Photo by Danny Parker

Parker: Eric Berry does it yet again

Eric Berry represents an example for the rest of us to follow. It's time more started paying attention.

Just when you look up after lowering your head and shaking it in disbelief, Eric Berry strikes again.

While some are debating whether LeBron James or Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever, Berry is over here making everyone look bad.

Check this post via Facebook from Rebecca and Todd Mills, who are both Tennessee Vols fans and parents. Tip of the cap to them for being observant enough to share their story with us:

Todd and I had a rare evening out in downtown Knoxville tonight and saw Eric Berry at the restaurant we were at. He ordered food to go. Todd who is a huge football nut recognized him but did not say anything to him. As we were leaving Eric was in front of us carrying his to-go food. What happened next brought tears to my eyes. He delivered the food to 3 homeless people on the streets and then kneeled down and prayed with them. To see a professional athlete have such a respect for humanity is impressive! May he be blessed beyond measure for kindness and generosity! #newericberryfan

Dang it, EB. I’m trying to listen to baseball highlights while preparing for a Friday press conference on The Hill. Yet, here I am reading 107 words that immediately move me to tears and nudge me to throw my digits on a keyboard.

Whatever Carol and James Berry put in their son’s milk when he was a baby should be mass produced into an elixir for the rest of humanity.

That’s not a shot at the rest of us. I could use a vat of it myself. I’ve been to downtown Knoxville plenty of times. I’ve seen a portion of the homeless. Not once can I recall making it a point to provide them nourishment of any kind.

What’s even better about this story (one of many concerning EB) is that it wasn’t with NFL Films or local television or his agent following him with a camera. That’s him being a man stepping up and being a shining example. Roberto Clemente, Walter Payton, Pat Tillman…all of them would be proud of Berry.

Last time I heard the All-Pro safety and emotional leader of the Kansas City Chiefs speak, you guessed it, he was in front of a crowd in support of Tailgating Against Cancer, which was created in 2011 when Stephen Coleman’s three-year battle against Cancer was lost.

Berry addressed the crowd of donors and stuck around for some time to pose for pictures and sign autographs. He broke down the importance of donations to help educate doctors not only in present day but for the future.

“Yeah, we’re out here bidding on different things and trying to raise funds but essentially, you’re saving lives…you’re saving lives,” Berry told the crowd in Maryville in mid-May. “Yeah, it’s fun, we’re eating pizza, y’all got a few drinks and stuff like that, but you guys are really saving lives. That’s why I really respect the Coleman family because they’re using this platform to create a legacy for their son. I think that’s truly, truly amazing. So thank you.”

The crowd interrupted Berry with a loud applause, myself included. But I don’t know if any clapping, any ovation, any cheers or any “Eric-Berry!” chants will ever do the man and his soul justice.

“The only thing I can control," said Berry, who punched Hodgkin lymphoma in the face, "is my attitude and my effort and how I approach it every day and make the most out of those moments because in that situation, you don’t know if tomorrow is coming. You don’t know if the next 30 minutes is coming. But while we’re in this moment whether it’s your family, your friends, your loved ones, it doesn’t matter. Make it the best moment you can possibly make it and just stack those up repeatedly and you’ll have a great life or whatever it is you want to have.”

Not sure how we can ever repay Berry for showing so many that the fight against Cancer is winnable, for helping us recognize Inky Johnson’s heartfelt words or for simply giving us an example of greatness for which we should strive. I don’t know, maybe step in between him and a horse sometime (Don't bring it up to him but Berry deals with Equinophobia).

I’m jealous of the human being Eric Berry is. Jealous.

Listen to Berry speak for Tailgating Against Cancer

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