I wish to keep some anonymity in submitting this story because I have dealt with not one, not two, but three internet stalkers in my life. However, I did want to share my experience with meeting Tiger Woods. So exact dates will not be referenced and names of places will be generalized.
So in the mid 2000's I competed in a national beauty pageant representing a southern state. The pageant was held in Nevada. I worked as the queen of my state the entire year and my service project was dedicated to the "Locavore" movement. The locavore idea is buying produce and supplies from local farmers and small businesses. Throughout the year, I made some phenomenal friends within the agriculture industry and even lobbied on Capitol Hill for farmer's rights. I was extremely dedicated...probably to the point of being obsessed with my issue. Well, come pageant time, tragically, I lost to Miss Alabama (who ended up marrying one of our judges but that's neither here nor there). Regardless, I was flying home a day after the pageant and my flight was cancelled so I decided to get pretty drunk and enjoy myself. The next morning I went to the airport without even going to bed still very drunk. Well, who's at my gate 2hours ahead of time?? None other than Miss Alabama was at the gate with her new crown in a clear box sitting on her lap. I had not a bullshit smile left in me for anyone at that point in time.
I ran to the Diamond VIP airport lounge and somehow convinced the people to let me in under my father's membership. As soon as I got into the lounge away from the pageant paparazzi I burst into tears. There were only three people in the lounge- 3 men.
I'm pretty sure they thought someone had died or I had just found out I was terminally ill because of the dry heaving, snot dripping, wailing I was projecting. They sat me down in a chair and calmed me down just long enough for me to realize one of the 3 men was none other than golf legend, Tiger Woods.
I burst into tears once again- it's amazing how much you can cry while under the influence.
They introduced themselves and asked me what happened and I proceeded to tell them every detail of the past year of my life and the 2 weeks leading up to the contest and that contest events. It never occurred to me how trivial my story must have sounded to these three very professional men. From my understanding one was security for him and another worked for Tiger dealing with media. Anyway- no one treated my story as frivilous or thought what I was going through as though it was silly.
Additionally, no one asked why I had a giant watermelon in my arms with security clearance stickers all over it. You see, many of the watermelon farmers from my state flew out to see me compete. When I looked down at the watermelon, I cried some more tears and explained that this was a homegrown watermelon from the people I failed.
After the watermelon admission, one of the lounge attendants brought me a stiff drink which I eagerly finished off when it was suggested by one of the men that we cut the watermelon and that my efforts weren't in vain. Tiger offered to take a picture with a watermelon slice and told me I should send it to the national pageant organizers to prove that even though I wasn't the national beauty queen I still had what it took to promote and bring national awareness to my personal service project even with no crown on my head.
I was almost 22 years old at the time but for some reason I carried the weight of the world on shoulders. I poured my heart out to these three men explaining that I had dropped some of my classes in college to spend more time working for my project and even gave up an internship at Court TV. Tiger was interested in my future plans and goals. I told him before I became wrapped up in the excitement of the beauty queen world I wanted to eventually go to law school and then someday run for local government one day.
We all chatted for a little while they told me about the travel scheduling mishaps they were having and that they were having to take an alternative route to get to where they were going- I want to say eventually going to Lake Tahoe area. In all honesty, I was pretty drunk and way too self absorbed in my personal crisis to pay attention to their details. Before I knew it-- it was time for me to board the dreaded plane heading to Atlanta that the Alabama queen would also be on. I thanked them all for their hospitality and for putting up with my crazy train. As I was leaving Tiger Woods called out to me and said:
"Hey Red (I'm a redhead and had made a joke about it in our conversation), I don't know why you wanted to settle for a rhinestone crown when it is CLEAR to me YOU were born to earn your own DIAMONDS"
That was one of the most meaningful things anyone has ever said to me, and I know there is a lot Tiger drama right now and he's messed up. But, that experience is my firsthand account of the genuine character that is Tiger Woods. We all screw up- sometimes with mistakes that will forever scar us. I can't imagine what his family is going through or what he is going through right now, but if someone out there reading this knows him thank him for me. I've been accepted into law school, and I'm retaking my LSAT in Feb. in attempts to make four points higher for a scholarship I'm eligible for- and I may have given up if I never had that chance encounter.
If I could give Tiger some inspiration right now like he gave me I'd say keep putting one foot in front of the other, deal with everything that's coming your way- stop avoiding it- and attack it like you do on the links. One of my favorite quotes I use in closing moot trial arguments may apply to his critics:
"To err is man, to forgive is Divine, but to understand is just and right"
So I have no crazy Ambien sex stories or wild nights in a VIP casino- but a very meaningful story in my life.
I hope Tiger's family, friends, and fans can forgive him- he seeks whatever help he needs, and he can get back to the place he was when he spoke to me because that Tiger Woods- the one I met was an unstoppable, incomparable positive force that had the ability to influence people for the greater good.