On Friday evening March 16th this world lost the best man I know. Marco Giovengo suffered a heart attack in his on campus apartment in Lexington. But that's enough about his death. I am writing this today so people will remember him for the way he lived, because that is what he would have wanted, and that is what he deserves.
My relationship with Marco began in our Sport Coaching class. He had asked me to help him out on an assignment through a message on Facebook and after I had helped him he challenged me to a video game of NBA 2k11. It was definitely a different experience for me at first. I had never had a friend who was handicapped, growing up as an athlete I had very few friends who weren't athletes, and I had a very minimal understanding of the disease muscular dystrophy that he was suffering from.
The first time I met him it made me sad because I had trouble understanding everything he was saying. I felt bad asking him to repeat himself, but he understood that I was trying my best so he didn't mind too much. But despite not being able to hear him very clearly that first time we hung out there were a few things that I learned about him right off the bat.
He also loved and appreciated people way more than anybody I know. After leaving his apartment one time after we had hung out, he texted me and said "hey man thanks for coming over, it means a lot to me. I love you bro." I wasn't sure what to think at first. I mean how many guys tell their friends on a daily basis that they love them. The next time we hung out he said to me "I know you might think it's weird that I say I love you. But I really do man. You don't know how many people can't accept me for who I am. So the fact that you look right past all of this, and treat me the way you do, it really means the world to me." It just about broke my heart when he said that to me, and I told him I loved him every day after that.
Another thing is he would never be afraid to speak his mind. That first time we hung out, he beat my butt in that game of NBA 2k11, and he was talking trash to me the whole time. He had used the Orlando Magic and I used the New York Knicks. His favorite player was J.J. Redick and he was yelling things like "J.J. Redick baby", after he hit shots with him, and "New York sucks" the entire game. Another thing that stuck out to me, was that in the entire three hours I spent with him, he didn't say one negative thing. He had this terrible disease, but he was not about to let it define him by any means. He was a regular college student, pursuing his degree, talking about girls, and living on his own.
This year Marco has had some great memories, despite finishing as a runner-up for Homecoming King, he loved Homecoming weekend. I would be lying if I said he wasn't bitter about not winning, because he absolutely was. But he had a great time regardless. I threw him a birthday party at my apartment and he said to me "Dan I got the invites for the guys, but out of us two you're the pimp so I want lots of ladies there." We had about 40 people crammed into my apartment for the party, and at least half of them were girls, and during the midst of it, he called me over and said to me "I love you Dan, this is the best night of my life."
Marco always loved the Pitt Panthers, but he really loved his Robert Morris Colonials and his university. He said that this was his second home. He was more involved than just about anybody on campus. He was a member of the band, the Secretary of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, which he was Damn Proud of, as he liked to constantly say, and a Sport Management major who was ready to walk in May and graduate in August. He was at every basketball game, and every football game, and he swore that we could beat anybody.
Marco is the most courageous person I have ever known, and I consider it a privilege and an honor to have known him so well, and to call him my friend. Just think about all of the people you know, or maybe even you are guilty of it, who go through life just floating along, not working towards anything, wasting the gift, and the blessing they have been given. Here was a kid who was dealt a bad card, but refused to let it hold him back. Marco lived his life to the fullest until his last moments. I spent that afternoon watching March Madness with him. We were watching 15th seeded Norfolk State, upset 2nd seeded Missouri. He was yelling about how embarrassing Missouri was, and that they sucked, mainly because he had picked Missouri to go to the Final Four in his bracket. But than he said to me "you know how I love underdogs, so I can't really be that mad." And I did know, he had said to me once, the reason he cheers for underdogs so much is because he is an underdog himself.
Marco always said to me and my teammates that we were an inspiration to him, but the truth is that he was an inspiration to us. He has taught me so much, and he really has given me an entirely new outlook on life. So although Marco is no longer physically with us, I hope that his passion, his courage, his love, and his unbreakable, and undeniable spirit, will live inside of all of us, and I can promise you that it will always live on inside of me. Rest In Peace man. I love you.