An emotional Tony Reali returned to his ESPN show Around the Horn Monday, a day after revealing he both gained a son and lost one.
On Father's Day, Reali revealed that he and his wife, Samiya, had been expecting twin sons. One of the sons, Amadeo, died in the moments leading up to childbirth. The other, Enzo, was delivered weeks early and was finally released from the hospital last week.
"The duality of all this — the anguish and the joy — is impossible to grasp," Reali wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread on Sunday. "But it's one we know we must navigate. For me that means two things: giving voice to our feelings, and allowing others to lift us when we can't shoulder the load of those feelings."
Following Monday's Around the Horn, Reali's ESPN colleague Israel Gutierrez ceded the final moments of the show to let the host open up about his loss. Reali, choking back tears, said it's OK not to be OK, and opened up about the heartbreaking loss he and his wife are grappling with.
"Grief is part of humanity. Grief is proof of humanity," Reali said. "Don't bury your heart — keep it on the outside and look to other people. Because humanity can lift us. That has been my experience."
Reali's thoughts quickly turned to the situation at the Mexican border and the growing outrage over the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy, which has led to the forced separation of families and the detainment of thousands of minors in facilities throughout the South.
"Today my thoughts are with children in cages. That's parents experiencing loss too. Humanity needs to be better," Reali said. "Amadeo, I'll love you forever. You're named for God's love. May we all be craving it. May we all be giving it to each other. May we all be compassionate enough to give it to all."
Back in June, following Roseanne Barr's racist tweet about former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett, ESPN reportedly warned its talent about weighing in on controversial, non-sports matters on social media.
The warning appears to have worked, as most ESPN personalities (including the politically outspoken Keith Olbermann) appear to have avoided the situation at the border, despite the situation dominating news coverage on Monday.
Jemele Hill, a columnist at ESPN's Undefeated and one-time Inquirer intern, shared a Gallup poll from 1942 that showed a majority of Americans supported internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, a comparison to Trump's border policy also made by former First Lady Laura Bush in a column that blasted the separation of children from their parents as "immoral" and "cruel."
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, a majority of Republicans support the administration's no-tolerance policy of separating parents who crossed the border illegally from their children (though overall, 66 percent of voters told Quinnipiac they opposed the policy).