Scott Hamilton sends the class of 2004 off with a heartfelt personal message.
by David Maley
"I'm a short, bald, over-the-hill figure skater who had to negotiate his high school diploma," the five-foot-four, 115-pound Scott Hamilton told his audience of new graduates and their guests. "You think I'm going to impart wisdom?"
This was the prelude to Hamilton's message of embracing adversity and converting it into strength. In recounting the touchstone events of his life, the Olympic gold medalist and winner of four consecutive world and national figure skating championships revealed his own encounters with hard times. An adopted child, he was stricken by a malady that stopped him from growing for four years. He took up skating when medical treatments failed.
"I was the shortest, the weakest, the frailest," Hamilton said. "But skating gave me a way of building self-esteem." He began working his way toward the top ranks of figure skating. When he was 18, his mother was diagnosed with the breast cancer that would eventually take her life. Hamilton decided to take the strength and dignity she had shown through the course of her disease and apply it to his skating. The result was a stunning series of triumphs that led to a gold medal at the 1984 winter games in Sarajevo.