Source: latimes.com | Re-Post Duerson Fund 5/10/2017 –
The son suffered his first injury when he lost a tooth on a Brentwood basketball court. He picked it up, threw it to the sidelines, and kept playing as the father cheered the greatest athlete he had ever seen.
Aidan Cullen was 8.
“I should have said, ‘Stop, are you OK?’” said Mark Cullen. “But I heard other parents saying, ‘Whoa, that’s such a tough kid.’ So I did nothing.”
The son once passed out at the end of a soccer game after suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. He was packed in ice and, a few hours later, played in another game while the father basked in the glory of his star.
Aidan Cullen was in middle school.
“I thought he had died, but then I was glad he kept playing,” said Mark Cullen. “Everybody cheered him so much, I felt like they were cheering for me. I loved it. I loved the power of it.”
Ten years later, that perception of stardom has fallen, the feeling of power is gone, and the only thing that Mark Cullen carries in his giant sports duffel bags is regret.
His son Aidan has been in almost constant pain for several years after being diagnosed with a disease partially caused by being pushed to play sports through injury and affliction. At one point he thought about suicide. Today he feels lucky if he can physically show up for high school baseball practice.