I didn’t really look up to any sports figures when I was growing up. The other kids in school worshiped baseball, hockey, basketball or football players. I didn’t get it. Why should we admire and emulate some guy who’s main claim to fame is the ability to do some tricks with a ball or a stick?
I read a lot of S/F and Fantasy, and liked the works of many different writers. However, I realized pretty early on to separate their works and their personalities. There was always the suspicion that some of the writers I enjoyed would turn out to be jerks in real life. After I grew up and actually got to meet some of them, I learned that yeah, some are jerks. Some were just fine -pretty much like most any other group of people.
The closest thing I had to a hero was my dad. He was there for me. Dad taught me all about being a man. I learned how to be tough and how to fight. Dad’s a bad ass. I once saw him fight off a guy bigger than him and half his age, then stare down over 20 of the guy’s friends. He also taught me to never pick fights, but if you have to fight, finish it.
I learned how to treat women by watching my dad. He loved my mom and was unfailing loyal and supportive of her. His strongest contempt was for men who hit and abused women. In his eyes, that was the most unmanly thing a guy could do.
Dad taught me how to use tools and how to fix things. Just as important as the specific skills he imparted was the confidence to attempt things I never did before.
While my dad and I enjoyed a lot of the same things, I became interested in things he knew nothing about and didn’t understand. That was fine with him. He reserved judgment and encouraged me to discover things for myself.
Of course, dad being a real human being, he has his faults. Who doesn’t? Still, he’s the closest thing to a hero I’ve got. Not too bad for a guy I’ve known all my life. In a world where “heroes” have feet of clay, that’s saying a lot. I’ve been pretty lucky.