Parasiliti: Life's score isn't kept on the field

September 25, 2011
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Life is a full-contact sport.

That’s because life, like football, requires a solid game plan and the ability to handle adversity. Success is graded once the clock hits :00.

In football, the only result that counts appears on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, life is different. Sometimes, we never really know the real score.

Many of us believe that it’s not what you do in your lifetime, it’s the impact you make on others while doing it in this game called life.

In this society, death is the only sure time “fans” turn out to celebrate one’s victories and accomplishments, to tell stories and remind each other the blessings their departed loved one provided during his lifetime.

Right now, in Richmond, Va., the friends and family of Jamel Cobb are in that very situation. Cobb was fatally wounded near his home on Sept. 21 as he returned from playing basketball. He is remembered as a “wonderful child” while his loved ones question why it happened to someone who was just starting out at age 19. His clock expired much too early.

The ripples of Cobb’s untimely death were felt here in Hagerstown, some 175 miles north of the senseless tragedy. According to reports, Cobb was “attending Hagerstown Community College in Maryland on a basketball scholarship.”

That phrase was enough to send a chill down the spine of Hagerstown’s Barry Brown, but not for what would seem to be the apparent reasons.

Brown, HCC’s men’s basketball coach, was notified about Cobb’s death after the story was published. After the initial shock and a queasy sigh of relief, Brown told the world that Cobb wasn’t one of the players on his 2011-12 team. Nor was the fallen youth one of the team’s redshirts.

Brown had never recruited Cobb.

In fact, he never met him.

Yet, just the call implying that one of his players was murdered turned the rest of the day into a blur of activity laced with a huge dose of reality.

“I thought about him all day,” Brown admitted. “Under different circumstances, that could have very easily been one of our players. It makes you think. Every morning when you get up, you don’t know how much time you have left. You have to make the best of the time you have.”

The name “Jamel Cobb” became the mantra for HCC basketball last Wednesday. And he just might become the background inspiration the Hawks carry with them this season.

Brown talked with his team about this young man he didn’t know. Cobb’s loss provided an example for each HCC player to give everything they have on the floor and in their lives because they will never know when it will end. Their actions will become the statistics of their lives.

According to Brown, some of the Hawks were visibly moved by Cobb’s story, some bordering on tears. The team dedicated every action on Wednesday to the memory of Cobb.

“I wish I would have met him,” Brown said. “If I had recruited him, he would have been sitting in front of me now and would be safe.”

But fate took a different course.

Cobb only had a short time to make his marks in life. A ruthless individual cut his time on this earth short.

He never became part of the HCC family. Yet, Barry Brown, for one, will always remember a player he never met.

In that way, Jamel Cobb’s impact has scored his victory for eternity.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at

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