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Baron Batch: My Story From 30,000 Feet

Steelers rookie running back Baron Batch shares his inspirational story of poverty, pain and perseverance.

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Editor's Note: The following article has been contributed by Baron Batch, the Steelers' seventh-round pick in the 2011 Draft. In addition to being a talented running back, Batch is a published writer and photographer. In January, he traveled to Haiti to help the country's rebuilding efforts. This is his story, in his words, raw and unedited, accompanied by his own original photography.

This column isn’t directed for reader satisfaction—as strange as that sounds. I guess this column is more like personal therapy for me. Rarely do I ever know what I am going to write about before I write it. Typically, something happens during the week and bingo, I then know exactly what I need to write about, and this week has been no different.  I am writing this entire column in response to an email I just read. This is what the email said:

Dear Baron,

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I have a few questions and am asking for advice. How have you become so successful? How have you achieved what you have? I envy you, but you are also my hero. My family doesn’t have much. I don’t have the perfect life and the talents or skills that you have. I feel like the world is against me sometimes. My parents are divorced and my mom is sick. I have brothers and a sister that I have to take care of like I am a parent. I don’t think it’s fair.  I feel like I will rot in the town that I’m in. I feel like there is no way out. I feel like my life isn’t that important. Can you please email me back because that would be so cool! I would like to hear any advice that you could give. Thanks for reading this.

—Anonymous

Usually, I do all my writing from the comfy red couch that sits in the corner of Sugar Browns, my favorite coffee shop, but after reading that email, this column is written from a somewhat different location. My fingers keep slipping off of the screen of my iPhone because they are drenched with nervous sweat. I genuinely hate to fly, and hate might be an understatement.  It’s ironic that I am about to tell all of you a story during takeoff and through the course of a flight. I figure maybe writing will take my mind off of the fact I’m terrified, and yes, I know that all electronic devices are suppose to be turned off, but I refuse to believe having a phone on makes a difference. Too bad I’m not flying Southwest; I heard that they installed sunroofs in their planes as of two weeks ago, and will even leave it open during the flight! OK, I probably shouldn’t have made that joke, because I just freaked myself out. 

The story I’m about to disclose to you is hard for me to tell because I’ve never really told anyone more than bits and pieces. Few people know this story in its entirety. This is a story that consists of more turbulence and bumps than this flight out of Lubbock that is being tossed helplessly by the west Texas wind. This is a story that I have trouble telling, and honestly really don’t like to. However, after reading that email, I realized this is a story that many young people probably need to hear. This story is one that is close to my heart simply because it is my own. I guess one reason I have avoided this story for so long is because I have never wanted people to pity me. I guess its about time to explain some things.  Now that the plane has reached its cruising altitude, let's begin.

This is my story from 30,000 feet.

I don’t like to think about my childhood very much. There is a lot I can’t remember. My memory is like a puzzle with missing pieces. I guess a psychologist would say I have suppressed memories or something like that, which could be true. Maybe this column will be therapy for me. I’ve never really tried writing all my memories down until now. So let's start from the beginning.

I was born in Odessa, Texas, on December 21, 1987. My mom always told me I was her early Christmas present. Joyce Batch was beautiful and would always sing, she told me she loved me every opportunity she could. She would always say, "Baron, you have to have faith." At the time I had no idea what that meant, but looking back, she spoke those words into my soul. I distinctly remember that. I grew up in a large family, and we lived outside of town, and when I say outside of town, I mean 30 miles south of town between Midland and Odessa in the middle of nowhere off of county road 1787. The land we lived on was covered in mesquite trees and cactus. I was a typical boy who would collect bugs—and who knows what else—in jars. I grew up with three brothers and a sister. In chronological order from oldest to youngest this is how it goes: Bridgette, Brian, Baron, Brandon and Bryson. Yes I am the middle child, and, yes, all of our names start with the letter B.

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