Sad news to report. Former New York police officer Steven McDonald passed away today. The former NYPD detective who was shot in the line of duty and paralyzed lost his battle following a heart attack suffered on Jan. 6. He was 59.
For 30 years, McDonald was a hero who exemplified what it meant to wear a badge. He was shot on July 12, 1986 by 15-year old Shavod Jones. While preventing a robbery with his partner in Central Park, he was shot three times by Jones including the head, throat and spine which paralyzed him from the neck down causing him to become a quadriplegic. The severe injuries forced him into a wheelchair where he needed ventilator.
Despite that disability, McDonald lived his life like it never changed. He became a symbol of New York City. Someone that was looked up to for his heroism. A true role model who was honored by the New York Rangers. After the 1987-88 season, the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award was named in his honor. A passionate Ranger fan, he would come to MSG and present the award to the player who best exemplifies going above and beyond the call of duty. A check of $25,000 in that player’s name is presented and made out to the Steven McDonald Foundation.
Prominent winners have included Adam Graves who holds the record with five. Former Ranger Ryan Callahan won the away four times. Jed Ortmeyer and Mats Zuccarello have also won the prestigious award twice. When I think of the award, I’m reminded of everything good that this town stands for. It’s hard working and appreciative of players who become unsung heroes for their yeoman effort. That’s what the award stands for.
It’s hard to believe he’s really gone. But for three decades, McDonald personified what it meant to keep fighting. His spirit was always on display when he presented the award to thunderous ovations from appreciate fans who identified with him. This man always spoke with such emotion. His words meant a lot. When he spoke, there was total silence. That’s how much he was respected.
One special moment for Steven McDonald that was really great is he got to see son Conor become a NYPD sergeant following in his father’s footsteps. You better believe the Rangers will dedicate the rest of the season to Conor’s Dad. When the award is presented before the final home game, it will be extra special. Some tears could be shed.
It’s going to be different without him around. He was that former cop who you could always count on for inspiring words. No matter how tough our lives are, all one needs to do is look at Steven McDonald for proof that you can overcome any obstacle and enjoy life. Live it to the fullest.
I may never have met Mr. McDonald. But I felt like I knew him. He made everyone feel that way. He was our friend. Thank you for being the bravest person I know.
Rest In Peace Steven McDonald. We’ll never forget you. 😦 ❤