In 1986 I was lucky enough to marry my best friend and the love of my life, Sharlene “Charlie” Craig. I cherish that day not only because I found my soul mate but also because I had my dad standing next to me as my best man. As most of you know from the Olympics, my dad means the world to me. After we won the gold against Finland, I searched for him in the stands to share what I thought would be my greatest accomplishment. Little did I know that becoming a husband and father would be life’s greatest gifts.
To this day my father remains the man I love and respect above all other men. In my high school yearbook at Oliver Ames High School, Class of 1975, my life’s ambition reads – “To be half the man my father is.”
My father taught me that if I were to become a husband and a father, those would be the two roles that would be the most important in my life. He made sure I understood that beyond anything I have accomplished professionally or athletically, it is how I perform as a husband and father that would be the truest measure of what type of man that I would become. Leading by example, my father showed me what it meant to be a noble and honorable husband and father.
With my dad always in mind, I strive to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. Of course no one is perfect, but I have learned from my mistakes and they have made me a better person and who I am today.
When our first was born, we named him James Donald Craig, Donald being my father’s first name. Although my father never was able to meet JD, the nickname Charlie and I gave him, I knew that he would remind me of my dad everyday and carry out the legacy that he left behind.
It has been my life’s mission to teach my son what my father taught me. It was my dream that one day he would be able to look up to me the way I looked up to my father. Being a dad is hard; sometimes you wish you could just be their friend. But I knew that one day that he would understand that everything that I did was in his best interest.
As a father, you hope that when your son finds someone they want to share their life with she will be his “better half”. When JD introduced us to Janelle when they were only teenagers, we knew that it wouldn’t be long until she was officially part of our family.
When JD asked me to be his best man at their wedding, I knew that one of my biggest dreams was about to become a reality. Standing beside my son at his wedding, like my father was for mine, was something I hoped for so long but had never shared with anyone. Not only was it a honor and privilege; but that day symbolized that I had become the father that my dad always knew I could be, and my son looked up to me the way I looked up to my father.
JD and Janelle were married on September 3rd and I proudly served as JD’s best man.
It is now JD’s time to be a husband and one day a father. It is my hope and dream that he will continue the legacy that my dad created for me, and his grandfather created for him.