T.J. SIMERS

Lance Armstrong's inspiration wasn't a lie for many

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Like Lance Armstrong.

I've witnessed the incredible work of doctors like Kathleen Sakamoto and Noah Federman, who work with sick youngsters and who have the skills to deliver better days ahead.

I know how much some place in the power of belief.

But maybe more than any one in our lifetime, we've come to know the compelling example of overcoming in the story of Armstrong.

How many people found hope and remain alive today because they found something inspiring in Armstrong's determination to overcome cancer and succeed beyond anyone's wildest imagination?

Now I have to admit, I think about it on occasion when writing the inspirational life story of an athlete and what he or she might have overcome. I wake up fearful sometimes that I might find the same athlete now a scoundrel in the morning headlines.

But what difference does it make today to those who found hope so long ago in his own cancer story?

His story was alive and brimming with inspiration when those afflicted at the time needed it the most.

How many took what Armstrong had to say as the gospel, finding common resolve in their own yellow wristband, only now to have to watch Oprah?

I have no interest in watching. Who cares what Armstrong has to say now? Who cares how this story plays out, with his athletic career over and his influence now old news?

Like so many other athletes and celebrities, he had the ability to uplift, did so for a time, but ultimately wasn't up to the task.

None of it changes the power of inspiration and what it means to some — even if under false pretenses.

Would you lie to someone dying if you thought it would bring them some peace?

There is nothing noble, of course, in what Armstrong has done. And this is no defense of the ends justifying the means, no defense whatsoever for the lie lived by Armstrong.

But for everything done in the name of adding to his financial wherewithal and stroking his ego, I also suspect he lacked the guts to come clean with those who found him so meaningful in their lives.

However he explains it now, it's irrelevant.

The most important thing about sports or greatness is that power to inspire — despite how fleeting or fickle it might be sometimes.

This whole Armstrong mess now is only a reminder that he's human, and in no way bigger than life.

The 7-Eleven Kid will learn that in time, but right now what's important is that George Herbert Walker Bush has someone on his staff who recognizes what a response to a second-grader might mean in the name of George Herbert Walker Bush.

And as for Clinton, I can only hope the day will come when his daughter wants to meet a sports columnist.

I just hope it's not Dwyre.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesTJSimers
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