My Good Friend, Wiley. An Inspiration to Us All.
Coach Brewer Announces the Wiley R. Martin Scholarship
“Wiley, we are starting a scholarship fund for the Wiley R. Martin Scholarship, to be given annually to a student manager in your honor.”
Every blessing you give to others, will be returned to you many times over.
— Wiley R. Martin
Two weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to see my good friend Wiley Martin visit the Ole Miss Pavilion for the first time. I met Wiley in the early 80s outside one of my teammate’s dorm room, but this was not the first time I’d seen him. I vividly recall seeing Wiley on the Ole Miss basketball court before one of the games earlier that year.
Wiley is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is caring, humble, and a man with strong faith. I cannot recall a time when Wiley put himself for his needs ahead of concern for you and others.
After this first meeting, I would see Wiley almost every day. He frequently stopped by Bob and my room on his way to class or just to hang out. While Wiley would be considered small among most groups and this was exaggerated as he hung out with members of our team, he is one of the strongest people I have ever met.
About three years later, we were just hanging out some guys started talking about cars. I never have been a big car guy, so I was just listening, trying to understand their catch-up maybes and better way to put it. But not Wiley. Wiley knew more about cars and the rest of the group put together times 10. He knew when certain size engines came in the market in which models had different features year-by-year. Yet Wiley had never owned a car. He had never even driven a car.
Finally, I turned a Wiley and asked, “How do you know so much about cars?” You see, Wiley was born with cerebral palsy and it was more than a little difficult for him to get around. So somewhat reluctantly, Wiley looks me in the eye and says, “Dwayne, I couldn’t walk till I was 10 and my uncle brought me a lot of magazines to read and many of those magazines were about cars”. I had known this guy for over three years, had been around him a lot, and thought I knew him pretty well. Yet, he had never mention or hinted of wanting anyone to know how hard it had been for him. How different it had been for him than it had been for those of us running around playing SEC football and basketball and baseball.
Falling down is a part of Wiley’s everyday life. And unfortunately, it was common to watch him fall while he walked across campus. Bruised, battered, and sometimes bloody, Wiley insisted on getting back to his feet by himself and carrying on. One particularly nasty fall skinned the palm of his hand badly. Not only did he not accept help getting up he refused to change our plans just because he ripped the skin off his hand.
Wiley did not want his illness to affect his life anymore than it absolutely had to and he did not want anybody to do anything or treat him any differently than they would anyone else. We went out this farm pond to fish one day. The rumors that the owner had invited guests to use his pond were greatly exaggerated and that led to an embarrassing situation when the owner showed up. I walked up to the gate to see if he needed me to move my car and he politely explained that we had inaccurate information and were not welcome on his property. The guy was nice about it and well within his rights.
So, I walked back to the pond and told Bob and Wiley we had to pack up and leave. As we started walking away from the pond the man quickly saw Wiley’s uneven stride and invited us to stay. Wiley quickly turned down his offer and continued walking to the car, picking up his pace. As soon as we got in a car Wiley said “he saw how I was and changed his tune. I don’t want anybody to treat me special. Let’s go back to the dorm.”
Yes, Wiley, you are one of the strongest people I have ever known and an inspiration to me and thousands of others.
For more on Wiley’s visit, see the Daily Mississippian article, Ole Miss alum completes bucket list item by visiting The Pavilion, for photos of the event.
Originally published at Dwayne Nesmith.