If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down. - Mary Pickford, Motion Picture Actress
It was the summer of 1988. The Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, would begin in September and the US Olympic Diving Trials were just a couple of weeks away. The US had the potential to do quite well in Seoul. 1984 Gold Medalist Greg Louganis would be competing, as would the 1984 Platform Silver Medalist Bruce Kimball. Diving was in Kimball's blood: His father, Dick Kimball, was a legendary diving coach. The excitement among diving fans was undoubtedly palpable.
On the evening of August 1, all excitement was gone in an instant when an intoxicated Bruce Kimball plowed his Mazda RX7 into a crowd of young people near Brandon, Florida. More importantly, the lives of two of those young people were forever extinguished, as they were killed when struck by Kimball's car, which also seriously injured three others. For the victims and their families, life would never be the same. Nor, justifiably, would it ever be the same for Kimball.
While awaiting trial, Kimball was brazen enough to still compete in the Olympic Trials. But with the pressure of his then-alleged act, he fell short of making the team. During the 1988 Games, Kimball was almost forgotten about by the media. The focus was placed on the heroes of Seoul as well as the great doping scandal of the Games. When Kimball's trial began in January 1989, it quickly and quietly ended when he spared the victims and their families further pain and pleaded guilty. He was given a 17-year sentence and an additional 22 years probation.
Then a young teen, I remember hearing the news reports, horrified by the tragic deaths and injuries. I also was terribly dismayed to learn that such a senseless act had been committed by an Olympian. An athlete whose grace and strength had won him an Olympic medal was now one of the most reviled people in America. Once positioned on the platform alongside Louganis, Retton and Lewis, Kimball was now plunging head first into a sea reserved for those athletes who lied, cheated, or even did worse.