11/08/2011 05:20 pm ET Updated Jan 08, 2012

Grantland: Growing Up Penn State

Something terrible happened on my street when I was kid, something that I had screened from my consciousness for many years until last weekend. My neighbor Scott Holderman and I were futzing about near the side of his house, setting up one of those epic Star Wars tête-à-têtes or digging for earthworms or doing whatever children do on nice days in quiet neighborhoods, and then there came a horrible screeching, the braking of an automobile that could not stop in time. The car had crested the steep hill of our street and slammed into a child who wandered into it. I can still see the child lying there, and I can still hear the mother's tortured shriek when she realized it was one of hers. An ambulance arrived, and then a medevac helicopter touched down 30 feet from our house, and they took the child away. He survived, but he wasn't the same.

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