I’m honored to speak in support of Drew Silvern Education Fund. I was fortunate to receive financial aid to go to UCLA and UC Berkeley, and feel a special desire to give back. I applaud the efforts of the Board to find worthy recipients and to make it easy for me to pay back that debt.
I’m here to talk about Drew. Drew and I were friends and high school basketball teammates for 2 years. I wouldn’t call him a close friend; that’s just the way it is sometimes with people you know at that age. I didn’t have any contact with him after High School, something I regret. But Drew was someone I admired and respected very much. He was a dream teammate. We played the same position –forward – on a team filled with great guards. Drew had a tough job – typically going up against bigger and stronger players. He was creative and scrappy. A brilliant passer who made his teammates better. I didn’t play much on a team with a challenging coach and some tough personalities. Drew was a quiet and effective leader who helped calm a nervous guy (me) on the court. I always felt he had my back. He also had a great, wry sense of humor. He teased me very effectively in a good natured way and made me feel valued even as a bench player. The lessons I learned playing on a team with Drew I carry with me today in my job and my life. Work hard, be creative, maintain a sense of humor, value and help those around you fulfill their potential.
Our class had the wisdom to anoint Drew as “Most Likely to Succeed.” It struck me as an unusual choice at the time. Not because he didn’t deserve it – he was very bright, athletic, charismatic, and universally respected. It’s just that Drew was not someone with an obvious ambition for money or classic success. He was actually a fairly quiet, introspective, even shy person at times. So, I think what our class collectively determined was that Drew was most likely to be significant, that Drew would do something meaningful, and be a leader and success in whatever he chose to do.
As part of my preparation for speaking, I read all of Drew’s articles that he published about his illness. It was a moving and life affirming experience. First of all, putting aside the terrible pain his early passing caused his family, we lost an outstanding writer. Drew wrote beautiful, clean, strikingly honest prose. It flowed beautifully and took his many readers on a journey that told an individual story, but one that could be related to by anyone. He truly had a gift. Reading those pieces in a single sitting gave me the privilege of understanding the young man who I knew only at a relatively early stage of life. It brought me to tears. I always saw a deeper, even sad, side to Drew, but never had any real insight into why until I read his writings.
I learned that we shared difficult fathers, amazing, loving mothers, and big brothers who challenged us and influenced our lives. I appreciated how the admiration of his peers and the expectations of them and his family placed a burden on him. I can imagine how difficult it was for Drew to abandon his planned medical career to become a writer and journalist. But we should all be thankful for the courage he showed in pursuing his true dream. He chose the right career and turned a terrible health ordeal that he endured for years into something that would touch and inspire others. Drew’s beautiful writing, insight, and honesty elevated his illness into a series of life lessons. If I could say something to Drew now, I’d say that I was proud of him, and that I, and all who knew him, admired and respected him. And that is a wonderful legacy for anyone. Given Drew’s work as an education writer, this scholarship fund is a worthy tribute to a great person, and one that I’m proud to support.
Daniel S. Floyd
Here’s the link to the Fiesta Photos: http://drewsilvernedfund.org/fiesta-fundraiser-2013/