Tommy Keith

by Matt Keith from Virginia Beach

When I was just two years old, Tommy Keith opened his doors to my mother and me when we were on the brink of homelessness. My biological father had abandoned us, leaving my mother with no job, no car, a house she could not afford, and a two-year-old child. Luckily, our neighbor had a brother-in-law who had a house and was looking for a roommate. What our neighbor's brother-in-law, Tommy Keith, thought of as a roommate was a male who would help him pay the bills; however, upon hearing my mother's story, he found the compassion in his heart to take us in, knowing that she would not be able to help him pay the bills, she would have to be driven everywhere because she had no car, and that she had a kid who was going through the time of his life known as the "troublesome two's." Thirteen years later, when I was a sophomore in high school, he married my mother, and legally adopted me as his own son.

From the moment Tommy stepped into my life, he did everything for me. He used to "throw me to the moon" over and over again, wrestle with me for hours, and chase me around the house until my mother would come out and tell me to stop bugging him. I know that he would have kept going for hours longer each time, just to make me happy. He taught me how to mow the lawn, how to play sports, and most importantly, how to be a man.

When I was three years old, he introduced me to the world of athletics. My dad taught me how to throw and hit a baseball by playing catch with me for hours on the weekends. He bought me a basketball hoop for my sixth birthday that he spent an entire day putting up. Of course, I wanted to play on it right when it was ready, so without resting at all, he taught me how to dribble a ball and how to shoot hoops. I remember him refusing to let me quit no matter how frustrated I became. Every weekend for a month, he took me to a public park and played basketball with me for hours until I not only grasped how to play basketball, but also got joy out of playing it. It must have been extremely frustrating to teach a young child to play sports. This shows his strength and perseverance. Without him I probably never would have learned any athletic skills, because without Tommy Keith, I would have had no one in my life to teach them to me. He coached every baseball team I played on until I went to high school, and he always coached me after my games in the other sports I played, because he wanted me to perform at my best level possible.

I have never once heard anyone say anything bad about the character of my father. He has never compromised his integrity for anything, and he has always put others before himself. This shows that my dad is a man of honor and that he possesses a very high level of respect for others. For over twenty years, my dad has carried Keith Enterprises, the family business, on his back. He has worked 80-100 hours a week without collecting a dime of overtime pay; and, he has done this without publicizing it at all. This shows my father's humility and modesty. One of the chief reasons my father does this is not for himself, but instead, because without him, the business would fall apart, and, as a result, his siblings and their children would be without health and a steady source of income. Furthermore, he never complains about being underappreciated and overworked.

My life story started off like every tragic story you hear of about a problem child who was destined for failure from the day he was born. My biological father abandoned me at a very young age. My mother and I were living in a very bad neighborhood in a house, that, alone, she could not afford, and we had just moved into the area, so my mother had very few friends. It is solely because of Tommy Keith that I did not turn into one of those kids that everyone feels sorry for, but that nobody has the courage to reach out to and lend a helping hand. He never had to take my mother and me into his home. He never had to step in and become my father. He never had to work countless hours a week for the family business without ever collecting overtime pay. Tommy Keith, my father, did and does these things because he is much more than a man. He is, in every sense of the word, a hero.

Page created on 1/11/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/5/2017 11:20:32 PM

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