Kevin McHale – a father’s loss
When I saw the report on Sunday about the death of Sasha McHale, I was shocked and saddened. My mind flashed back to the days I covered her dad, Kevin McHale, as a player with the Celtics. Those were the days of the original “Big Three.” Larry Bird did his talking on the court, Robert “Chief” Parish was silent, but deadly, and Kevin kept everyone in stitches.
When Kevin McHale held court after a practice or a game, you knew it was going to be good. The man had a way with words- and a genuine, personable nature. It was easy to see he came from the Midwest where everyone is just so darn friendly.
McHale was a proud family man too. He and his wife Lynn have been married for 30 years. They started their big family back in McHale’s basketball hey day. Five children is a good sized family by most standards; it’s a huge family for a young professional athlete.
When I was pregnant with my first child in 1991, Sasha McHale was a one-year-old with a bunch of older siblings, and her dad was an expert on all things “baby.”
It was unusual enough back in those days to see a female sports reporter covering an NBA team, but to see a “pregnant” female sports reporter was beyond. McHale just couldn’t help himself as he paraded around in front of me with a basketball stuck up his jersey after practice one day. It was hilarious. Even Marv Albert made mention of it on the next national telecast.
McHale offered unsolicited advice on how to calm a screaming baby. I’ll never forget the day he told me about the power of a pacifier. He said they were the best invention ever. Then he went on to say how first-time parents sterilize the pacifier when it falls of the floor, second-time parents just rinse them off, and by the third kid, you learn just to stick them in your ears so you don’t hear the crying. Spoken like a true expert, and now as a mother of three, I can say he was exactly right.
I worked 25 years covering pro athletes in every sport, and went through three pregnancies doing it. Kevin McHale was the only athlete to offer parental advice. I will admire him for it always.
My heart is breaking for a man that made me laugh so much. My prayers go out to Kevin, Lynn and their four children.
As parents, we just never know what lies around the bend, and how we would ever deal with the death of our child. It’s a sadness that no mother or father should have to bear, but so many do.
Kevin McHale made it clear his kids were his true pride and joy like every great father does.