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One Member of Bulls Family who is Serving his Country
by Sam Smith
Posted on Nov 15
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
There was a great story at the United Center Saturday night and it didn’t have anything to do with Bulls-Pacers, but it had a lot to do with what a lot of American families have been going through the last several years, and this time it was the John Paxson family.
Paxson’s son, Ryan, was at the game, which was not that unusual for the son of the Bulls general manager and former player at Lake Forest High School and Olivet Nazarene U.
What was different was Ryan was dressed in his U.S. Marine uniform after graduation from Marine basic training at Camp Pendleton earlier this week and officially becoming a member of the nation’s most elite fighting corps.
"This last couple of days have been maybe the greatest days of our lives," said Paxson of he and wife, Caroline. "I don’t think sometimes people appreciate what these young people go through in Marine Corps training. We’re really proud, but he’s just one of so many young people to do this. But being our son we’re sitting here very, very proud of him."
Though many people have varied feelings about the wars in the Middle East, there is no question of the pride that swells in the sacrifices made by so many gallant young Americans.
Ryan Paxson is, as John says, just one, but his is another compelling story.
Ryan, 22, was in the middle of his third year in college last February, averaging double figures and starting on the basketball team when he came home one day and told his parents that he was joining the Marines. There was no trouble, with school, with the law, with a girl.
Ryan told his parents he’d been thinking about it for sometime, that as their son he’d been a child of privilege. He’d seen his father succeed with the Bulls and live in an environment that would make any kid envious.
"It’s time," he said, "to give something back."
You can only imagine what a parent starts thinking.
"As a parent, I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Did you ever think about saying he shouldn’t do this?’" Paxson related. "But it was presented in such a way you had to support him. I never thought of doing anything else. He wanted to make a commitment."
And during wartime.
"I guess, initially, it does cross your mind, the worst," Paxson conceded. "But it is the same for any family with someone in the military. It takes kids like Ryan to protect our country. We’ve been in full support mode from the day he told us and we’ve never wavered at all, really.
"The thing about Ryan that Caroline and I are most proud of is we felt he could have taken an easier path," said Paxson. "He told us when he decided to enlist that he felt he’d been given a lot of things in life and he felt he had to go out and earn some things on his own.
"You go out to that (graduation)," said Paxson, "and you are so proud of all the young men and women willing to do so much for their country. The graduation was unbelievable, the Marine culture and how it demands so much of young men who go in to earn that title."
Ryan’s younger brother, Drew, is at Ripon College in Wisconsin and the family is bursting with pride, like so many American families watching their children go off to serve. Ryan returns to Camp Pendleton after a stay at home for combat training and then goes to school to work in the military police and get an active duty assignment.
"I can see the confidence in him," says Paxson. "They just require such discipline. He definitely stands straighter and is in unbelievable physical shape. They are so disciplined and precise. It was a great couple of days for us to see, some of the best of our lives."
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors.