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Special Event

Bill Bradley Delivers Inspirational Message to Bronx High School

Aired March 6, 2000 - 9:41 a.m. ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live now to one of the boroughs in New York City, the Bronx, where candidate Bill Bradley is speaking to the Bronx High School for Law and Justice.


BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... they'd open their hands and the bird would fly away. And so they thought they had the hermit tricked, so they went out to the edge of town, they knocked on the door. The old hermit came to the door, and they said, tell me, oh hermit, if you're so wise, is this bird dead or alive. And the hermit looked at him and said, as you will, my children, as you will.

In other words, the hermit knew a little bit more than they did, and the teachers knew more than you do, and that adults know more than you do, and giving them that respect is, I think, a second important lesson, to work hard, to listen to those that are older than you are.

But the question might come in your own mind, well, why am I out there working so hard, why am I putting in all this time on my studies every day to try to get the best grade I can get? It might look like -- you say, why am I doing this? Well, I think the reason you should this is a lot -- there are a number of reasons. But one of them is, I think, and particularly in this school where one of the main reasons you're in this school is because a parent was willing to come here, somebody in your family was willing to come here and say, you're a good kid. And therefore, I think the thing to remember is that those who love you are watching you, and they're expecting the greatest from you. You say, love me, watch me, you mean my parents? Yes. But even beyond that.

And you probably already had this feeling, that those who love you are watching, they're expecting the greatest from you. And that would be maybe kids on the block. Oh, he goes to Law Government and Justice, I want to be like him, or, I want to be like her. That those who love you are watching and they're expecting the greatest from you.

And I'll tell you a little story to illustrate this, a story about a football player named Bill Caraway (ph) who played football a long time ago at Georgetown University, when they had a football team. And Bill Caraway had been on the team for four years, but he had never been in a game. And it was the last game of his last year in college. And so he went to the coach's house and he knocked on the door, and the coach came to the door. And he said: Coach, I've got to play tomorrow. I've made every practice, I've never missed a practice, but I've never been into a game, and this is my last chance. Could you let me get in that game tomorrow?

And the coach looked at him and said: Bill, I can't promise you anything, the conference championship is in the balance. I can't promise you.

Next day, game time came, the stadium was filled, even the temporary bleachers in the endzone were filled. The two teams took the field, began to fight back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Georgetown University at half time three points behind. In the second half, the coach called in all the football strategy and knowledge he knew to try to make something work; nothing would work, time was running out, and because time was running out Bill Caraway took his helmet and put it under his arm, started walking up and down the sideways in front of the coach in hopes that the coach would see him. Of course, the coach had to see him.

And when he saw him, this must have been his thinking: I can't gain a thing in the world by sending this inexperienced kid into the game, but I want to reward him for the hard way he's worked for me over the years and for his teammates. And so he sent Bill Caraway into the game as a halfback.

Time was running out. First play was a pass play for an end that didn't go. The second play was a run; it was blocked about three yards. Third play, they called a pass for Bill Caraway. And the quarterback took the snap from the center and went back into the pocket, prepared for the linemen, and looked down the field, and look at him as Bill Caraway had one step on his defender. So he let loose with a beautiful, spiraling pass. Bill did have a step up on his defender, he leapt into the air, he caught the ball, he fell into the endzone for the touchdown and so the story goes Georgetown University won the game and the championship.

But that's not the important thing of this story. The important thing of this story was when Bill Caraway was put down from the shoulders of the admiring fans, and the coach was put down from the shoulders of the admiring fans, the coach went directly to Bill Caraway's locker, where the little halfback had his foot up on a bench, taking off his shoes.

And the coach put a hand on his shoulder and said: Bill, in all my many years of coaching, I've never seen anyone succeed more gloriously than you did today. So tell me, Bill, straight forward. What was it that made you give 100 percent of all you possessed in order to win this game?

He said, well, Coach, unashamed -- he looked right into the coach's eyes -- he said: When I was born my mother died, and all through the years my father has wanted to me to do two things. The first thing he wanted me to do was to go to college and get an education, and I worked hard, said no to a lot of things, worked hard, and I'm going to graduate in a matter of months with honors. He said, the second thing that my father wanted me to do was to play football. And he said: You know, Coach, my father was a blind man, but a couple of weeks ago my father died and I new that today would be the first and only time that my father would ever have a chance to see me play football. So you see, Coach, I had to succeed, I had to succeed.

There were no two ways about it for Bill Caraway. He realized that the one who loved him was watching him and was expecting the greatest from him. And I say to you, each and every one of you, in the same spirit of Bill Caraway, that there are those who love you and who are watching you and who are expecting the greatest from you. And what is that love...

LIN: Former New Jersey senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley addressing the students at a Bronx high school, offering an inspirational message about staying in school and living up to expectations, but perhaps drawing parallels with the story of football player Bill Caraway's winning touchdown, an unlikely winner at that, in that particular game, perhaps drawing some parallels to his own campaign running for president. He is behind in virtually every state in tomorrow's primary race.


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