Colin has been a member of my extended family for about 15 years, and I think I first met him when he was a second-grader at Gesu School in Toledo. I used to be a regular volunteer for lunchtime playground duties, and I recall playing basketball with Colin and his friends many times.
Always that good-natured smack talk on the court, that kid.
When I was a retail business owner, Colin and his brothers used to deliver flyers for me door-to-door in the neighborhood in which they lived. I tried to be as much of a role model as I could for Colin and his brothers, though in retrospect I wish I had found more time to spend with him. He spent quite a few nights at our house, including a few days during a rough stretch when he was having some family troubles that a short break helped solve.
Colin's mom Jeannine and his dad Mike split up many years ago, and while the family had its share of struggles, there was a lot of love in that home on Willys Parkway. I had a special fondness for the fun-loving Colin, who shared my passion for sports and who always seemed to be smiling.
Over the past few years I saw less of Colin as he ventured out into the adult world. Yet whenever our paths crossed at a family function, he always greeted me with a firm handshake, that infectious grin, and a "Hey, Mr. Brooks!" It is difficult to reconcile my recent memories of the grown-up Colin with the fact that he died from gunshot wounds this morning.
"Please don't let me die."
These are among Colin's last words as he lay bleeding on the front porch of a Springfield Township man. It was quite painful for me to read the account of Colin stumbling to the door asking for help from a stranger.
More than anything I wish I could have crossed paths with Colin yesterday, somehow altering the date with death to which he traveled. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, as they say, and none of this matters now.
I hope to one day shoot hoops with you again, Colin. You may have a great jump shot, but I will always be able to block any bricks you heave up there, kid. Remember, I am 6'5" tall, and you are just a 12-year-old with dreams of the NBA, and I will swat your shots like they were one-legged gnats.
At least that's the image in my head. Goodbye, Colin Fisher, and may you rest in eternal peace until we get a rematch on the Parquet Floor in the Sky.