The story of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay’s adolescent struggle with the murder of his mother at the hands of his stepfather at the age of seven should be pretty well-known to those who follow the team closely by now.
It is, obviously, a matter that is very dear to him, and he has since dedicated himself to educating people about domestic violence, working with a variety of charities and foundations related to domestic violence prevention, as well as women’s shelters.
Since entering the league, Gay has used his stature and influence to honor his mother, to raise awareness, and to spread a message. That message is that domestic violence always comes down to a choice. You either choose to take a step back, or you choose to engage.
The veteran cornerback has spoken to a large number of people through his charitable work, and he has found over the years that when he says this, people tend to agree, and yet he knows that, for some, in their own minds, it’s never so simple.
Gay recently took to The Players’ Tribune in order to lay out on paper what he has tried so many times to articulate on video and in person in the hopes that a different medium might send a clearer message.
In an article titled “The Heat of the Moment”, Gay goes to great lengths to explain that it is so simple as to just make a choice. He can’t help but wonder that many doubt what he has to say because he lost his mother as a result of domestic abuse.
It’s never so clear in the heat of the moment, people want to argue, but Gay has lived the heat of the moment himself, so he knows that he can speak from experience. He relays a story about an incident that occurred during his sophomore year in college between himself and his girlfriend at the time.
He writes that his girlfriend went through his phone after he had gone to bed, only to discover a text message from a woman asking if she could use his computer. Gay’s girlfriend called the woman, suspecting that something may be going on between the two of them.
In the end, Gay was awoken to a commotion, eventually realizing that is was his girlfriend and the woman who sent him a text. He told the woman to leave, and after attending morning practice, he came home and asked his girlfriend to leave.
She refused to leave as she began to cry, before growing physical. After calling to his roommate to help him resolve the situation, Gay called the police to have her escorted out of his living quarters rather than resort to her level.
On that day, about a decade ago, Gay was faced with making a choice that he had long believed was clear, and he proved to himself that it was. He chose to share this story to a wider audience in order to make sure that others see the choices clear and present to them as well.