On October 6, 2000 my entire life changed. I became a dad for the very first time. You’re story was just beginning to be written. We knew we were having a son. Thanks to a country song by Little Texas called “Amy’s back in Austin” we also knew your name long before you were born (if you would have been a girl, you might have been Amy Austin Conrad). Actually, years later I was in Nashville and had the opportunity to tell the man that wrote and sang the song all about you and your name.

Speaking of music, at the time of your birth, there was a popular song by a group everyone makes fun of now called “Creed.” The song was called “With Arms Wide Open” and this very blog is called the same thing. There was a line in that song that I prayed over you many, many times. Even the day you were born.

“If I had just one wish, only one demand. I hope he’s not like me. I hope he understands. That he can take this life and hold it by the hand. And he can greet the world, with Arms Wide Open.”

I wanted so much for you. I wanted you to avoid the mistakes I made. I wanted you to squeeze every ounce out of this life. Today, I am amazed at who you are and who you have become. Today is a milestone. Today you turn 16. You take the wheel and an entirely new world opens up to you. So while I have this moment and while I had some time, I wanted to share the journey you’ve allowed me to join you on these 16 years. For the many, many ways we are so much alike (that apple fell RIGHT beside the tree), we are different in so many positive ways (you’re an honor student for example). Let’s take a look at just a few…

I always sound like the bragging dad when I say that “the ball just seems to find you.” From clearing the bases  with a game winning hit in a championship game with the Marlins…


to the game winning hit for the Red Barons championship and getting the save in the epic game vs UA….


Speaking of pitching, how about pitching not one, but two no-hitters?


As if that wasn’t enough. You’ve authored some pretty incredible last second shots like this one to beat Darby… (video quality isn’t what it is today)

Or this one to cap off an incredible comeback (after you made 2 free throws to tie it)

Thank you for giving me so much to cheer for and so many stories to tell….

Not only has it been my joy to have a front row seat, I’ve loved being able share the journey with you. From introducing you to the sports before you played them to coaching on the field and talking it through afterwards…

And how can we look at sports and not talk about sharing our love for being fans. Again, I’m not sure you ever had a choice. From the very first day, all you’ve ever known was Carolina Blue…


I have to say that Carolina Blue has taken us on some great adventures and rides…

We got to see them beat THE Ohio State University in Columbus even when the requirement of the tickets was we had to wear Buckeye gear. We still made it work.


Our fandom has even taken us all the way to the sports Mecca in Chapel Hill where we celebrated the 2009 championship, visited the locker room and Roy Williams office.

and then paid our “respects” to that other school 8 miles down the road….


Early on I introduced you to the Raiders…

the Indians and Cavs….

You’ve even rebounded for a king….

We saw that king leave, return and deliver on a promise….


We’ve been in the dugouts, court side, and on fields…

and on scoreboards…


Now while the sports has been great, let’s talk about life for a few minutes…like we always do, always have and always will….

I think my favorite will always be the ones by the ocean. From way back when….


to then….


and even now…


We didn’t just chat at the ocean… we owned the waves too…


We’ve toured with the bands like Jason Aldean…


Zac Brown Band…


Toby Mac…


And who can forget Thousand Foot Krutch?


We even met a man who inspires our faith, Max Lucado….


We’ve seen the world torn apart…


And put back together again…


It has been my honor to be your barber all these years too…

Just as you took your first set of wheels and had some freedom…


There’s an entirely new form of freedom now. This one requires far more responsibility…

img_20160417_162256Like parking….


But you’ll get it. You always do.

If there was nothing else in this post but this video, I will always be the most proud in who you are, who you’ve chosen to follow and what you have chosen to own….

your faith.

So as I close this, I just want to say Happy Birthday Austin. Thank you for always saying “yes” when I asked if you wanted to go somewhere with me..


Now I just ask that as you head out the door on your own….maybe you do the same for me? I’ll always be your wing man. I’ll always ride shotgun. I’ll always be your biggest fan.