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July was, without question, the worst month in recent memory for professional sports. Each one of America's big three got its own black eye.

  • Barry Bonds pursued baseball's most hallowed record, the career home run mark, amid suspicions of steroid abuse—and a pesky perjury investigation.
  • Michael Vick, the NFL's second-highest-paid player, was arraigned in federal court on charges of illegal dog fighting.
  • And, most damaging, Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee, was accused by the FBI of betting on games in which he'd participated—the cardinal sin in all sports.

Overshadowed by these negative headlines was a noble decision made by Utah Jazz guard Derek Fisher: He asked to leave his team.

Fisher wasn't seeking to damage the Jazz, which had advanced to the Western Conference finals a month before. Indeed, his decision had nothing to do with basketball. It had to do with priorities.

Fisher, a quiet, steady Christian witness in a league of bling and groupies, left Salt Lake City in order to focus on his daughter's health. Only 11 months old, Tatum was diagnosed in May with retinoblastoma. The rare cancer threatens not just her left eye, but her life. Fisher gave up millions of dollars, and possibly his career, in order to move to a city with the right combination of medical specialists.

Such an admirable, selfless move is rare in the world of pro sports. Athletes are ridiculously overpaid—Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett will make nearly three times as much as the entire U.S. Senate next year—and lauded with a kind of hero worship no person can live up to. Some don't even try. As hall of fame forward Charles Barkley reportedly said, "I am not a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. … Just because ...

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In the Magazine

September 2007

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