War Hero: Mr. T

I seriously pity the fool who doesn't like Mr. T. One of the few heroes from my childhood who has remained consistently awesome, Mr. T threw out the first pitch and sang the 7th inning stretch on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field. Mr. T isn't afraid to show his love for America, as evidenced by his wardrobe for the day.

Born Laurence Tureaud in Chicago, Mr. T would serve as an MP in the Army before becoming a bouncer and bodyguard for luminaries such as Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Steve McQueen, among others. Mr. T appeared as Clubber Lang in the third Rocky movie, which was his big break. I didn't see that film until after seeing Mr. T as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team, so I always enjoyed the first fight in the movie, where Mr. T beats holy hell out of Rocky, more so than the final fight, in which he loses. Yeah right. Like Mr. T could ever be beaten down by the Italian Midget.

Like most males of my generation, The A-Team was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. I was heartbroken when I figured out that I would never grow up to be a large scary-looking black guy. ( I still want that kick ass van he drove the team around in. My wife has thus far refused.) I also watched the Mr. T cartoon, in which he and a bunch of goober kids went around solving mysteries. It seemed like Shakespeare at the time. Ah, the 80's.

In 1995, Mr. T was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma, one of the nastiest types of cancer. He refused to go down without a fight and now spends a great deal of his time visiting cancer wards, serving as an inspiration to those battling the disease. After Hurricane Katrina, he stopped wearing his gold chains and has donated money and clothing to the victims of the disaster. He's one of the few born again Christians that I can stand listening to. Seriously, who's gonna tell Mr. T to shut up about Jesus already? He talks the talk and walks the walk, so you've gotta applaud him for that.

On the air with Len and Bob the other night, Mr. T was funny and personable. To some he may be a forgotten 80's icon or a parody of sorts, but I always get a kick out of seeing him, no matter the venue. Maybe it's an act, but he comes off as a genuinely good guy, which in this day and age is pretty rare. Plus it's nice that someone I admired as a child is still worthy of respect now that I'm an adult.

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