I wasn't sure if I was going to write again in my blog until next season, but after an unfortunate turn of events, I feel compelled to share some thoughts.
I recently filmed an episode for a sports series I’m working on called Beyond The Offseason. I wrote about it in my blog a few months ago. It’s a show about athletes giving back and making a difference. It was created to put athletes in a positive light since there are so many negative things happening in the sports world today. This particular episode featured a 12 year old boy with cerebral palsy and his best buddy, an NHL athlete. It was a beautiful story of friendship and hope. The athlete was Michael Del Zotto. Ironically, Michael was recently involved in a situation that not only hurt his reputation, but it also affected his career and personal life which in return, had an impact on Beyond The Offseason.
The reason I’m writing about this situation is because I have gotten emails, phone calls, tweets and messages from random people about the episode we did with Michael and Liam since the incident happened. Some were kind, but a lot of them were not so kind which is heartbreaking because the show was pure and innocent. There were people involved who were hurt so I felt the need to stand up for the integrity of the show and everyone involved in it. You would think people would have the decency to leave a young boy, his family and a project with heart out of this mess, but unfortunately that is not the case.
I won’t get into to details but all of this drama and pain was caused by a woman in the adult entertainment industry who made claims about the athlete and sent out numerous humiliating tweets about Del Zotto in a twitter blast over something very juvenile. It ended up destroying lives.
I had to ask myself “why”? Why would anyone do something like this? What kind of person is this woman? She accused the athlete of something so trivial. Did he really deserve public humiliation over this? Does anyone really deserve this? There were better ways to handle this situation.
My question to this woman who started everything is…Did you ever think for one second how many lives this would effect and how many people this would hurt?
Did you think for one second that it might damage his career? His family life? His friends? And most importantly, his friendship with a 12 year old boy living with cerebral palsy?
I decided to watch the video again of the episode we did with Michael and Liam to make sure that everything I saw and experienced that day was true. I found myself in tears. I saw a young NHL hockey player who truly cared about a little boy who had many struggles in his life. There was nothing phony about it. I was there. I saw the friendship between the two and also between the entire family with Michael, which is why it’s so heartbreaking to watch everything unfold and to watch this misunderstood athlete be on public display for humiliation and ridicule. He has been mocked, scorned, laughed at, made fun of and has been treated so unkind it makes my heart ache. I know a lot of athletes who have done much worse – they just chose to do it with people who weren't vindictive.
I was in tears because this beautiful story had been tarnished by a woman who did not care about anyone but herself the day she decided to get revenge. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Del Zotto is a great person. The little boy with cerebral palsy agrees and so do his parents. It was a very special day and as I got to know Michael and Liam better, I saw their friendship blossom and it touched my life and soul because this athlete meant every word he said and was one hundred percent genuine in everything he did.
But people don’t care. They just like to see the bad things in life. What a disappointing world we live in.
Del Zotto might have made a careless mistake, but it doesn't change his heart which is full of kindness and compassion. I think the biggest mistake he made was trusting a porn star to be his friend. I think we can all admit we've done some stupid things in our life, and we've all made bad choices, but if we learn and grow from them it makes us better people. No one is perfect. We have all done something we’re ashamed of or wish we could take back. Michael Del Zotto is a 24 year old NHL hockey player who started his career at a young age in New York City. I’m sure the spotlight and lifestyle got the best of him…it does to a lot of athletes. The difference is that he got involved with someone who chose to hurt him instead of help him.
A lot of young athletes today need help and guidance. It’s a big adjustment to play sports professionally. Many careers have been ruined from not being able to handle the fame, money and power. You know what would have been a better solution from this woman… to simply care about this young athlete and have some empathy instead of being the woman scorned. Maybe say to him “I think you need some help. Let me be a friend and help you figure out why you're doing this”. Not “I’m annoyed and I’m gonna throw you to the wolves”. But it sounds like she may have some problems of her own. We all do. I just don’t understand why people have to be so hateful. I think it all stems from loneliness and pain. I feel sorry for this woman and I feel sorry for what she did to Del Zotto. This incident should have never happened.
I hope we can all learn something from this. To all the men out there…please stop looking at women as objects. I know it’s tough to avoid when people in the adult entertainment industry like this woman prey on the lonely and make a living at being an object, and every add, TV show and magazine focuses on beauty, sex and scandal, but you have to know that there are some decent women out there who are more than just a pretty face or hot body. And girls, don’t lose your class and dignity. Don’t be so desperate for love and attention that you sacrifice your integrity or beliefs. It’s hard to keep up with the fantasy world that has been created in society, but just be yourself and love who you are and in return, the right person will love you back.
There’s more to life than just a pretty face, fame or money. We need to stop hurting each other and start loving and respecting each other more. Let this be a lesson to all of us.
Men…you need to have more respect for women. And women…you need to have more respect for yourselves.
And to anyone making negative comments to me about the episode, the little boy and his family or Michael, please stop. The goal at Beyond The Offseason was to tell an inspirational story with heart and that was accomplished.
No matter what is being said, Michael Del Zotto is still a good guy and Liam is a brave young boy who has many hopes and dreams and this is his friend. Lets not be hateful or hurtful to anyone involved. Here’s the video. It speaks for itself...