2005: Poor, pregnant Linda produced a champion

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm •  Published: May 10, 2008
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She was born poor. Born poor and raised in the housing projects of Dallas. Born poor and raised in the projects and her alcoholic father split. Born poor and in the projects and in a broken home, and then at 17 she got pregnant.

Strike four.

But Linda didn't whiff. Somewhere deep in that troubled plot lived a spirit that longed to soar.

Linda aspired for a better life.

She always was a worker. She cleaned houses and baby sat and then fooled the manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken into hiring her at age 13.

When Linda got pregnant, her mother told her to get an abortion. Instead, Linda decided to keep the baby and was kicked out of the house. So she married her boyfriend, the father of the child.

Linda worked days at J.C. Penney's and helped her husband deliver newspapers at night. But he was a boy trying to live a man's life, and he hit her, and soon enough, she moved out.

So much for that better life. Except for that little dash of sunshine who had come along.

Linda had wanted a girl. She was going to name it Erica, after the character on All My Children. But then came this rambunctious little boy who melted her heart. She named him after a Dallas Cowboy; he was the best thing in her life and she let him know it.

She danced her baby around the room to a Marvin Gaye tune, "You gave me a reason for living ... taught me the meaning of giving..."

Linda threw her life into her son. Oh, she got married again, and this marriage didn't take either, but she always had her boy. She loved him with a love that made the rest of the world insignificant by comparison. No one would ever make her feel small, because she was that boy's mother. She lost jobs when her boy was sick and she stayed home with him, but her parents chipped in, and a fractured family started to heal.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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