VanDam’s Emotional Last launch

While Kevin VanDam laid sleeping in a downtown Birmingham hotel room Thursday night, his bride, best friend, and business partner, Sherry couldn’t close her eyes. She knew that Friday might very well be his very last day to compete on bass fishing’s biggest stage, and so she began to write.


Her words flowed like the Coosa River he’d won the 2010 Classic on, the same body of water that may serve as his final playing field today, if he can’t pull off a miraculous fish-catching frenzy. They were sentences filled with gratitude for all the sport had given their family, and the treasured friends and fans his phenomenal 33-years as a pro had granted them.


Mostly, they were sentences filled with admiration and love. “I truly can’t believe today may be the last day our family is together at one of his tournaments. It’s all the boys have ever known, and practically all Kevin and I have known, as he started his pro journey just three years after we started dating,” she posted to social media.


When her husband awoke five hour later to begin the one-hour drive alone to Lay Lake, she read her words to him, and he responded, “You just about flooded my contacts right out of my eyes.”


Kevin’s not much of a crier, but the finality of 33-years on tour hit harder Friday morning than the line of thunderstorms that rolled across Alabama shortly after blast-off.


As is always the case, he obliged one interview request after another with class and kindness, while tied to the dock, with one exception, for the first time in the 28 richly blessed years I’ve had the honor of covering him, he stopped to wipe tears from his 56-year-old eyes.


“Sherry’s text was heavy. As has been the case for 33 years, I’m focused on the tournament, while she’s seeing the bigger picture, and when she read those words summing up this life we’ve lived for three decades, it hit me really hard this morning,” says VanDam.


“We’re well aware of what an incredible life this sport has given us, but just like all pro bass fishing families, there are tons of ups and downs, time away from home, just a lot of sacrifice. But it’s been a blast,” he adds.


“Names in the tournament standings change over time, but what doesn’t change is the friendships we’ve made with so many other pros, as well as fishing industry people like Trip Weldon, Kathy Fennel, and all the media and writers who have befriended us, the list goes on and on. Those friendships are what we get to hold on to,” he reflects.


After a really tough day on the water Thursday, VanDam said he planned to just take it all in today. So, in perfectly fitting fashion, while the rest of the field headed to the main lake, he hooked a left, and made his first cast in the exact same five acres of water, back in Beeswax Creek where he won the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.


Only this morning, perhaps his corneas were a bit more saturated than 14 years ago.

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