’ve spent the past few days wrestling over whether to address Damon’s sad situation in a column and finally decided it was something I needed to do. Among the many reasons leading to my decision was an outpouring of love, prayers and compassion from family and friends, and from some folks Genie and I don’t even know.

These words on a card from Betty and Gene Scott sum it all up. “If you could listen to all the thoughts going out to you now, you’d hear a symphony of warmth and caring.”

So where do you start to explain how the high school quarterback, the All-American boy, the kid most everybody from his hometown really liked could end up breaking our hearts? In this case, the answer is a simple as two words — methamphetamine addiction.

That’s another reason I wanted to write this column. If I can reach one kid, one parent with the human tragedy crystal meth made of Damon West, it will be my greatest achievement as a writer. Hopefully I can connect with more than one because this insidious drug is all too available.

Anybody with concerns should go to the web site Jumping off the top of the lead page in bold letters is the quote, “The first thing people on methamphetamines lose is their common sense.” It gets more eye-opening from there.

Damon lost his common sense, his grasp of reality and eventually his freedom. He wasn’t the same person who left home 15 years ago with a football scholarship to North Texas, the same guy who as recently as 2004 was impressing heavyweights in the Democratic party as a fund raiser for presidential candidate Dick Gephardt.

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Bob West