It’s not particularly rare for a high school to offer its football team the chance to dedicate a single game’s jersey to a family member or charity cause. What is rare is for one player to use that opportunity to dedicate their uniform to a celebrity.
That’s precisely what has unfolded at Walled Lake Western High in Michigan, where the back of sophomore Caidon Haliburton’s jersey will honor the late, great Aretha Franklin, and for good reason.
Here’s how Haliburton and his mother, Carin Poole, explained the connection with Franklin to the Press:
Haliburton’s mother, Carin Poole, is a relative of Aretha Franklin’s. She said, “Caidon has always had a heart for helping others. His lifelong dream is to use his talents and strong interest in ‘old school’ music to pave the way to positive choices for young people, similar to the Berry Gordy approach with Motown. With the passing of Aretha Franklin, Caidon proposed to combine his desire to help others with his love for music.”
Haliburton said, “It means the world to me to be able to honor this legendary musical giant in my own way. The Franklin Family will (receive) the football jersey with her name to commemorate this experience, but I will have priceless memories to share with my children and beyond.”
What isn’t mentioned in those comments is the more obvious connection between Franklin and cancer; the legendary singer died of pancreatic cancer in August.
Now that reality will merge with a unique tribute that Franklin definitely never saw coming from a Michigan teen who both looked up to her and hopes to build on his familial connection to Motown’s finest.