In October 2017, the life of Milwaukee Brewers prospect Bubba Derby changed forever. He was one of the thousands of people who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire. 58 people lost their lives, but Derby helped two complete strangers avoid becoming one of the victims.
The ordeal had a major impact on Derby. And even though he escaped with his life, he wanted to find a way to pay tribute to the 58 people who didn’t.
He’s had “58 Strong” embroidered on his baseball glove, telling MLB.com “It’s as much of a tribute as I can think of for the 58 souls that were lost on the night I was there. It’s just something for those families and those people to let them know they’ll never be forgotten and they’re always in my heart, and I’m always thinking about them.”
During the shooting, Derby acted as a human shield for two women, grabbing their hands and helping them run away when they were paralyzed with fear. He stayed with them throughout the entire evening, and then Derby’s family welcomed them into their hotel room until the women could reunite with their friends early the next morning.
Derby thinks about what happened every day. And told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy that he’s glad to be getting back into the swing of normal baseball life.
“It’s nice getting back to my routine, seeing a lot of my close friends and just being with the boys,” Derby said. “For a few rough months after the incident, it’s hard to go about your day thinking about what happened. You ask yourself some questions that you typically don’t want to ask yourself.
“Getting back after it is really nice. It just kind of helps me forget about everything and get back to work.”
Getting back into a routine has helped Derby, but the Brewers have also made personnel available to him should he ever need to talk about how he’s feeling. He’s leaned on some of his teammates, and Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan, and he’s also talked about the incident at a few speaking engagements. But Derby told MLB.com that he’s ready to stop giving interviews about the shooting — his strategy to get through life right now is to take things as they come.
Looking ahead, he says he will “take things one day at a time.”
He says that a lot.
“I guess I used to say it a lot before, but now I say it all the time,” Derby said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing I live by from here on out. Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t worry about yesterday. Focus on today and we’ll get through it.”
Derby’s like anyone who has survived a violent and traumatic event. He’s just trying to find a way to live his life as a person who has been irreversibly changed by what he’s experienced. For Derby, seeing that “58 Strong” on his glove helps him and motivates him. And he’ll take all that with him as he works through the 2018 season.
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