Two men died yesterday.
One had houses all over the world, consorted with the famous and powerful, claimed to be as rich as a king, and even possessed his own island.
The other lived with his mother because when he was young he promised to take care of her.
One was white; the other black and Japanese.
One was a sick, sordid user and abuser; the other a giver and an empowerer.
One was clearly a demon and a destroyer of young women, whose acts and name will long bring vile curses to the lips of virtually all who learn about him; the other was clearly a kind, compassionate, decent down-to-earth benefactor, whose sole purpose was to take teenagers in their oft-confusing years of adolescence and help mold them into young men their families and communities could be proud of.
One’s name was Jeffrey Epstein. The other was James Breech, known to all simply as Breech.
Today, the internet will be filled with articles and analysis of the horrid exploits and suspicious death of Epstein. But here I would like to pass on a few words about Breech, who was one of the truly great coaches and teachers I ever had the honor of meeting.
Breech was many things to many people. But to me, he was the greatest 2nd father my sole son Michael Price could ever have had.
There are so many stories I could recount about Jim Breech. But the one I will offer took place in our kitchen of our North Park Drive home. It was the summer of Michael’s 8th grade year. He had made the Senior League baseball all-stars as a 14-year-old. That summer Breech had also been giving Michael tennis lessons. Jim stopped by to tell Michael he had entered him in his first tennis tournament. I told Michael that he would have to make a decision — he would be entering high school that Fall and since baseball and tennis were both spring sports, he should make his decision which he wanted to play now. I was sure he would choose baseball. But Michael opted for tennis. And that seemingly-then-small decision, as Robert Frost wrote in his classic poem “The Road Not Taken” definitely “made all the difference”.
During his teenage years, Michael spent more of his waking time with Breech than he did with me. Breech imparted much tennis to Michael, but much more importantly, he imparted much knowledge about the only subject that really matters – how to live life in the best way possible.
Obviously, today I see much of me in a Michael. But I also see much of Breech in my son. Fortunately, I had a few chances to tell Breech how much I appreciated his second fathership over the years.
Like so many others who knew him, I am saddened today for Jim’s earthly passing. But I know he will live eternally in the marvelous memories he created. For me … for Michael … for my grandchildren, Audrey and Owen, both of whom are taking up tennis.
And I’m sure Michael will pass on to them the most important lesson James Breech ever taught him — what happens on a tennis court matters for a few moments, but how you handle yourself on the court of life is what really counts.
In our lives, we get many chances to make choices — baseball or tennis … to strive for that which seems important or for that which truly is … whether to be an Epstein or a Breech.
Now I might not know all that is true, but I do know this — given such a choice, refuse to follow the path set down by Epstein. Always, always, always choose to be a Breech, for that is the best of all roads to travel.