Maybe it’s not a coincidence that I’ve always been interested in heroes, starting with my dad, Phil Robertson, and my mom, Miss Kay. My other heroes are my pa and my granny, who taught me how to play cards and dominoes and everything about fishing (which was a lot), and my three older brothers, who teased me, beat me up, and sometimes let me follow them around. Not much has changed in that department.
I’ve always loved movies, and when I was about seven or eight years old, I watched Rocky, Sylvester Stallone’s movie about an underdog boxer who used his fists, along with sheer will, determination, and the ability to endure pain, to make a way for himself. He fought hard but played fair and had a soft spot for his friends. I fell in love with Rocky. He was my hero, and I became obsessed.
When I decide to do something, I’m all in; so I found a pair of red shorts that looked like Rocky’s boxing trunks and a navy blue bathrobe with two white stripes on the sleeve and no belt. I took off my shirt and ran around bare-chested in my robe and shorts. Most kids I knew went through a superhero phase, but they picked DC Comics guys, like Batman or Superman. Not me. I was Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion, and proud of it. Mom let me run around like that for a couple of years, even when we went in to town.
Rocky had a girlfriend, Adrian, who was always there, always by his side. When he was beaten and blinded in a bad fight, he called out for her before anybody else. “Yo, Adrian!” he shouted in his Philly-Italian accent. He needed her.
Eventually, I grew up, and the red shorts and blue bathrobe didn’t fit anymore, but I always remembered Rocky’s kindness and his courage. And that every Rocky needs an Adrian.
Jep Robertson (The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness)