The loss of a child makes the games we love mean less. This weekend Ohio lost one of its top prep athletes.

On Saturday afternoon, the Lima area lost one of it's premier athletes.  Ricky Matter, a freshman at Bluffton High School, was killed in a car accident while coming back from supporting friends at an area wrestling tournament.
Ricky was a phenom.  People have been waiting for years to see the accomplishments he was going to have.  His older sister, a senior on the OSU Lady Buckeyes hoop squad, has been saying for years that Ricky was going to be better than she was, and she was the D-3 player of the year while at Bluffton, and led the nation in 3-point shooting last year as a junior at OSU. 
Ricky and my son played on the same AAU team when they were younger.  The last two years, he played for the Ohio Stars, doing very well.  He was playing varsity this season as a freshman and was doing well with his team.  He was the starting quarterback on the football team and threw for the 6th most yards in the state last season (over 2500).  He also threw for the 5th most yards all-time in one game (over 500).  Ricky was a joy to watch and he was going to do great things.  Only God knows exactly what he was going to accomplish. 
Tylet Kindred, the driver and a good friend and teammate of Ricky's, is still hospitalized in Toledo, but should be released in a couple of days.  The other passenger, Kyle Roby, has been released and was at home earlier when I called.  He is doing OK, but he will forever remember when his friend was killed.  He now realizes that he is here for a reason.  "God has a purpose for my life, I just have to figure out what it is", he said.  I will call Kindred to see how he is doing when he is released.  Kindred and Roby played for ATAP in 2002.  These are two great kids with wonderful families, and they have lost one of their best friends.  Keep them in your prayers as well as the Matter family and the entire community.
When I received a phone call on Saturday from someone telling me they heard that it might be possible that Ricky Matter died in a car accident, I immediately called another family friend, Scott Nourse.  When he wasn't home, I called the Matter's home and someone else picked up the phone.  I knew then, that it was likely that I had heard the truth.  I talked to Mr. Matter and he confirmed my fears. 
I told him that Scott and I had just been talking about all the kids from that team.  He told me to "hug your kids and tell them you love them while you can".  It was an emotional conversation I still have trouble dealing with.  I told my son one of his friends was gone and he just asked "why".  Why?  Hmmm... the answer for that lies with the one who has all the answers for all the questions, even when we don't like the answers. 
If a kid who was! always in trouble and was using drugs or gang-banging died in a car accident, how much attention would we pay?  Would we say that he experienced cause and effect from the lifestyle he had chosen?  And how much would it ripple through a community, causing sadness throughout?  Exactly.  It's when we lose a wonderful kid like Ricky that we realize how precious life is, how short life is, and how much we need to show our kids that we love them. 
Ricky had an infectious smile that could make you feel like no problem could outperform his smile.  He could encourage anyone.  And you saw it when he did something on the athletic field, or if his sister hit a big three pointer, or if one of his teammates made a big play, or if his mom or dad cracked a joke, especially if it was corny!  He was a great son, student, athlete, and friend.  Ricky Matter was special, and we need to realize that the special ones never live as long as we need them! to. 
Please take Mr. Matter's advice - hug and kiss your children and tell them you love them while you still have them.  Tomorrow I will attend a funeral that I don't want to, and it will be held in a gym, which is right where Ricky would want it. 

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