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The Legacy Of Jim Thorpe Essay

1735 words - 7 pages

On May 22, 1888, Charlotte Thorpe gave birth to Jacobus (Jim) Franciscus Thorpe and his twin brother, Charles, on an Indian reservation near modern-day Prague, Oklahoma. His Native American roots trace back to chief Black Hawk of the Sac and Fox tribe. His Native American name was Wa-tho-huk, which means “Bright Path.” As a child, he experienced many hardships and struggles. Despite those circumstances, he grew up to be the world’s greatest athlete and play six sports and star in the Olympics. Unfortunately, the Olympics didn’t work out the way he planned. Later in life, he battled health, marriage, and child issues. Undeterred by his struggles, the story of Jim Thorpe’s life is a triumphant yet tragic account of a man who overcame the impossible and the impassible to become the greatest athlete in the history of the world.
Jim had a rough childhood. His mother and father had 11 children, six of which died at an early age. He had a very close relationship with his brother; they did everything together. They hunted, fished, played sports, and rode horses, and when pneumonia took the life of young Charles; Jim was heartbroken. Due to his death, Jim fell into a depression. He lost interest in athletics and his schooling, and constantly ran away from school. In 1898, his father, who was of European descent, sent him to Haskell Indian Junior College; a government managed boarding school located about 300 miles away from home in Lawrence, Kansas. This school took in young Native Americans and tried to “civilize” them. Jim was not permitted to speak his native Sac and Fox language and was forced to let go of his Indian traditions. Jim still held dear to his heritage despite these circumstances. It was here where he first was inspired to play football when he saw the varsity football team practicing. In 1901, he got wind that his father had been involved in a hunting accident, so he snuck away from school and hurried home: catching a train first (but it was going the wrong way), then walking most of the way home, and occasionally, hitching a ride. His entire trip lasted around two weeks. By the time he arrived home, his father had already recovered from the incident and was extremely disappointed in his son. Although his father highly disapproved of it, he stayed on their family’s farm to help out. Only months after his return, his mother died of blood poisoning during childbirth and so did the baby. With this tragedy, tensions between Thorpe and his father reached an all-time high. Preceding a heated argument with his father and a beating from him, 13 year old Jim Thorpe ran away to Texas and found a job taming wild horses on a ranch. He worked there and earned enough to support him for an entire year. When he arrived home, his father was very proud of him. He was now respected by his father and acknowledged the fact he needed to go to school, so he agreed to terms with his father to attend a public school. He attended Garden...

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