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The Idle American
"Bigger Than Life..."
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 • Posted January 9, 2013

It was, hands down, the most remarkable athletic feat I’ve ever witnessed. The scene was Dallas’ American Airlines Center, where some 20,000 fans watched the Mavericks/Phoenix Suns NBA game, April 5, 2009.

They saw a blow-out win by 26 points—and the Mavs’ 140-point barrage could have been more. Memorable, too, was Josh Howard’s 71-foot shot that beat the halftime buzzer.

Moments later, however, an intermission feature drew greater applause. Fisher Floyd, a man from the stands in street clothes, hit a lay-up, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shots. Fisher’s “swishers,” made in 45 seconds, have never been duplicated. What are the odds?...

    *****

His feat has gone viral on “YouTube;” 5.5 million “hits”—some 3 million the first year. I found him to be engaging, gracious and caring during a phone conversation later. He politely answered questions, but seemed most interested in whether I saw him “blowing kisses to Lindsey,” his bride of a year. She was seated behind the Mavericks’ bench, where several players, unaware that the kisses were directed slightly above their heads, blew them back!

Friends—and he had many—describe him only in superlatives. He was captain of his district champion Highland Park High School basketball team and was the league’s offensive player of the year for 2000-2001. At the University of California-Santa Barbara, where he graduated with honors, he introduced a new game—Frisbees—played with tennis rules.

Friends and family agree that his specialty was making virtually everything competitive, always “edge-searching.” His adventurous spirit dates back to 1986, when Top Gun was a movie hit. Just four years old at the time, he was “hooked”—always probing, “what-iffing” and fixing whatever was broken….

    *****

Perhaps no one was ever more in love with life. His Christian principles and knack for making friends at warp speed were evident.

His checklist of “things to do” included flying in a fighter jet. A while back he won such a ride as the high bidder at a charity auction.

Dressed in aviation gear, he made three trips to a Lancaster airport for a flight with Noell Rather, himself a Highland Park High School graduate. (Rather flew 60+ missions in Vietnam and was a former Braniff pilot. He loved the Delfin L-29 aircraft he’d spent years restoring and frequently offered rides to charity benefactors.) Weather scrubbed the first two efforts, but Dec. 13 dawned bright and clear….

    *****

A friend accompanied Fisher to the airport. There were exchanges of phone texts until take-off and animated, first-hand descriptions were anticipated upon return.

But it was not to be. There were no second or third-hand descriptions, either, or any kind of distress signals prior to the crash of the two-seater plane in Kaufman County, where both men perished about a half-hour after take-off.

The tragedy is inexplicable. Again, what are the odds?...

    *****

Fisher Floyd’s memorial service was held Dec. 18 at Highland Park United Methodist Church, where he, his wife and two sons—Ryder, 2, and Hudson, 1—had planned to become members in January.

Real friends, it is said, are counted not by hand, but by heart. Fisher, a picture of humility whose spirit brought out the best in others, must have had a giant heart. It would have taken a facility the size of the AAC to contain the mass of mourners. Seating at the church accommodates about 1,000 people; some 1,600 came.

The family has received hundreds of condolences. One referenced Fisher’s being “kind, decent, happy.” It was signed “Averill Mitchell, usher, Sections 117-118, AAC.” Another mourner said Fisher made friends more quickly than anyone he’d ever known, and he was “an even better husband and father.”…

    *****

Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle was among the speakers. At the service—as well as at the Mavs’ game the same evening—he chose the champagne-soaked red tie he’d worn when Dallas won the 2011 NBA title in Miami, mentioning “it would never be worn again.” Fisher’s memory was further honored with a tribute preceding the game; at halftime, the historic video of his four “swishers” was shown.

At the funeral, sister-in-law Lisa Cheney Moore, offered a consoling thought—God called Fisher home to help welcome 20 children from Connecticut.

Much in life baffles, exceeding our understanding. We pray for clarity on the other side of the river….

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com

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