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A Personal Remembrance of Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman
About twelve years ago when I was still living in Los Angeles and working with Youth With A Mission two fellow missionaries and friends of mine befriended Gary Coleman. It was only for a night, but the story came back to me the other day when I learned of his death because the story paints a slightly different portrait of Coleman than all of the anecdotes about his angry and bitter outbursts with the general public.
My friends had gone into Burbank to just walk around when they stopped briefly at an arcade to indulge in just one game. Inside that arcade was Coleman, by himself. He then approached my friends and asked if they wanted to play a game with him. My friends hid their excitement at getting to play arcade games with a childhood star and they joined him. One game became two, and pretty soon a couple of hours had passed and they were still hanging out with Coleman. And by this time, my friends didn’t want to leave him that evening, not because they enjoyed hanging with a celeb, but because Coleman kept trying to convince them to stay. As they tell it, they began to realize that Coleman was one of the loneliest people they had ever met.

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I understood their assessment. How lonely do you have to be to ask complete strangers to play games with you – for hours- even when you’re a celebrity?
So instead of focusing on the gossipy angles of this story, or even the tragic nature of what seems to have been a very unhappy life plagued with physical and emotional problems, Iet’s all take an extra moment to ask the question: Who is the lonliest, perhaps most unlovable, person you can think of? What can you do for them today?

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  • Monique

    Everyone has a little bit of Gary Coleman in them at one time or another. Not to the degree that he had, but we all want to be what we think is ‘normal’. In Gary’s case, he could never be sure if people like him for himself or because of who he was or what he produce for them-even his parents. That’s what made his life such (short as it was) so lonely. It really saddens me that he couldn’t have a normal childhood after Different Strokes, that his parents misappropriated his trust (and his trust fund, and that his life was a constant struggle. But he made me laugh and I was never lonely watching him on television. I’m crying at the dissent and corrupt behavior that his ex-wife displaying trying to market his death, but my heart is smiling knowing that he’s finally in a place where he’s no longer hurt by the vultures that constantly tortured and harangued him while he was with us. Finally Gary is at Peace!

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