When I was eight years old my uncle Orlando came to me and said “kid, you’re so smart, don’t waste it. Read something every day for the rest of your life, and you won’t regret it”. Man, Uncle O was just the best. He was really tall, he was really funny, he was really handsome, and he was the smartest man I’ve ever been around.
I decided to follow his advice and asked my mom to buy some books, but we were poor like most families in Brazil and didn’t have any money to buy books, so I went to the local library and found out I could take books for free as long as I returned them in less than seven days. So I started reading everything as quickly as I could: fiction, science, history, sports, all of it. I don’t remember much from those books anymore, but I know how it felt to learn so many things as I grew up.
Read something every day for the rest of your life, and you won’t regret it.
And I loved reading so much that I decided to read books in English to try and learn a second language because why not, and then I learned the language and became good enough to make a living using that language to cover the sports team I love, a team I first learned about from one of the books I read as a kid because of Uncle O. Here’s the funny part: Uncle O HATES sports and constantly told me that I watched too much football and I should be reading more. He was a little more understanding two years ago when I told him I was getting paid to watch a lot of football.
Uncle O died on Friday. Cancer, you stupid idiot. I really wanted to see him one last time, but he lived in a different state that’s really far from home and I had a decision to make: go to the funeral or stay home and cover Barcelona vs Mallorca. I couldn’t sleep trying to decide, but I ultimately did: I chose the game, because not one person in the world, not even my mother, is prouder of me than Uncle O for having this job and I know he’d be really, really disappointed at me for not doing it. Barcelona vs Mallorca will forever be the best game I’ve ever covered, just because I did it for Uncle O.
I’ll keep reading something every day for the rest of my life. I will never regret it. And I will never forget you, Uncle O. Rest in peace.