It was my first spring basketball practice for High School ball. Still in school at the Jr. High, I was incredibly apprehensive, somewhat intimidated and totally unsure of what to expect. From the time I walked into the gym and saw the upper classmen, guys I had watched play on that hallowed court at Bradley Central, our best player David Landrith always made me feel special. His 6’6 lanky frame and closely cut hair never changed as long as I knew him. Even up to just a few months ago, 30 years later, David always looked the same. More than that, David always acted the same. One could say, he was incredibly mature as a High School boy or that he just never really grew up as an adult. Both would be accurate, but only because David wanted it that way.
I remember that first summer practice and the first time I heard David’s famous saying, “You got to C’mon!” His last personal tweet before Jen took over his phone had that same familiar saying as he promoted his beloved Long Hollow Church with those same words, “C’mon.” (see his tweet dated 10/25/14) Speaking of Twitter, David had 8,000+ followers, so imagine how I felt when I got a notification that my very first follower upon creating an account was @davidlandrith. Again, he made me (all of us) feel special. David specialized in making people feel special.
As a Sophomore, this Senior Captain of our team took me under his wing. We poured on the sweat and worked hard each day in the gym battling with our teammates and opponents, but it is the off the court memories that I am most reflective of. We shared a passion for basketball and people, but mostly our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even as High School “kids” we had healthy discussions, sometimes debates about the Bible and what we had learned from our devotions, studies, church’s theology and speakers that we had heard. In the end, as teenagers we came to the same conclusion we discussed the last time I saw him just a few months ago. “Let’s forget all the debates, quit wasting time discussing any minor differences that don’t really matter and go tell people about Jesus.”
We have all experienced loss. I personally have lost a younger brother at 28 and sister at 32. Loss is incredibly difficult and the pain is sometimes almost insurmountable. I often wonder how one makes it without the “comforter.” (Holy Spirit) Even as I pound these keys, my eyes blur with tears. Losing David is a heart shattering blow to all of us! We have literally prayed daily for David and for my childhood neighbor, Jennifer (Ramsey) Landrith and family since the day we heard the shocking news almost 2 years ago. The call came and the news was that David had this dreaded disease that we all fear. We have prayed for Long Hollow church and those with the daunting task of following such an anointed Leader.
My daughter wonders why I am so moved when speaking of David. After all, she knows I have experienced numerous losses. She has as well. But there was just something about David Landrith! I imagine David is walking down the streets of Gold and as he passes each mansion more people jump in and follow this infectious personality. While we are left to celebrate his life on Earth, David is overwhelmed with countless lives that are sharing their story with him of how he impacted their lives. Heaven is rejoicing and David is pain free and totally healed from all disease. He is talking with so many that he never even really knew while here on earth, but they sat in the chairs of his church, maybe they heard him preach or were somehow connected to his ministry. David had no idea of the impact he had while on earth. David Landrith’s impact was massive.
As I write these last words, if I look up to the heavens………………………………… and listen really close……………………………….. I can almost hear David……………………… “Rich, this is the place we used to talk about and it’s ALL that! This place will put you where you oughta be!………………………….. YOU GOT TO C’MON!”
I’ll be there soon my friend. There will NEVER be another David Landrith.