Wednesday, November 12, 2008 Updated: November 17, 12:07 PM ET
Life of Reilly
By Rick Reilly ESPN The Magazine
They called the fight that killed Barry Scott a mismatch, but Barry Scott vs. life was a mismatch, wasn't it?
Barry, the 145-pound Hummer gunner vs. the hell of Baghdad? He was nearly blown up twice, yet couldn't wait to get back on Skype to tell his wife, Amber, about it. "I'm still breathing!" was his motto. "That's what counts!" BARRY GAVE LOPEZ A BIG HUG, WENT INTO THE DRESSING AREA, COMPLAINED OF A TERRIBLE HEADACHE, VOMITED, STOOD UP AND COLLAPSED.
Barry, the tiny cop vs. the mean streets of Maryvale, Phoenix's most violent precinct, where he lived and worked? He'd come back from some close shave and call his best friend, Derek Frader, at 3 a.m. to tell him about it. "We'd hear gun shots every night," Amber says. "Everybody told us to move." But Barry loved the idea of helping people in trouble. I'm still breathing! That's what counts!
Once, he arrived at a hairy father-son fight and spent the next 45 minutes talking separately to one, then the other, until they wound up hugging and crying in each other's arms. "Any other cop would've taken one in and nothing would've gotten better," Derek says.
Barry, the lightweight boxer vs. a fireman 20 pounds heavier? He bloodied the guy's nose in a training bout a week before. His buddies were surprised he could reach the guy's nose, much less bloody it.
The 22-year-old Scott went all in on everything he did—from cap to boots. He was half man, half SuperBall. Once he went racing into Derek's living room, did a diving roll like he had a gun and hollered, "Get on the ground! Now!" He'd keep fighting Ju-jitsu against Derek, even after Derek tapped him out for 20 straight minutes. And Derek owns a martial arts gym!
And so when Barry saw a poster for a Guns n' Hoses police vs. firefighters boxing card to benefit the 100 Club of Arizona, which aids families of men seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, he was one of the first to sign up.
As with anything, Barry was dizzy with excitement about it. He'd broken his nose at the police academy so it leaned left. "Maybe I'll break it again and straighten it out!" he'd tell the boys.
The man Barry was matched up against on Sept. 12 was Chandler, Ariz., fireman Donaldo Lopez, who was 10 pounds heavier. So what? Barry Scott spent a lifetime fighting stuff bigger than him.
The bout was three one-minute rounds—headgear required—but it was only 30 seconds before you knew Barry was in trouble. He was so excited, he was over swinging and getting pummeled. He was floored in the second round. One fan hollered, "Stop the fight! Stop the fight!" Halfway through the third, Barry went down hard and the ref called it—TKO.
As usual, Barry bounced up because Barry always bounces up. He gave Lopez a big hug, went back into the dressing area, complained to Amber of a terrible headache, vomited, stood up and collapsed. As they put him on the gurney for the ambulance, all Derek could think was, "Barry will get up. Barry always gets up."
Barry with wife, Amber, and son, Kyler.
Not this time. Barry never regained consciousness. Four days later, after visits from his family and dozens of Phoenix cops, Barry Scott finally stopped breathing. Survived Iraq. Survived the ghetto. Died after seeing the business end of a fireman's right.
What's weird is the man who threw it didn't even know he'd killed him. He left that night for business in Mexico, where his cell phone didn't work. It was two weeks before he knew. "He called me," says Amber. "He felt so bad. But it's OK. It's not his fault." Lopez refuses to talk publicly about it.
Nobody's suing, but the irony is piled so high in this thing you can see it from New Mexico. For one, Amber, 22, got a championship belt as a memento, but not much else. She isn't eligible for help from the very organization that Barry died trying to help. Boxing is not in a cop's line of duty. But Barry saw volunteering as his duty. Amber doesn't know how she'll keep her house, much less get their infant son, Kyler, to college. (Barry's friends have set up a way to help: Just go to any Bank of America and ask for the Barry Scott Memorial Fund.)
There is one rainbow in all this rain. Amber donated all of Barry's organs and bone marrow, giving new life to more than a dozen people, which only goes to show that even in death, you can't keep a guy like Barry Scott down.
And that's what counts.
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