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Time to accept the second-chance challenge

April 23, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

I try really hard to look at things in a completely different manner than the rest.

So, when I heard that Branko Busick was given five years probation and no jail time, I felt good for the young man, but also knew he was going to be tried, convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion.

Always remember that we do not know what went on behind closed doors and in all those meetings. We just see the outcome.

I wasn't outraged that he wasn't going to the clink.

I was happy he had a new life, so to speak.

I also think his life will be much tougher and better in the next five years than if he was given some sort of prison sentence.

Last week, Busick was sentenced to five years probation after he had pleaded guilty to two counts of assault during the commission of a felony.

The Steubenville Big Red graduate must also perform 250 hours of community service.

Prosecutors were seeking a term of four to 20 years for his actions 10 months ago, and I am guessing Busick himself thought he was going to be put behind bars.

Five character witnesses testified on Busick's behalf - kudos to them - and the judge chose probation instead of jail time.

Understand these were not mistakes on Busick's part.

They were all choices and decisions and all of them bad, foolish, terrible and unacceptable.

He embarrassed himself and his family and now he must go forward and be a far better man than he ever was before this happened.

Dana Holgorsen did not kick Busick off the team, Branko did that himself.

He has to be Mr. Squeaky Clean for the next five years or face jail time.

And, once that probation is over, he must continue that Mr. Clean outlook on life. He needs to be the best he can be each day and that is something hard for any of us to do.

He must continue to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and, basically, not step out of line for any reason or any one.

His life will be far from perfect, but he gets a second chance at life. It is something that every hater out there would want if their child was standing in Busick's shoes.

People look at this sentence and claim there is zero common sense involved.

This is one case that can be debated ad nauseum and people in the room will have to agree to disagree.

Many people cannot wrap their heads around the probation. They do not understand it and seemingly never will. They all claim that if they were in Busick's shoes, they certainly would be in jail and not under house arrest, so to speak.

I understand that, too.

Everything Busick does now not only has his signature on it, but also those who testified on his behalf.

His actions are not just of one, but of six.

The way he looks speaks, acts and lives is about a half-dozen people, not just himself.

If he had been given jail time, life would be all about him and him alone and trying to survive that jail time.

I understand how people think he beat the rap.

I have also listened to people in the system tell me that his five years probation was not out of line.

I have to accept their answers because they are in the system and not myself.

I do know that Busick must grow up, accept and acknowledge what he did, and move on with his life to be an active, positive member of society.

You see, Branko, far too many people still want to see you fail.

That is selfishness.

You know about selfishness because that, among other things, is what got you at this juncture in your life.

You do not need to prove anyone wrong.

You also know that you are living in a world that is far from perfect, as are we people.

We want what we want and we want it now.

People want you in jail.

Make sure they do not get the satisfaction of seeing that happen.

I have said before and will continue to say the same thing, Busick and his family need our prayers continually.

This is not over for them.

They are listening to haters claim their son is a thug and should be tossed in jail.

These last 10 months sure have not been easy on them.

"Let brotherly love continue." - Hebrews 13:1

Did Busick show it during his two months of stupidity?


But, he, like all of us, still deserves it. Busick failed as a son, brother, friend, athlete and student.

He is being allowed to take that failure and turn it around.

That is one thing Busick must take quite seriously and I am sure he is and will.

I would like to see him be a leader again, this time in another role.

The young man knows what to expect.

How did Branko get to where he got during those months?

I do not know.

But, I do know this - he put himself above others and when we do that, bad things happen.

We, as individuals, are No. 5 on the list - behind 1. God, 2. Family, 3. Friends, 4. Others.

If we all can do that on a daily basis, our lives get better and so does the lives of others around us.

We must look in the mirror only after the other four have been tended to first.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." - Matthew 16:24

Jesus is talking about taking responsibility, developing character and renouncing selfish pursuits.

"...Let him deny himself..."

It is not easy to do things that take character.

We all know that.

Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin is taking way too much grief for her testimony as a character witness.

She easily could have said "no" when asked to be a character witness.

She easily could have looked at the potential backlash and been selfish.

She easily could have followed herself and only herself and not helped a young man.

She chose to help and she is getting beat up for it.

Maybe this will make her even a better prosecutor.

She took her responsibility after being asked and talked about Busick's character as she had seen it.

She was not around him while he was at WVU.

She talked about Busick as a leader and a role model - something he clearly was not during his time of self-afflicting wounds.

If you do not want to vote for her because she stood up and took a stand, so is your right.

She was not selfish. She denied herself.

Hanlin did not run away from the hot seat.

She sat on it.

Congratulations to her.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" - Matthew 16:25-26

Busick must pay $1,500 in court fees and restitution. During his probation he cannot come into contact with a convicted felon, cannot be with people using drugs or alcohol and cannot come into contact with drugs or alcohol.

He must continue to go to school or work and must stay in AA.

Let me ask you this - what would have been better, two years of jail time or five years of probation?

"You are treasured, you are sacred and you are His." - Mercy Me

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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