‘This is just where I belong’

When I was younger, I always dreamed of being an astronaut. In my teens, I considered becoming a professional soccer player, but I changed my mind after I realized how much training and dedication it would take. At the age of 17, I received a scholarship from a local university to study abroad, and I ended up studying in the UK for three years. After graduation, I returned to Singapore to work and live with my family. Life seemed to be going well, and I was content with my life.

As we all know, there are so many people who are in search of a better life. They do not have any definite plan. But they are always in search of their dream place, which is why I call them “fundamentalists”. Yes, I know it sounds derogatory, but I did not make it up. It has been termed that way by some researchers.

In May, an unfortunate shooting incident at a high school in Florida turned the world upside down. Days later, several students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became the latest victims of another school shooting when a gunman opened fire at the school, killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others.. Read more about this is where i belong and let us know what you think.

12. May 2021

Jeff Passan

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Author of the book The Hand: The billion-dollar mystery surrounding sports’ most valuable asset

This story contains a graphic description of a suicide attempt. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Things move fast for Drew Robinson, sometimes too fast, and on Saturday night the object approaching him with uncomfortable speed was a batted ball that flew into left field, where Drew was playing his third game for the Sacramento River Cats, a division of the San Francisco Giants.

Baseball isn’t as easy as it used to be, but that’s normal. When Drew was trying to adjust to life without his right eye, simple things like filling a cup of water were difficult. With the ball flying to Drew is the final test, another referendum on whether he belongs here. It can race past him and bounce off the wall, giving more credit to those who don’t see him performing a miracle.

Drew Robinson plays professional baseball with one eye, just over a year after he lost it in a suicide attempt. Thirteen months ago, Drew wasn’t sure if his life was worth living anymore, and now he’s trying to find peace in the game that helped bring him to his lowest point. A game rooted in failure and steeped in heartbreak. The game that attracted Drew and convinced him he had to play.

He needed it in times like these, another box to check. Three innings earlier, Drew recorded his first official win since the 24th. June 2019, but he’s been beating them at shows all spring. Not once during the comeback did Drew dive for a baseball. And then there was a shot from the left that quickly disappeared, and with six steps to go, he realized he had to dig in all the way to intercept the shot.

I was panicking, Drew said a day later. I doubt myself. I wonder if I’m reading it right.

Documentary E60 Alive: Drew Robinson’s story, premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and now available on ESPN+. Look now

He’s still doing it. Not as often as they used to, but the questions – about his path to the baseball circle or what drove him to attempt suicide – will never quite go away. The bullet didn’t eliminate his instinct to drag his brain to the darkest places. It only taught him that he had to learn to live with them.

And he dove. He jumped off his left foot, made a superman leap from the height of his 6’1 , 200 pounds, and literally took a leap of faith in front of his supportive family, fans who were excited to see him, and game-goers who cheered him on. He calculated that the greatness of what he could do outweighed the inconvenience of what he could not do. For months he preached to himself and anyone who would listen about the power of vulnerability, and now he lives by his own words.

And in Las Vegas, two miles physically and a million miles figuratively away from the house where he attempted suicide, Drew Robinson opened his glove and felt the bullet crawl into his hole. By the time he got up, the round was over, his mother, father, sister, brother and best friend were screaming and holding back tears.

Drew has already shed a lot of blood this week. It was confirmation that everything he had done to get here was worth it, of course, but it was more than that. The outfield is a lonely place: just you and acres of grass, no safety net, nothing to protect. It’s a place he hasn’t been in a long time, but he’s found that getting to know it has also helped him get used to a world that can be lonely and unforgiving. Lessons can be learned in the most amazing ways, and Drew began to realize that some of his most profound lessons were learned in the game.

Baseball, he says, has taught me many things without me realizing it.

After surviving a suicide attempt following a gunshot wound to the head, Drew Robinson is trying to return to pro baseball. Jeff Passan joins ESPN Daily to discuss his exclusive coverage of Robinson’s journey. Now, listen.

Even though he tried to give to others, Drew didn’t skimp on himself. The 17th. April 2020, the day after his suicide attempt, the first of four surgeries to repair his head, Drew is thinking about baseball. He did not yet know that the doctors would remove his right eye or that he would lose 20 pounds and most of his muscle. He knew he was beginning to wonder if he would play anymore.

Drew’s recalibration started with the simplest thing: a routine. Every morning when he wakes up, he drinks a big bottle of water and a green smoothie. Then he meditates and keeps a diary. He turns on Friends, makes breakfast and eats. He’s playing with his golden Ellie doll. Then he goes to the field and starts working.

While in Las Vegas that winter, Drew’s support system isolated him. If he needed to talk, his best friend Diane Angelova was there for him. As did his mother Renee and father Darryl, his sister Brittney and his brother Chad. Their relationship, strained over the years, has grown stronger. They spoke. They spent time together. They made their family a foundation on which Drew could build the next part of his life – baseball.

It was very special, said Drew’s best friend Diane Angelova, who sat with her mother, Renee Robinson, at Drew’s first game with the River Cats. This is a moment we were sure would not come. Bridget Bennett for ESPN.

Of course, nothing could have prepared him for this. There will be a big outfield this spring – Drew, alone, outside the cocoon he and his entourage have created, for the first time since April 2020. Life hits him hard every day.

That’s something you have to learn, Drew said. And it will be very uncomfortable and very difficult.

I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing, it’s very complicated. Even when I had two eyes, it was hard to play baseball. I don’t want to be a charity either. I’m trying to prove that I deserve this position. I try to strike a balance between appreciating things when they are bad, but also taking advantage of this incredible opportunity.

In early April, when his return began, Drew called Diane several times and said: I think I’m done. The beginning of spring did not go as planned. The Giants, with whom he signed through the 2020 season, saw a versatile outfielder in him and wanted him at shortstop, a position he hasn’t played regularly since his high school days. Between the constant errors and misses – Drew has struck out 102 batters in 100 major league games, so this is nothing new – skepticism begins to set in.

I found it much harder than baseball used to be, because I had a new level of insecurity. If I’m not perfect, I can get back up: I have one eye, I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here right now, Drew said. When I got home in early May, I started thinking about my next steps. What we’re about to do, basically.

Diane knew this side of him better than anyone. They dated for several years and were engaged until he called off the wedding in the early 2020s. She saw him one season in the minors where he hit .200 and another where he hit .198. She comforted him when he went from the major to the minor leagues. She still had faith in Drew, in the work he had done and that it would eventually pay off. His conviction encouraged him.

I’m just proof that if you focus on the right perspectives and the right things, you’ll see a touch of pure joy in life, Drew says. Bridget Bennett for ESPN.

The first game of the Giants’ minor league spring camp was held on the 12th. April. Drew got up early and arrived at the site at 6:40. He was often the first to arrive and saw the fact that at 29 years old he was older than almost everyone else in the camp as an opportunity to make a statement with his work. He regained all the muscle he had lost over the past year and looked imposing and lean. Twice the eyes, twice the work ethic.

He served as leadoff man and shortstop. In his first professional at bat since last March, in the most anticipated outfield appearance of his life, Drew hit a dribbler after a check swing. As he ran across the first base line, he cursed himself out loud.

I went where I’ve always been, Drew said after the game. When I returned to baseball in the past week and a half, I noticed that many old thinking habits reappeared. I’m really trying to focus on reducing the period of poor self-justification I’m in and getting back to a better, positive outlook and mindset.

This was not really a surprise. The last 12 months have been difficult for Drew. It was more than an attempt to reclaim baseball glory. He figured it out much faster than a reasonable person would have guessed with a left-handed hitter with no right eye. He took line drives during his first batting practice. From a drill to a pitcher, Drew had no trouble adjusting. He has hit home runs in his at-bats against major league level pitchers. He has worked with Bryce Harper and other big league players who live in Las Vegas.

But some days were harder than others. He had passive suicidal thoughts, a common occurrence among those who have survived a suicide attempt. I definitely doubted myself and what I was doing, whether it was real, whether I was fake, because I still have those thoughts, Drew said. But I think that’s what makes it so real, so powerful and so authentic.

Knowing that he survived, that he endured far worse than a check swing, a few errors and a few strikeouts, gave Drew courage during his early struggles in camp. So is the excitement of what is to come: the first anniversary of his death. Diane, Renee, Darryl, Brittney and Chad arrived on the 16th. April in Arizona and brought many gifts. Her presence was for the best, even if what Diane had done earlier in the week came close. She contacted Drew’s closest family and friends with a note and a request. Send him a video of everything you want to say to Drew.

Everyone responded. With stories full of gratitude and praise for his courage, admiration for his resilience and love for who he is. The video reminded Drew how incredible it is to be here, alive, let alone in spring training. They supported him as he began to make solid contact by remembering what it was like to be a ball carrier. On the 21st. In April there was the clearest sign: Zach Reininger, who played three seasons in Detroit, put up a slider. Drew swung over the fence into center field. Four days later, he hit another home run, but at nearly 450 feet. The Giants end the shortstop experiment and move Drew to the outfield, where he is much more comfortable. He asked Justin Bowe, a longtime player who is also in camp, to be his reporting partner and make sure his body language didn’t send the wrong signals.

My switches went off, Drew said. In the past 12 months, I realized I’ve been there before. It’s not exactly the same situation, environment or setting, but I have proof that I can overcome these things. It’s just one of those obstacles I have to overcome.

The 27th. In April, two days after Drew’s second home run, the Giants decided on their minor league roster. The team’s general manager, Kyle Haynes, called Drew off the field during practice. He wanted to tell her in person: Drew was hit by the cuts and will start the season in Triple-A.

Drew did his best not to hug Haynes. Doubt, fear, negativity – all for naught. Drew Robinson is officially a professional baseball player again. And smartly, with a glance at the River Cats’ roster, he knew what that meant: He will play his first regular season game in nearly two years in Las Vegas.

Drew never showed his pain and suffering, even in his most difficult days, when the pressure of Major League Baseball seemed overwhelming. Therefore, his suicide attempt came as a surprise to everyone who knew him. He was too good to hide his feelings. For the past 13 months, Drew has been trying to rid himself of this instinct. Emotions are not a weakness, they are a gift. And if it wasn’t for her, he would have finished 6th. May couldn’t appreciate the way he did.

It was day one for the River Cats, and Drew was doing his best to hold his own. He struck out eight and started in right field. He drank water and smoothies, meditated and journaled, played with Ellie and took her to the ballpark. He was training, hitting balls in the outfield and preparing for the deluge that would come his way.

When the announcer read out the lineups before the game, Drew got the loudest applause, more enthusiastic than the home team. Standing in the back row next to his teammates, Drew turns to his family. Diane’s gaze disturbed his stoicism. The tears ran down her face. He tried to play it cool.

Who the hell slices onions? he said loudly to his teammates.

During the anthem, his eyes sparkled again. On the way to the shelter, he saw Dr. Tina Elkins, an otolaryngologist, who reconstructed Drew’s eye socket with titanium plates and screws. He talked to Elkins and her husband, and when he left, Sacramento’s coach asked who it was.

One of the doctors who saved my life, Drew said.

For his first match, Drew overcame his emotions, nerves and fear. He wanted to enjoy the moment, something he had never done in the years he played baseball, so consumed was he by the impossible pursuit of perfection. He admired the sights, enjoyed the sounds, and breathed in the air even as he lost his sense of smell. He tucked the tread away with his feet. He was so absorbed in his own world, in the impossibility of his return, that he didn’t notice the catcher and the umpire move aside so the crowd could give him more applause. Everything happened so fast, and somehow he managed to slow down the process.

I almost cried three times, Diane said. I was very nervous. I wanted him to succeed, to be proud of himself. But as the days passed and I saw how comfortable he was, I was relieved that he could enjoy the moment and not have to stress. It was very unusual. This is a moment we were sure would not come.

The fact that the River Cats’ season is starting in Las Vegas has given Drew’s friends, family and even doctors the opportunity to witness his debut. Bridget Bennett for ESPN.

Drew struck out six batters. He also retired the other players in each of the next three at-bats. Still, he was optimistic after the match. You made a good presentation. He missed her. It’s baseball. It happens that you have one or two eyes.

I’m just proving that if you focus on the right perspectives and the right things, you can see a touch of pure joy in life, Drew says. And I think it’s a beautiful thing, and it’s a powerful thing. No matter how bad things seem in the moment, it’s not as important as what you have to do the next day, the next minute, to help yourself.

In the second game, Drew failed to score, then singled into leftfield, ending an 0-for-9 streak that had started. His family witnessed it all and after the third game he hugged Darryl, his father, a man who speaks little and cries even less. But not here, not now, not when vulnerability is something all Robinsons have embraced.

Don’t say anything, Darryl told Drew. And Drew isn’t. He didn’t need it.

For the RIVER CATS opener, the Giants asked Drew to speak on Zoom. He decided to have a brief chat with Amy Gutierrez, the Giants’ sideline reporter, and move on. Instead, he was told to limit his prepared remarks to 10 minutes if he had no objections, and that this meeting was an organization-wide meeting. This was his life now. People expected him to do uncomfortable things.

So he took a deep breath and thought about what he wanted to say. He thought about the last month, his escape from the bubble, his return to the real world. Drew likes to use the word powerful – about his story, his experiences, his life journey. It was strong. Not just what he told people during the session, but the realization that he was embarrassing himself and coming out on top. The 10 minutes went by unnoticed. They did not affect his routine and preparation. They reminded him that life and baseball need not be mutually exclusive. He wants to be Drew Robinson the ball carrier, yes, but also Drew Robinson the mental health defender.

I try very hard to rely on internal validation rather than external validation, Drew says. But no matter what people say, it’s good to have outside confirmation.

He gets so much out of it now, from a family who are proud of him, from people who draw strength from his story, from encounters like the one on Sunday morning when his manager Dave Brundage called him into his office. He asked Drew if he had thought about taking Ellie, his dog, on a trip. Brundage thought she was good for the team – her presence made everyone happier and more satisfied.

Drew has become a valued member of the Giants’ Triple-A team, as has his golden dog Ellie. Bridget Bennett for ESPN.

It was another form of affirmation. The Giants don’t consider Drew a charity, he’s now part of the organization. It’s not necessary at this point to know if he can prove competent enough to warrant a stay in Sacramento or even a return to the big leagues. It’s more like a symbiosis. Drew makes the Giants better. The Giants are making Drew better.

This is where I belong, he said. I feel like I have a lot of strength left, so this opportunity feels good.

I love baseball. Being able to keep playing the game I love with a new sense of appreciation – I can’t wait to see what that can do. People have encouraged me, believed in me, and helped me through dark times.

If it doesn’t work out, I just know it will. And that’s all it is – the belief in simplicity, that things will happen the way they’re supposed to happen, no matter what. And it’s one of those clichés I hated – everything happens for a reason, you end up where you’re supposed to be. But it’s a cliché for a reason. Because who would have thought that what I did last year at 16. April would lead me to all these new perspectives?

Tuesday night, two days after taking a leap of faith in his sixth game of the season, Drew was exactly where he needed to be: back on the field for the batter. That was the last one out against Las Vegas, second inning. He stares at the first pitch he sees just below the strike zone, adjusts his gloves for what appears to be a tap, takes a step back and swings the bat six times before Matt Milburn throws a thick, delicious fastball to the heart of the plate.

Those who were looking at their phones, seeking popcorn or distracted by stimuli in the stadium turned their heads toward the sound. It was a loud, distinctive sound of a bat. They saw the ball fly to right field – really fly. It’s not a linear drive that fell. This one looked like he had a date with the bullpen over the right field fence.

But the sound and sight of that moment could not convey how that moment felt. The feelings – in the stands, on the other side of the screens and especially on the field – were joyful, happy, grateful and amazed.

Thirteen months after police found him, after doctors cured him, after his family promised to take care of him, after he first considered playing baseball again – finally – Drew Robinson is walking the bases again. The slow kind of race.

The ball ended up in the bullpen, where Darryl later picked it up and handed it to his son. Drew mostly ran with his head down until his left foot hit the stove in the house. He turns to the stands, to Diane and her family, and with a smile visible on his face from the stands, he points his index finger at them. It was his, too.

He trotted to the dugout, where he sat down for a moment and returned after his next at bat, in which he doubled and the ball bounced off the wall a few feet from another home run. It was exactly the kind of night Drew had dreamed of during all those hours he’d spent training in the gym, in the garage, in the cage, and in the sun. The kind where there is no safety net and the world, which sometimes moves too fast, moves at the right speed.

The night you live for.Born and raised in New Zealand, Soo Chan started her career as an editor for a literary magazine, then moved on to a popular Hong Kong newspaper. In 2014, she was offered an opportunity to work on an English language blog for a Singaporean news outlet. Although she was intrigued by the opportunity, she couldn’t help but wonder: “Where exactly was this ‘continent’ I was heading to? And what would I do there?”. Read more about right where i belong meaning and let us know what you think.

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