Tampa Bay Rays Help with a Special Military Homecoming

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And just when you thought humanity couldn’t be saved the Tampa Bay Rays jump in to seize the day.

You could see the nervous smile on nine-year-old Alayna Adams as she stepped up to the pitcher’s mound to toss out the first pitch of the Rays game last night. To many of the fans in attendance it was just another first pitch. To Alayna it was a special moment to be representing the USO and her dad, Lt. Col. Will Adams who has been in Afghanistan for the past two years serving our country.

But as her pitch bounced a few times to home plate and the catcher scooped it up, Alayna, her mom, Dana Adams, and the crowd began to realize it was something more than your average first pitch.

If you are not in tears right now you simply don’t have a heart. The thought of this man in his life and death struggle for two years so that the rest of us could argue over meaningless issues freely is overwhelming. But the images of his daughter and wife running to his arms as he took off the catcher’s mask is simply amazing. It is the definition of sacrifice and love all wrapped up in one epic moment.

Homecomings like these happen all over the US each and every day. As the rest of us grumble about politics, the human element of family is lost in the debate. But thanks to the Rays, we are all reminded the peace that comes with holding those that matter the most to us in our arms.

On behalf of the entire nation, thank you Tampa Bay. You blessed us all with this surprise homecoming. And thank you Lt. Col. Adams for all you do to keep us free and letting us share this amazing moment with you and your family.


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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