Gabriel Player’s grandfather was the main attraction at Spartanburg Day School on Friday morning.
The fourth-grader and his brothers, Sebastian and Damien, joined the rest of the student body in welcoming golf legend Gary Player to the school. Player, a nine-time major winner on the PGA tour, nine-time Senior Tour major winner and one of only five players to win a Career Grand Slam, operates the Player Foundation, which focuses on education for underprivileged children throughout the world. He was at Spartanburg Day on Friday to share part of his message with the students.
He had a lot of fun along the way.
The famously-fit player shared the secrets of staying trim with the students, telling them he does 1,000 abdominal exercises a day four days a week, runs at maximum effort, and works out hard in the gym despite his age.
“I’m 82 years old,” he said with a laugh. “Most people my age are dead.”
The player known as the Black Knight even stumped the school’s basketball All-American, Zion Williamson.
“My grandson tells me you’re really cool. He told me I had to meet his friend Zion,” Player said, calling Williamson from the crowd. “He showed me the things you can do on a basketball court, and they’re amazing. I think I have a physical test you can’t do, though.”
Player then showed Williamson how to hold two golf clubs at arms length parallel to the ground using only his two middle fingers. Williamson failed on three attempts before laughing and returning to his seat.
Player then turned serious, reminding the students how blessed they were to be in a positive learning environment, reminding them to take time to be thankful, and stressing the importance of not just gaining an education, but gaining understanding.
“I’ve traveled more miles than any human who ever lived, and I’ve learned that you have to have an understanding of the world,” he said. “You cannot be so sure that your idea is always the right way.”
Player said his message to the students was from the heart.
“I love speaking to children, because we have 22 grandchildren,” he said. “I just talk to them about working hard, having respect, loving America, realizing how lucky they are to live here, and reminding them they’re lucky to have a school like this. But the main message is to fill your life with love. That’s the single most important thing.”
Gabriel, who said he sees his grandfather one or two times a year, said the day was special for him.
“I already knew some of them, but others were new,” he said of the stories Player shared with the crowd. “I’m very proud of him.”