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Great Moments: A Gift of Champions

Bill Livingston
From the Print Edition:
Ernest Hemingway, Jul/Aug 99

(continued from page 2)

His buddies weren't, however. Without O'Keefe's knowledge, they wrote letters and made phone calls to Michigan State. An abashed Perles admitted his oversight on behalf of the university, and two days before last Christmas, the conspirators struck. They told O'Keefe they were all meeting at a restaurant in Cleveland's Flats for a smoker thrown by the cigar store.

Instead, letters from Perles and Saban and a Michigan State Rose Bowl ring just like his teammates got in the '80s were waiting for him. O'Keefe fought back tears when his mother, Elaine, presented it to him. "Don't make a big deal out of me," he said that night. "Other people have just as many problems. A lot of people lost a lot more than I did to this disease."

He said that he would put the ring "next to my humidor, on the mantle, in a place of honor."

Instead, the ring rests on Kevin O'Keefe's finger. He holds it up so the diamond chips flash in the light. "I wear it all the time," he says. "These guys won't let me take it off."

Bill Livingston is a sports columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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