James Cracknell and girlfriend Jordan Connell lead Sports Personality Stars

SPOTY contenders and awards royalty, including James Cracknell and Will Bayley, have filed into Aberdeen's The P&J for tonight's event.

The BBC's showcase event for the sporting year will see the great and the good from the world of sport with a generous smattering of celebrities thrown into the mix.

James Cracknell and his new girlfriend Jordan Connell looked totally loved up as they strolled the red carpet at the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year event.

Hosted by station regulars Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan, the invited guests made a star-studded red carpet arrival ahead of the show going live on BBC1 from 7pm.


  • Fans notice unfortunate Gabby Logan slip-up during Sports Personality of the Year 2019

  • James Cracknell's ex Beverley Turner sometimes wants to 'order assassin to take him out'

Olympic rower James, 47, looked typically dapper in a smart two-piece suit – which he accessorised with a tie to match his girlfriend's dazzling deep red gown.

Hitting the red carpet together for the first time, both James and Jordan appeared thrilled to be making their first public appearance together.

New Yorker Jordan, 34, dazzled in a glittering red gown with a sexy thigh-high split and sequin embellishments.

The Cambridge University student teased a glimpse at her toned legs which she accentuated with a pair of black, pointed stiletto heels.

The duo flirtatiously giggled and couldn't keep their hands off each other as they cosied together for their first official red carpet walk.



  • James Cracknell says he'll 'never dance again' after being booted off Strictly

James' appearance comes just a day after his re-appearance on the Strictly Come Dancing final.

The Olympian was the first celebrity to be voted off Strictly Come Dancing this year after struggling to impress on the dancefloor with his professional partner Luba Mushtuk .

James has since vowed never to dance again after being kicked off the BBC dance competition in the second week of the live shows.

James' dancing was labelled as "lethargic" during his time on Strictly, with the judges suggesting that he needed to put as much energy into dancing as he did with rowing.

The rower failed to win over the audience and judges with his wooden tango and stiff jive, but highly commended professional partner Luba for trying to teach him to dance.

James' red carpet debut with Jordan first hit headlines after he was snapped locking lips with his new girlfriend just a month after his divorce was finalised in the summer.


  • Strictly's James Cracknell denies crying after brutal score and getting kicked off

They had previously rumoured to have been dating, but have since made their romance official.

The new relationship comes just months after James' divorce from Beverley Turner, 45, was finalised in July.

The former couple were married for 17 years and had three children together, but called time on their relationship in March.

They married in 2002 and are parents to Coryde, Kiki and Trixie.

The split was confirmed in a statement: “We can confirm that sadly we separated last year. Together, we remain committed to our amazing children, they are our absolute priority.”

Several months after the split, reports suggested James had been growing close to finance student Jordan, who was part of a university cheerleading team.


  • Will Bayley returns to Strictly Come Dancing to perform for first time since injury

The duo flirtatiously giggled and couldn't keep their hands off each other as they cosied together for their first red carpet

The paralympic table tennis player, 31, beamed his dazzling smile as he made a smart appearance at the highly-anticipated event.

Will looked charming in a smart black suit with a matching grey tie, while he rocked a rugged style with sexy stubble framing his face.

The paralympian's appearance at the event also comes after he returned to the dance floor last night alongside James at the Strictly Come Dancing grand final.

The sportsman was forced to pull out of the hit BBC One dance show in November after suffering from a sudden injury during rehearsal.



  • Love Island's Amber Gill spotted getting close to Joe Garratt in steamy club clinch

Joining the former Strictly contestants on the SPOTY red carpet was Love Island reality stars Michael Griffiths and Joe Garratt.

The pair, 27 and 23, looked as dapper as ever as they flashed their cheeky grins on the star-studded red carpet.

Joe rocked a classic tuxedo while Michael opted for a glittering suit jacket with a quirky shirt and red pocket square.

Joe's appearance on the red carpet comes just days after he hit headlines following his break-up with Love Island Lucie Donlan.

The star was spotted getting close to Love Island winner Amber Gill in a club on Friday night.

Another star caught up in reality TV drama, Chelcee Grimes, made her appearance at the SPOTY red carpet tonight.

Chelcee, 27, famously dated Love Island and Celebs Go Dating bombshell Megan Barton Hanson.

Megan and Chelcee went public with their relationship during a visit to Manchester's Etihad Stadium – Chelcee's not just a wildly successful song-writer, but also a footballer for Fulham Ladies.

Chelcee turned heads at the event as she stepped out and made a bold fashion statement in an unusual polka-dot suit.


Also looking sensational at the event was host Gabby Logan.

The TV veteran, 46, wowed as she took to the stage in a black dress with one-shouldered cut-out detailing accentuating her toned frame.

The awards night ended with Ben Stokes being named Sports Personality of the Year, followed by Lewis Hamilton who came in second and Dina Asher-Smith finishing third.

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Charli D’Amelio Went to a High School Ball With a Fan!

Charli D’Amelio is keeping a promise to a big fan!

The 15-year-old TikTok star joined Connor Hogan at his high school ball after he invited her during a meet and greet last month.

Connor drove quite the distance to get to the event and came bearing a cute sign asking Charli to the dance. Of course, she had to say “sure!”

Over the weekend, Charli took to her Instagram to shared a glam photo from the ball!

“he came to see me at my meet and greet a couple weeks ago and i for ‘sure’ kept my promise!” Charli captioned the photo.

READ MORE: Make sure to check out some of Charli‘s best TikToks!

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Box Office: Clint Eastwood Suffers Worst Opening in Four Decades With ‘Richard Jewell’

Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, the drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters.

It’s a disappointing result for Eastwood, marking one of the worst nationwide openings of the 89-year-old’s directorial career. His only movie to endure a worse fate was 1980’s “Billy Bronco” with $3.7 million. Should “Richard Jewell” come in ahead of expectations by even $200,000, that would propel it just barely above 1997’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” ($5.2 million) and 1999’s “True Crime” ($5.2 million) in terms of Eastwood’s inaugural outings.

“It started out with so much promise in terms of awards season buzz,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “You’ve got a really high-profile filmmaker with a movie that had a lot of acclaim.”

Eastwood’s films don’t traditionally have huge opening weekends — his strongest being 2014’s “American Sniper” ($89 million) followed by 2016’s “Sully” ($35 million) — but tend to benefit from strong multiples. Likewise, December releases usually see smaller starts and can enjoy long legs during the holiday season. Heading into the weekend, “Richard Jewell” was expected to earn $10 million. Given the crowded market, sources estimate that “Richard Jewell” could tap out in North America with $25 million to $30 million and might result in tens of millions in theatrical losses. The movie cost $45 million to produce.

Popular on Variety

“Richard Jewell” made headlines of its own, coming under fire for its portrayal of the late Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist Kathy Scruggs. The film suggests the reporter, portrayed by Olivia Wilde, offered to trade sex with an FBI agent (played by Jon Hamm) for a scoop about the case. Scruggs, with reporter Ron Martz, broke the story of Jewell being under suspicion by the FBI. He was cleared after 88 days.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution requested that Warner Bros. note “some events were imagined for dramatic purposes.” However, Warner Bros. shot back, releasing a statement last week that said, “The film is based on a wide range of highly credible source material.”

Wilde responded to the controversy on Twitter, addressing Eastwood’s artistic license. “I cannot speak for the creative decisions made by the filmmakers, as I did not have a say in how the film was ultimately crafted, but it’s important to me that I share my personal take on the matter,” Wilde wrote, adding “Nothing in my research suggested she did so, and it was never my intention to suggest she had.”

Unlike the breakout success of “Joker,” the debate surrounding “Richard Jewell” did little to inspire interest among moviegoers. The sparse ticket buyers who did show up on opening weekend enjoyed the film, awarding it an A CinemaScore. Nearly 60% of crowds were male, while half were over the age of 50 — a typical result for an Eastwood film.

“It’s hard to know what it would have done without the controversy,” Dergarabedian said. “The controversy created huge conversation for a movie that opened under what people expected. That being said, because we’re talking about it, there may be that curiosity factor that brings people out.”

Despite a soft start, box office experts predict there’s a chance “Richard Jewell” can endure in theaters around Christmas. Last year, his crime drama “The Mule” kicked off with $17 million and ended its domestic box office run with $103 million.

“Often, you’ll see adult dramas in the holiday season leg out even if they don’t generally pop on opening weekend,” Dergarabedian adds. “Eastwood’s movies tend to appeal to more mature audiences who aren’t known to rush out. It can be more of a slow-burn marathon.”

“Richard Jewell” continues a rocky trajectory at the box office for Warner Bros. It is the studio’s eighth movie in 2019 to debut to less than $10 million — an ignominious bunch that includes “The Goldfinch,” “The Good Liar” and “Motherless Brooklyn.” Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” is an undisputed win, however, grossing over $1 billion from a $62 million budget.

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Death in Paradise: Is anyone from season 1 still on the show?

The upcoming season of Death in Paradise will once again see a change in casting. Actor Ardal O’Hanlon, who plays DI Jack Mooney, will be making his exit sometime during season nine and will be replaced by The Royle Family actor Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker. O’Hanlon is one of many actors who have left the series over the years, but who is still left in the BBC One show from its debut season?

Is anyone from Death in Paradise season 1 still on the show?

Catherine Bordey – Élizabeth Bourgine

Catherine has been in Death in Paradise since the show’s second-ever episode, called Wicked Wedding Night.

She is also the mother of Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey (Sara Martins) who left the show in the fourth series.

Catherine owns Catherine’s Bar on the beach-front and is often a place where the locals and officers go to relax.

Away from the island, Bourgine has mainly appeared on French television, taking on roles in more than 60 films and TV shows.

READ MORE

  • Death in Paradise: Ben Miller returns to Saint Marie – here’s how

Commissioner Selwyn Patterson – Don Warrington

Actor Warrington is the only cast member who has been in the show from season one, episode one, entitled Arriving in Paradise.

He is in charge at Saint Marie’s Honoré Police Station, and has been the boss of DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller), DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall), DI Jack Mooney and will soon be Neville’s in the upcoming season.

Very little is revealed about his private life will but his niece Ruby Patterson (Shyko Amos) recently became a new police officer on the team so we might be getting more of an insight into his life in future episodes.

Warrington has appeared in numerous theatre productions and television roles including Hamlet, New Street Law and To Play the King.

He also played the President of Great Britain in an alternative universe in Doctor Who episode Rise of Cybermen.

These are the only two actors who have remained on the show from the first season.

DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) and Officer JP Hooper (Tobi Bakare) are both long-term characters but neither of them was there at the beginning.

Florence worked alongside Humphrey before Jack joined the team and Hooper learnt on the job with Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules) as his partner before he left in 2018.

But why did some of the leading cast members decide to leave the show?

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Richard was the show’s first detective but actor Miller left the series in season three as his partner was having a baby and could no longer commit to working abroad for long periods of time.

His replacement was Humphrey played by Marshall who made his exit also for family reasons.

He told RadioTimes he and his wife agreed he could do the show for a few years until raising a young family “became impractical”.

He said: “It was always quite a finite thing. I certainly didn’t hide it from anyone I work with. I’m going to miss it terribly.”

O’Hanlon is the most recent actor to announce he will be leaving the show.

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No official reason has been given for his departure but in a statement, he said: “It’s time to move to this page on and explore other opportunities – preferably nearer the Arctic Circle.

“I’m confident that Death in Paradise will go from strength to strength and viewers will share my enthusiasm for Jack’s successor!”

Actor Little will be taking over the role as lead detective but when he will make his debut and Mooney will leave Saint Marie has yet to be revealed.

Death in Paradise returns in January 2020 on BBC One. 

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10 Best Narrative Films of 2019, From 'Parasite' to 'The Irishman' (Photos)

Decade in Review: “Marriage Story” and “Booksmart” rank among the highlights of the decade


Between the internet and impeachment hearings, there were certainly plenty of reasons to stay home in 2019, but those who ventured out to movie theaters (and enough people are still doing that to keep the industry alive, if somewhat besieged) were rewarded with a fascinating array of work, even if some of those films were produced by and destined for one streaming service or another. And while #FilmTwitter might have argued over the effects of Netflix on the filmgoing experience, several observers noted that the back-and-forth discussions about “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” meant that the service was doing a lot to put adult-aimed dramas in front of viewers and into the public discourse. (The taking of sides in the Martin Scorsese vs. Marvel conflict, alas, continues with no end in sight.)

11-20 (alphabetically): “Charlie Says,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” “The Farewell,” “Fast Color,” “The Nightingale,” “Non-Fiction,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” “Wild Nights with Emily”

10. “High Life”Director Claire Denis’ bleak vision of the future posits that mankind’s journey into outer space will be little more than an extension of the prison-industrial complex, with society’s “undesirables” shot out into the deep recesses of the universe where they can more easily be forgotten and neglected. It’s a dismal prospect that she nonetheless turns into captivating cinema.

9. “Her Smell”Elisabeth Moss devours the screen as a bad-girl rocker whose eventual implosion doesn’t rule out the possibility of redemption. Teaming once again with writer-director Alex Ross Perry, they create a lived-in vision of the ups and downs of stardom, with a low-key buzz of optimism that’s been missing from Perry’s brilliant and blistering previous films.

8. “Booksmart”There have been many one-crazy-night movies about high-schoolers going wild, but none of them have been quite like this witty and empathetic coming-of-age tale, directed by first-timer Olivia Wilde and featuring indelibly funny performances from Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever.

7. “3 Faces”Still technically under house arrest and forbidden to make films, Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi nonetheless continues to craft powerful tales about lives lived in repression, like this story of a director and a well-known star (Panahi and Behnaz Jafari play versions of themselves) who travel to a rural community to track down a young actress they fear may have committed suicide.

6. “Marriage Story”Noah Baumbach’s scenes-from-a-divorce drama starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson (both giving searing performances) was insightful, funny, poignant, powerful and devastating in ways that felt human-sized and relatable, even as they played out in the LA/NYC nexus of showbiz life.

5. “Diane”Legendary character actor (and writer and director and musician) Mary Kay Place makes the most of a rare starring role, giving an unforgettable performance as a woman grappling with regrets and responsibilities. Writer-director Kent Jones makes an auspicious debut with this ice-flecked, intuitive drama, but it’s Place’s show all the way.

4. “Parasite”Bong Joon Ho’s blistering examination of lives pushed to extremes in late-stage capitalism takes one unpredictable turn after another, but winds up placing viewers squarely in Where We All Live Now.

3. “The Irishman”Martin Scorsese’s gangster sagas have always been stealth morality plays, in which the wages of sin are death or obsolescence, and he plunges into those ideas with this tale of a mob flunky (Robert De Niro is searing in the title role) who sacrifices his relationships (particularly with his daughter) for a warped sense of honor and duty.

2. “Pain and Glory”Visionary filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar looks inward at his own physical strife and fear of having to give up the work that he loves in this semi-autobiographical portrait of a director (Antonio Banderas, doing career-defining work) so hemmed in by physical, mental and emotional ailments that he’s unable to create.

1. “Little Women”Writer-director Greta Gerwig goes deep into an oft-adapted chestnut of American literature and crafts a tale of art and obsession, love and family, resilience and determination and, yes, feminism, finding new avenues of expression and artistry within the pages of the Louisa May Alcott novel. It’s the kind of sweeping film experience that feels grandly traditional and breathlessly contemporary, all at the same time.
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Nicki Minaj Pays Tribute To Juice WRLD At Billboard’s Women In Music Event

Nicki Minaj paid tribute to late rapper Juice WRLD while speaking after accepting the Game-Changer Award at Billboard‘s 2019 Women in Music event on Thursday.

Normani presented Minaj the award for her boundary-breaking achievements in music.

Minaj recalled an occasion of walking to the stage with Juice WRLD during her The Nicki Wrld Tour earlier this year.

“I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice WRLD. I had a great conversation with him and while we walked to the stage, he held my hand and told me to stay calm and to pray. He said that he had been trying to do just that,” an emotionally moved Minaj said.

She added, “I was so shocked to hear him of all people tell me that, but right there in that moment with him telling me that, I actually did feel calm and I felt like, ‘Hmm… what am I actually worried about?’ I felt like he was a kindred spirit.”

Juice WRLD died after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway airport on December 8.

The hip-hop artist, 21, suffered a seizure in the terminal after he landed at Chicago on a private jet from Los Angeles accompanied by his friends.

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Nicole Scherzinger health: X Factor star’s ‘horrible paralysing disease’

Nicole Scherzinger, 41, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and has Filipino, Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Ukrainian ancestry. The singer dropped out of university to pursue her dream of singing, starting off with the short-lived girl group Eden’s Crush. Her passion and drive never deterred her from where she wanted to be and eventually she became the lead singer in the mega-successful group The Pussycat Dolls. It was during this time forging her musical success that Nicole began to adopt some unhealthy habits.

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During Nicole’s twenties she began to struggle with the way she viewed herself and started to develop an eating disorder.

Nicole described those years as a “dark time” in her life.

Nicole became bulimic and what started out as minor problem began to overtake her life.

Revealing her dark past, Nicole spoke to Cosmopolitan and said: “Thinking about it I try not to well up…. It is such a horrible paralysing disease and it was such a dark time for me.

That’s why I can empathise so much with people who have demons and voices in their heads, who aren’t nice to themselves.

“It robs you of living your life. But you can recover and you can get rid of it forever. I did it and that’s why it’s so important for me to share my story.”

What is an eating disorder

The NHS said: “An eating disorder is when you have an unhealthy attitude to food, which can take over your life and make you ill.

“It can involve eating too much or too little, or becoming obsessed with your weight and body shape.

“There are treatments that can help and you can recover from an eating disorder.”

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Over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders.

Recent studies suggest that as many as 8 percent of women have bulimia at some stage in their life.

The condition can occur at any age but mainly affects women aged between 16 and 40. In 2007 the NHS information centre stated that up to 6.4% of adults displayed signs of an eating disorder.

This research also suggested that up to 25 percent of those showing signs of an eating disorder were male.

Nicole admitted in the interview it took her blacking out on the floor to realise she had to get help.

She said: “I started losing my voice, I couldn’t sing at shows, and then I remember my manager finding me passed out on the floor in Malta or in the south of France.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to lose everything I love if I don’t love myself.’ “It’s sad to see how I wasted my life.

“I had such a great life on the outside, the Dolls were on top of the world but I was miserable on the inside. I’m never letting that happen again you only get one life.”

Nicole is now in a much better place and can be seen on the X Factor: The band. She hopes to be an inspiration to anyone else suffering from the disease and give hope that you can overcome it. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder it’s important to speak with your GP about the best treatment.

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Arsenal ratings: Mesut Ozil useless, Sokratis a shambles with Gabriel Martinelli best of a bad bunch – The Sun

ARSENAL once again put on a masterclass in how not to defend as they were blown away by Manchester City at the Emirates.

The Citizens ran out easy 3-0 winners in North London as Kevin De Bruyne netted a double, while Raheem Sterling also got on the score sheet.

The Gunners remain in ninth spot in the Premier League, meaning they are as close to the bottom three as they are to the top four.

There weren't even many boos come the full-time whistle with fans now used to turning up to their ground expecting to be played off the pitch.

Freddie Ljungberg started a side supporters were keen to see, but the majority of the players failed to turn up as they were no match for City's free and fast-flowing football.

With a new manager surely soon to be appointed, you wouldn't be surprised if half of those that started are nowhere near the starting XI next season.

Here's how SunSport's Jake Lambourne rated and slated the Gunners.

BERND LENO – 6/10

Could do nothing about City's goals, and prevented De Bruyne from scoring his hat-trick with another save of the season contender.

Made multiple stops in the second half to stop the game from being a 6-0 loss.

AINSLEY MAITLAND-NILES – 4

He's not a right-back and shouldn't be played there. Looked vulnerable whenever City attacked down the flanks, and was caught out on multiple occasions.

It's unfair on the the ex-Ipswich loanee to keep having to play in defence, because he struggles in one-on-one situations and fails to track runners.

CALUM CHAMBERS – 4

Arsenal fans have been begging for Chambers to start in central defence, but the former Southampton man struggled to live with Gabriel Jesus.

For both the first and second goals he failed to close down quick enough, but he wasn't helped out by the lack of support from the midfield.

SOKRATIS – 3

If Arsenal have any ambition whatsoever, they need to get rid of the Greek international in January.

Slow, cumbersome and rash, it's baffling to think how he was once considered as one of the top defenders in Europe during his time at Borussia Dortmund.

Misses the next match against Everton due to suspension, though fans will be happy he won't play no part.

SEAD KOLASINAC – 4

Did a few good runs before he went off injured after being challenged by Rodri.

Defensively still suspect and he again fails to get back to his position quickly.

MATTEO GUENDOZUI – 4

Provided his defence with almost no cover and was ineffective in the final third with the ball at his feet.

The midfielder is undoubtedly a talented footballer, but he simply had no input in the game.

LUCAS TORREIRA – 4

He's meant to be the holding midfielder, so why were the likes of De Bruyne and Phil Foden allowed so much time on the ball on the edge of the box?

Not the player that supporters were raving about last season. If he carries on like this, he needs to be shipped off at the end of the season.

MESUT OZIL – 3

Compare him with De Bruyne – one performs in the big games – the other does not.

His crosses into the box were easily cleared and he failed to create any key chances of note.

Had no right to kick his gloves off in anger after being subbed off. Needs to be sold.

NICOLAS PEPE – 4

Always looked to beat his man and was trying to get in behind the defence, but provided nothing for his team-mates.

For a player that cost £72million, you expect him to do more, no matter what his form is like.

GABRIEL MARTINELLI – 6

The only outfield player that can walk off the pitch proud of their performance.

Martenilli almost broke the deadlock inside 30 seconds after racing clear, but Ederson did well to close him down.

The 18-year-old never stopped running whether it be making attacking sprints or closing down City players.

Signed from the Brazilian fourth-tier in the summer, he is without a doubt Arsenal's best outfield player at the moment. Let that sink in.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANBG – 5

Went close with a header at the start of the second half in what was his only major contribution.

Had no support, and was often a passenger watching the game go past him.



SUBS

BUKAYO SAKA – 5

Came on for an injured Kolasinac in the first half with the winger asked to turn out at left-back.

Didn't disgrace himself and still looked to attack whenever he got the chance.

EMILE SMITH ROWE – 5

A 59th minute substitute for Ozil, the midfielder made a number of dribbles to glide past City players.

But like his team-mates, he couldn't find a killer pass. Should be given a start over Ozil in future games.

JOE WILLOCK – 5

Came on with just ten minutes to go, Willock simply didn't have enough time to make an impact.

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Prayers and pasta: A year after leaving hospital post-stroke, life’s full of simple joys

All journeys begin some place and my greatest adventure began a year ago when my wife, Donna, wheeled me out of the front door of Sea Pines Rehabilitation Hospital in Palm Bay, Florida, to drive me home.

I was unable to walk except a few feet at a time. They made me get and take home a brand-new walker.

I was unable to swallow, not even to control my own saliva. I was tethered to a pole via a feeding tube that attached to my stomach through a hole in my abdomen.

Talking was difficult. I was limited to a few sentences at a time.

But it was Dec. 13 and I was going home for Christmas, some five weeks after being rushed to the emergency room after suffering a brain stem stroke.

Once I got home, I put the walker away — eventually giving it to Sea Pines — and forced myself to walk without it, one step at a time, never far from a couch or chair or someplace to grab should I start to fall. Tied to a pole, I never got far anyway.

Counting miles walked, calories enjoyed

After a few weeks, we got rid of the pole in favor of perfectly balanced boxes of formula that would give me 375 calories through the feeding tube four times a day. Absent the pole, I began a walking program — first making it to the corner down the street, then further and further. In 2019, I have walked more than 650 miles on the beach, along walking trails, across the causeways, and in parks.

But I was still taking nourishment through the tube until three weeks ago, when my ability to swallow suddenly returned.

FLORIDA TODAY Executive Editor Bob Gabordi prepares to head to work for the first time since his stroke in November. (Photo: PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY DONNA GABORDI)

Maybe suddenly is the wrong word. I had been swallowing a little here and there, but never enough to sustain me or even to show much progress during controlled tests in local hospitals.

I ate Thanksgiving Day dinner with my family.

I ate pizza off the buffet at The Pizza Gallery & Grille at The Avenue. Several pieces.

I ate my homemade pasta.

I’ve been eating things I never enjoyed before, like Greek yogurt. Now everything is amazingly delicious.

Curves are not worth death: I’m a plastic surgeon who won’t perform Brazilian Butt Lifts. They’re deadly.

Best of all, I was able to take Holy Communion for the first time since my stroke.  

My swallowing is not pretty just yet but grows stronger every day. I still need to clear my throat when eating, but I’m doing less and less of that. I also can get through whole meals in less time than it was taking me to eat a small portion.

I have worked with amazing therapists, all of whom have followed my progress and have celebrated my success with me. One therapist, who I worked with over the last several months, said it was time for us to stop our regular sessions.

She said she was simply sitting there watching me eat and drink during our last session, and as much as I enjoy her company, she was right. Therapy has taken me as far as it can. The rest is up to me.

I consider it something of a miracle, one accomplished through lots of hard work, but even more prayer.

Inspiration sometimes needs a boost

I have been told by many readers and friends in the community that the story of my recovery from stroke — and my writing about it —– inspires them.

I appreciate that, but don’t see it that way at all.

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It is a story of hard work and prayer, that is true. I have felt the impact of the community’s good wishes. Living through the early days of the stroke was a matter of amazing medical treatment. At Sea Pines, I was pushed to work hard to get stronger and learned what it would take to get back to being myself.

But what inspires me, what I see as the real miracle, is the hope and love I have felt from the first day of my stroke from my family and from you, the readers who have reacted to my columns. You have lifted me up when I was less than inspired.

And I’m forever grateful that if I had to have something like this happen, that it taught me how to never quit hoping and that prayers really do get answered.

Bob Gabordi is the president/CEO of Gabordi Media and former executive editor of FLORIDA TODAY, where this column originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter: @bgabordi

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Ohio State at Minnesota odds, picks and best bets

The Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will tangle in the Twin Cities with the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5, 0-1 Big Ten) in a Big Ten Conference battle at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday. We analyze the Ohio State-Minnesota odds and betting lines, while providing college basketball betting tips and advice on this matchup.

Ohio State at Minnesota: Three things you need to know

1. The Buckeyes really burst onto the national scene by hammering North Carolina at the Dean Dome Dec. 4. With a victory the Buckeyes might ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings for the first time since 2010-11.

2. The Golden Gophers are a game below .500, but they have had a tough schedule during the early going. They have losses to Oklahoma, Butler, Utah, DePaul and Iowa, in the Big Ten opener.

3. Ohio State has covered the spread in seven straight games, including six in a row as a favorite.


Get some action on this game or others by placing a bet at BetMGM!


Ohio State at Minnesota: Odds, betting lines and picks

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated at 10:45 a.m. ET.

Prediction

Ohio State 74, Minnesota 67

Moneyline (ML)

Ohio State (-333) is expected to win this one, but as a moderate favorite the moneyline isn’t worth a play, as you’d have to risk way too much for a small reward. A $10 bet on the Buckeyes to win outright would return a profit of just $3.

Against the Spread (ATS)

MINNESOTA (+8.5, -143) should be able to hang around, as it’s catching four buckets at home. Home teams are actually 11-0 straight up in Big Ten games to date, so Ohio State (-8.5, +120) is on upset alert here. It’s all on the line, as a solid win and it’s likely headed for the top spot in the rankings. But a loss, even against a sub-.500 Minnesota team, wouldn’t be shocking.

New to sports betting? A $10 wager on Minnesota to cover the spread and stay within 8 points in a loss or win outright would profit $7 if it does so.

Over/Under (O/U)

OVER 128.5 (-120) seems criminally low, but perhaps I am overvaluing the Buckeyes offense based on the fact they dropped a triple-digit total against Penn State in the conference opener. While the Under has been the trend for the Bucks, more often than not, the over is 4-1-2 in Minny’s past seven games against winning sides.

Want some action in this one? Place a bet atBetMGM now. For more sports betting picks and tips, visit SportsbookWire.com.

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