Sio Moore was given a second chance at life. Not everyone does, just look at yesterdays tragedy for an example of two athletes that weren't granted that luxury. Texas A&M redshirt freshman Polo Manukainiu and Utah incoming freshman recruit Gaius "Keio" Vaenuku lost their lives in a car crash yesterday. Sadly all we can do at moments like this is let them truly remind us of how lucky we are to be alive.
Sio doesn't need the reminder even if some of us do forget how lucky we are from time to time. No, Sio Moore already lives his life knowing how close it was to being taken away. He has used his near death experience as motivation, always remembering how just a shake of his head could have taken his life.
Moore' s family is originally from Liberia, a country torn by a Civil War that got so bad that his parents migrated to the US in 1990. Ironically they took him from a true war zone in Liberia, to one that he put himself squarely in the middle of by associating with the wrong crowd.
Sio knows now that the people he was with were not who he belonged around. He was risking himself by being in the wrong places at the wrong times and it took a near death experience to awaken his inner warrior. He was just 14 and at a party that had just been shutdown. It was here where he had his moment of change. It came from a gunman firing at the back of his head as he fled for his life.
"I wasn’t hanging around the right people," Moore told New Haven Register columnist Chip Malafronte "I was getting myself into situations I shouldn’t have been in. It took a near-death event for me to realize the path I was going down was the wrong one."
"A bullet went right by my right ear and hit a car next to me. That haunted me for a good while. I kept thinking about it. What if I turned around at the wrong time? That bullet would have hit me in the head."
After that day Sio stopped hanging out with that crowd, he realized he must live better, and he uprooted himself on his own to make his desire for a better life a reality. He picked up the phone and he called his sister Tiplah Broadnax who is 19 years his senior and her husband Grady. He asked them if he could live with them, and then Sio promptly moved many miles away from where that speeding bullet almost took his life.
In and interview with our own Levi Damien recently, Sio was asked about that moment. Its easy to see what we all like so much about Moore when you read his response.
"Yeah, man. 100 percent. My life could have been changed multiple times. That was only once. I had Civil War broken out in 1990, I would have never came to the U.S. There are so many things that I'm thankful for, blessings and things around me."
Though the attempt at his life was plenty enough of a life changing event to change Sio deep within his soul, it would still not be all that he would face. Even after he made his way out of the life he was living and onto Connecticut University's fooball roster the fates would continue to test him.
The new test would come at the expense of another young man who was cut down mercilessly and unjustly, though this was no accident like what took the lives of Polo and Keio. He was a teammate, a leader of the Husky defense, and a friend who was succeeding at life in a way few are fortunate enough to experience. The test would come at the expense of UConn DB Jasper Howard, who was stabbed to death in a senseless crime that happened on campus in 2009.
Now Sio Moore lives life to the absolute fullest. He carries a reminder of his friend Jasper with him everywhere, he has a tattoo in memory of him across his mid-section in the same area Howard was stabbed. Its another reminder of the pain he has gone through that has strengthened his resolve, the same as another tattoo that depicts his life without his father.
Though those tattoos remind him of the pain he felt, there is also hope and love deeply involved in them. The hope in the tattoo of Jasper is the hope of honoring his lost friend, the hope of living his life in a way that would make Jasper proud. Its a reminder to never again take his life for granted, which is a hope that we could all use instilled in us.
The tattoo about his father has a man and a boy standing next to each other with a space between their reached out hands, which Sio says is to symbolize his non-relationship with his own dad. The hope is there though still because he plans on uniting the hands the day he has a child. The tattoo is there to remind himself to be a better father than the one he had, which is a hope that many people understand more than words can express.
Seeing the strength of Sio's commitment to life is what so many of us are drawn to. We don't know yet if he will be able to play in the NFL, but he gives every reason there is to believe he can. He is the change we need in this franchise and the hope we all have for the Raiders future. Its a lot of pressure but it feels right to put it on Moore's shoulders. After all, his life has shown that he is already a man that refuses to break.