Beyond the Game: Given four months to live, softball is 'therapy' for this coach


When Ken Parker started an adult softball team seven years ago, he never could have imagined how much it would mean to him today.

"I decided to go ahead and put a team together and just say, 'hey, I need you. Come on.' And they've been supportive. All the guys have been supportive," Parker said.

He needs that support now more than ever.

Parker, 59, lives in Rogers, Arkansas. He worked in law enforcement in Arkansas and Louisiana. He even served as a special contractor in Iraq. There, suffered a brain injury in a car crash. He has dealt with migraines since.

About a month ago, he learned he has stage four cancer. Last week, he learned how rapidly it's spreading. Doctors, in fact, give him about four months.

"My wife was actually going to make a shirt for me, somewhat synonymous with the 'Live Strong' shirt. My shirt is going to say 'Die Strong.'"

Until recently, Parker said he was exercising at the gym five days a week. But the cancer is too aggressive.

"Life goes on. It's part of life. Let's just go have fun. It's all we can do at this point."

He has all but conceded the fight, so his softball team is now fighting for him.

"They fight every day. They know that I'll be here too as long as I can."

The "Ark Angels," a team name which now holds an appropriate double-entendre, competed this weekend at the Busch Classic softball tournament in Central Arkansas. Parker said he hopes to be with them in September, when they compete at the world championships in Orlando. He called the sport "therapy."

Between now and then, Parker said he is "living every day as if it's his last." That means being around his team as much as possible.

"I'd be out here regardless, to my last breath," he said.

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