ESPN host Tony Reali delivers powerful message after losing a child

ESPN host Tony Reali returned to work on Monday, doing his usual job of hosting “Around the Horn.” Reali is the moderator of various discussions on topics with four sports journalists.

But this Monday was a little different. It was the first day of work for Reali since experiencing the amazing blessing of bringing home one child, and the incredible torment of losing another.

In an Instagram post that Reali shared on Father’s Day, he revealed that he and his wife, Samiya, were expecting twin sons. In the days leading up to the birth of their boys, one of them, Amadeo, had died.  The other child, Enzo, was born early in an emergency delivery but is now home and doing well.

Heartened by Father’s Day wishes. In recognition that this day like all things in life could mean different things to different people -parent and child, positive and negative-I’d like to speak here about fathers who’ve experienced loss. This month I became one. Anyone within a galaxy of me knows we were expecting twins. We lost Amadeo in the moments leading up to childbirth. We delivered Enzo weeks early in an emergency. Last week was our memorial mass for Amadeo. This week Enzo came home happy, healthy and strong. The duality of all this – the anguish and the joy – is impossible to grasp. But it’s one we know we must navigate. For me that means two things: giving voice to our feelings, and allowing others to lift us when we can’t shoulder the load of those feelings. The heaviness of giving a eulogy for a son who never had a chance to breathe. Having to talk to our just-old-enough-to-know daughter who was expecting two siblings. These are impossible moments; how can any parent go forward? Ever be whole? Consider that grief could mean meeting ourselves where we actually are. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about navigating feelings. Recognizing we didn’t get to know Amadeo- but sure as anything we felt him. Felt his kicks, felt his presence. That feeling is life. I am not somebody who thinks everything happens for a reason. I’ve spent time here & here pledging that it’s ok to not be ok. For me the recognition that life can be out of our control is necessary; how we respond is what we do control, and it’s pivotal and determining. But what if it requires more than that? How we choose to respond, but also: how others positively respond to us, for us. And that’s what I’m talking about when I talk about allowing others to lift us. Example: In our instance, a twin stroller is on every block, an expectant family at every park. That can pierce your heart, but you can’t let it pierce you every day. Or a day like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it’s even trickier. Isn’t grief part and proof of humanity? What if it’s humanity you need to open yourself up to? To allow to shepherd you through trials of grief?

A post shared by Antonio Giuseppe Paolo Reali (@tonyreali) on

After Reali’s Instagram post on Sunday, he was back at work on Monday and given the floor at the end of his show to share an emotional monologue on parenthood and the grief from losing a child.

“Grief is part of humanity,” Reali said. “Grief is proof of humanity. Parents dealing with loss or anybody dealing with loss, meet yourself where you are. Give voice to your feelings. Young men, young women watching, this can be how you grieve. Don’t bury your heart — keep it on the outside and look to other people. Because humanity can lift us. That has been my experience.”

Reali went on to reveal the name of his son who died was Amadeo, which means God’s love.

“Amadeo, I’ll love you forever. You’re named for God’s love. May we all be craving it. May we all be giving it to each other. May we all be compassionate enough to give it to all.”

Join us in praying for the Reali family as they grieve the loss of their son Amadeo.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

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