Iconic Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died yesterday at the age of 80. What I had forgotten about him was that he had contributed $10,000 to Michelle Kwan's training back when she was a 13-year-old phenom. And in the end, he never met her! But Kwan reflects on Steinbrenner in the Los Angeles Times:
Michelle Kwan was a 13-year-old whose parents were trying to scrape up money for her skating when Yankees owner George Steinbrenner stepped up to the plate.
Kwan, who became the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, never would meet Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday at age 80. But she still has the "wicked cool" Yankees jacket Steinbrenner sent in response to her thank-you letter for his $10,000 contribution to her funding in the fall of 1993.
"He was like an angel to come and help us," Kwan said Tuesday. "He supported a 13-year-old who at that point wasn't anybody."Kwan was among many U.S. Olympians for whom Steinbrenner, a two-term U.S. Olympic Committee vice president, quietly provided financial help or a job.
That group includes gold-medal gymnast Trent Dimas; skating champions Nicole Bobek and Tonya Harding (ironically, only a few months before her associates attacked rival Nancy Kerrigan); gold-medal runner Diane Dixon; and, perhaps most significant, 1992 Olympic swimmer Ron Karnaugh, now a doctor in New Jersey.
The article talks about some of the other Olympic athletes Steinbrenner helped. It's nice to see a look into the charitable side of Steinbrenner, who was known for a lot of other types of behavior during his years as the owner of my beloved Yankees. Per yesterday's favorite joke...somewhere in heaven, Billy Martin just got fired.