Evander Holyfield Is Down-to-Earth

A few minutes after my two sons and I were seated, one of my favorite boxers eased into the pew behind us.

A most memorable day in my life involving a brush with fame started as a very ordinary Sunday at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. Now, this story happened in February of 1993. That was before Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell became the spiritual adviser to President Bush and was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight.

Houston has nice weather the majority of the time, and this particular day was no different. A few minutes after my two sons and I were seated, one of my favorite boxers eased into the pew behind us. My youngest son, Bronwyn, who was seven years old, was sitting in my lap, and he kept turning around to look behind us. "Bronwyn, turn around and pay attention," I whispered. But Bronwyn was in awe of someone sitting behind us. Whoever it was was shaking his hand.

So I turned my head slightly and got a glimpse of someone who appeared to be Evander Holyfield. "Oh, my God!" is what I was thinking. I love this man. I am not really big on football and basketball, but I enjoy boxing. I got nervous, and the palms of my hands were starting to sweat. I could not understand why I was feeling so star-struck. I have met several famous people and have never felt on the verge of losing my composure. I looked over at my older son, Matthew. He was his usual cool self with a "so what?" look on his face.

While the church service continued, I had trouble focusing on the sermon. I don't even remember what the topic was. It took every ounce of my strength not to turn around again. I knew that Mr. Holyfield came to worship and probably did not want to be acknowledged or sign autographs on this holy day. It was soothing to hear him so into the sermon. He had missed the congregational reciting of the "Prayer of Praise" and "Affirmation of Faith," but he got the spiritual feeding of the word. Every now and then, he said, "Amen."

After the doxology and the sending forth of the people, Mr. Holyfield was attentive to Bronwyn. As we all were exiting the pews, I thought to myself, "This may be a one-time opportunity to meet and greet one of my favorite famous people. Don't let this moment pass you by."

So we exchanged greetings, and he autographed my church bulletin with "Holyfield, Phil. 4:13." He was so pleasant, fan-friendly, and just plain down-to-earth. In my book, he is truly "the Real Deal Holyfield."

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