ROSEMARY BEACH — Every Thanksgiving, many of us will give thanks for having known Scott Driver, who died a year ago of a heart attack at age 53.
Scott was my best friend since college, a larger-than-life man who made everyone feel special. At his funeral, a daughter of one of our friends summed him up best: “When Scott came into a party and you heard his voice, you smiled knowing he was there.”
He went to California to play college football, but like many, ended up back home at The University of Memphis, where we witnessed each other coming into our own. He would always say, “Hart, you are a genius with a capital J.”
Scott and I valued our collection of friends. To be one of those friends, a person had to make you think, laugh, or have your best interests at heart. Scott did all three.
Once we became old enough to know who we were and what we valued, the importance of old friendships grew to mean more than money, jobs and all that life threw at us. Our families and five others vacationed in the Destin area for 20 years; he loved the Gulf Coast.
Scott was the best kind of friend; he could be your strongest critic and your biggest proponent at the same time. He always admired you behind your back, but somehow you knew. A good friend will only get in your way if you are going in the wrong direction.
He grew up with rough and tumble brothers, so he could argue vehemently with you one moment and buy you a drink the next. He never held grudges; he forgave and forgot — an important human trait essential for long-term relationships.
In the two weekends before he died, we went on golf trips: with my son to Merion and with another group to The Honors. In truth, it could be a public, state park course, which was actually more fun since he could play his Stone Temple Pilots on his Putman-programmed iPod from the golf cart — loud — while we played, and he never missed the chance to belt out the lyrics he thought he knew.
He could hit a drive 300 yards and his 95-yard sand wedge just as far on his approach shot. In golf, he was only as happy as his last shot.
We both had ADD, but somehow we grew calmer in each other’s presence. Memphians, fond of their hunting, would always try to get us to go with them to enjoy “their patient sport.” Driver would say, “Hunting is not a sport, Junior. A sport is where both sides know they are participating.”
Scott loved his Tiger basketball. Coach Josh Pastner came to his memorial golf tournament at Chickasaw last month (an annual event to raise money for Street Ministries); Scott would have been pleased. He was visibly shaken when former Memphis coach John Calipari coached his way out of a 9-point lead with two minutes to go in the National Championship game. He said that for days he would walk down the hall, see his son, Gregory, and not be able to make eye contact.
During Tigers games, he sat behind the opponents’ bench, riding the opposing team's coaches. His favorite was Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins, who always dressed like a lookout for a massage parlor. Driver would give him a fashion tongue lashing, and then as the Tigers scored he would yell, “How about that, Mr. S & K three-piece suit?!”
It was amazing to see how people came together and attended his funeral. He used to say, “No matter how important you think you are, attendance at your funeral will depend a crap load on the weather.” Scott would have said about his funeral in his faux-bravado, “this is not about me; it is about what you think of me.”
Scott loved his wife, his family, and his friends, and he made Memphis a better place. He was a sweet soul. He always left the campground cleaner than he found it. He will be missed.
A syndicated op-ed humorist, award winning author and TV/radio commentator, you can reach him at Ron@RonaldHart.com, Twitter @RonaldHart or visit RonaldHart.com