In one of the more heart-warming, heart-breaking stories on this Valentine’s Day, Toledo defensive lineman Ben Pike ended his football career early to take care of his fiancee Ashlee Barrett, who is currently in a battle with leukemia.
Pike had a year of eligibility left, but already earned his degree. From Cleveland.com:
When Pike’s fiancee, Ashlee Barrett, learned in April 2012 she was battling leukemia, Pike began to prepare for the end of his football career at the University of Toledo. Barrett, a former Toledo basketball player, already had graduated and was back in her hometown of St. Louis, teaching second grade. Pike wanted to be with her as she navigated the long road of chemotherapy and recovery.
The article states that Pike was coming off a career year in 2012, and thus, one final year would’ve furthered his football career. Alas, the love of his fiancee over-powered his love for football. More from Cleveland.com:
“I know in some people’s terms, he’s giving up things,” said Becky Pike, Ben’s mother. “But he’s really not giving up. He’s not giving up anything. He’s really fighting for life. And he’s just turned his forces to he’s going to win a battle for life instead of winning on the football field.”
In essence, Pike put his personal life, his romantic relationship, before football. His mother notes that while many think he’s turning down a lot, the Pike family seems to understand that he’s embracing what matters most in return for something he worked his entire life for.
We suggest you read the whole thing, because it’s truly inspiring, tear-jerking, and maddening. Empathizing with Pike is taxing, but in the end, we’re sure he made the right choice, choosing the love of his life over football.
Happy Valentine’s Day.