The first time Matt threatened to leave, he said he didn't feel like he belonged here at Northwestern--he was struggling in his classes, the social scene is non-existent here at NU (unless you're a beer-guzzling frat boy) and those who are sociable are not the type of people he chose to align himself with. He missed his friends back in Pekin, IL. He was just plain homesick. From day one, I made it my responsibility to see to it that Matt felt welcomed here at NU and I regularly invited him on "burrito runs" to El Norte, movies, dinner and whatever else Evan and I could think of--but he always declined, usually because he was returning home for the weekend (he lives about 3.5 hours away in Pekin, IL) to be with his mother. I didn't let that stop me. There was something special about Matt Moran--I could feel it.
After much talking-to by his roomie (and team manager) Keith Peshke and an afternoon with Assistant Coach Paul Swanson, Matt agreed to at least stick it out until Winter Quarter just to see if things turned around for him.
His girlfriend came to visit until Monday, but having her around brought back too many memories of the way things were. He began to long for his high school days when he was the big man on campus, where everybody thought he was a god and where he could dominate on the court without even trying. Matt was featured in The Daily Northwestern just three short days ago with a big-ol' title blazing across the page Moran is the Man, but his first two outings in the Big10 were a bit rougher than he had anticipated and "that voice" began to call from within. Matt somehow thought he could have what once was just by going back home--he was living in the past and didn't realize that all of his friends are now in college--the old days are gone and better left alone. There was no convincing Matt of this; his mind was already made up by the time he made his announcement. Matt let his feelings for a woman and the days of old override any sense he had and threw away so much that he could have become. It's an age-old scenario: Adam had this problem with Eve, Samson had this problem with Deliliah. Just goes to show that if we don't learn from the past, we are condemned to repeat it.
Matt didn't know what he was going to do when he got back home. He said he'd probably attend Bradley University (about 15 min. away from his house) and play there. He didn't care that he would be throwing away two years of eligibility. He didn't care that he'd be throwing away a Northwestern education. He didn't even care that Bradley hadn't even guaranteed him a spot on their team: "I'll take that chance" he said. He just wanted to go home. Keith mentioned something to me about Matt getting a job at the local K-Mart and my heart just sank. From the Big10 to K-Mart--what a waste of talent.
Matt gave up, and that is something that I will never understand. He gave up on our team, leaving us high-and-dry. He gave up on his education. He gave up on a bright future playing a sport he loves so much. He gave up on his friends here at NU. He gave up on all that his father wanted him to be. But what hurts me the most is that he gave up on himself...it hurts me so much that it brought me to tears. I feel as if my own brother had just committed suicide and I can't do a thing to bring him back...no one can.
With a heavy heart I wish Matt Moran nothing but happiness in his life to come. I cannot bring him back, I can only hope and pray that he will learn from this experience and never again repeat it. I hope that he learns to look his trials and tribulations in the eye and not use this as a precedent for the rest of his life. For if he doesn't, the World is going to swallow him whole.
Goodbye Matt Moran, you will always hold a special place in my heart and we all will miss you dearly.