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Whitlock: It's obvious Olympic wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock has a relationship with the Father and her father

Op-ed
Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

I spent most of last night and this morning trying to figure out what's so different about Tamyra Mensah-Stock.

She's the 28-year-old black woman who won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling Tuesday and then celebrated like it was "1999." You know that faraway time The Artist Formerly Known As Prince used to sing about. Back then, Bill Clinton was president, Cher had the No. 1 song, "Believe." Ricky Martin was "Livin' La Vida Loca."

Two decades ago, it was commonplace for black American Olympians to wrap themselves in the flag and celebrate their homeland. Now we don't know what to expect. There's an expectation of some sort of anti-American protest.

American shot putter Raven Saunders won the silver medal and crossed her arms in an X above her head. She said she did it for oppressed people across the world. Saunders said that she and other athletes had been plotting ways to protest for two weeks over a group chat.

I don't think Tamyra Mensah-Stock was on that group text string. She's different. After winning her gold medal, she was overcome with joy. She honored God and celebrated her country.

"It's by the grace of God I'm able to even move my feet," she gushed. "I just leave it in his hands and I pray that all the practice, that the hell my coaches put me through pays off. And every time it does."

When a reporter asked her about the American flag draped over her body, she didn't hold back on her enthusiasm.

"It feels amazing. I love representing the U.S.," she said. "I freaking love living there. I love it, and I'm so happy I get to represent USA."

It's important you watch the entire interview. A written description does not do it justice. Her joy jumps through the television screen. You can feel her emotion and energy. Her authenticity exposes the robotic fraudulence of the protestors who plot their actions for weeks.

What makes Mensah-Stock different from Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, and so many of the other protesters?

It starts with her relationship with her father. Both of them. The one above and the one in the ground. Mensah-Stock enthusiastically professes a relationship with God. She has not chosen the secular path of her peers.

Her dad was her biggest fan. He died in a car accident driving home from one of her high school wrestling meets. She broke down when a reporter asked what her father would think of her gold medal performance.

The absence of your biological father -- or a bad relationship with him -- oftentimes creates a lifelong bitterness and cynicism. It's not true for everyone. But it is true.

Mensah-Stock's dad immigrated to America from Ghana. He came here to chase the American dream. He bought into this country and was rewarded for doing so. His children adopted his American spirit and values.

Broken families break the spirit.

LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick have and/or have no relationship with their biological fathers. We shouldn't be surprised that their view of America is ruled by cynicism and bitterness. Despite their economic riches, life has been unfair to them. There's no amount of money that can replace the love of a father and mother.

The lack of American pride is a byproduct of the breakdown of the nuclear family.

Mensah-Stock has modeled the behavior of her parents. She's created her own nuclear family. She's married to a wrestler from her college. She has an unwavering commitment to her immediate family. She said she's giving her Olympic prize money to her mom, so her mom can start a food truck business.

Mensah-Stock's parents laid an incredible foundation of support for their kids. That foundation launched a daughter all the way to the Olympics. It was awesome to see Mensah-Stock celebrate God, her dad, her mom, and her country.

That used to be commonplace for black athletes before we turned our backs on the family structure God prescribed.

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