If you are a sports fan who has watched ESPN in the past 15+ years, there’s a good chance you know the name Tony Reali.
Reali made his on-camera debut with the network as “Stat Boy” on Pardon The Interruption in 2001 and began hosting Around The Horn in 2004.
He grew up in New Jersey, attended Christian Brothers Academy, and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Fordham, a Jesuit university in New York.
And every Ash Wednesday, he hosts his show while wearing ashes on his forehead.
I have never met Reali, but have watched his broadcasting career from afar and have long admired how he is publicly open about his faith in an industry where it is probably far more common for Catholics to wash the ashes off before stepping in front of the camera or to wait to attend Mass until the end of the day.
Over Father’s Day weekend, he shared on Twitter heartbreaking news and a poignant reflection about life, fatherhood, and his and his wife’s recent experience of losing one of their twin sons in the moments leading up to birth.
When Reali returned to hosting Around The Horn this week, I was struck by how honestly and vulnerably he spoke about loss, grief, and humanity.
Reali has written previously about mental health and anxiety and, as he mentions in his monologue, that it is okay to not be okay.
As a sports fan, I enjoy shows like PTI and Around The Horn, because they don’t take themselves too seriously and their fast pace is easy to watch if I am on the treadmill at the gym after a long work day.
This week, however, Reali’s words were a moving reminder that we need to always show compassion to those around us.
We all have friends, family members or colleagues who may be hurting silently. We might even be struggling ourselves. It’s easy to suppress our feelings and shake them off in the busyness of our daily lives, but we need to always lean on one another, always be good to one another, and in the spirit of Reali’s late son, Amadeo, always share God’s love with one another.