Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Super Schuman: No athlete could match sportswriter's grit

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You couldn't have a bad day around Matt Schuman.

He loved being a sportswriter so much that he never let the pain of his muscular dystrophy show. The only thing as constant as his motorized wheelchair was the smile on his face.

Even on the coldest of Colorado days, Matt rolled down the street from his apartment to the newspaper office. He was always ready to work and to talk about his beloved Denver Broncos. During one of his many hospital stays as a child, he received a visit from his idol, Floyd Little, and Matt was quick to note that the Broncos' great did this with no fanfare.

Matt never wanted any fuss made about him. He wanted only the opportunity to work around the athletes who could do all he couldn't. He relished reporting on the Broncos, but no story was too big or small for him.

In 2003, when I was his editor, I asked him to consider working on a special project examining people with disabilities in our community. I didn't know whether he would want to be taken temporarily off sports coverage, but I knew he was the man for the job during our first planning meeting. At that session, he ticked off the key issues facing those with disabilities and said he knew or could find people in the community he could feature for each installment of what became our "Access and Ability" series.

That work remains one of my proudest accomplishments as an editor. I learned so much from Matt's insights, his reporting and his humanity.

Every so often, he would be struck with pneumonia, his lungs being in a perpetually fragile state. We would all say silent prayers each time, wondering whether this was it. But Matt, a former Jerry Lewis poster child, kept defying the odds, which first said he'd never live to adulthood. Only his zest for life could explain how he made it to age 49.

Matt fought harder than any athlete I've ever seen, yet you never saw the battle in his face or his heart. His mobility decreased with each passing year, yet he kept figuring out how to report and tell the story.

Pneumonia finally won early Sunday, but you'd never say Matt lost.