Andre Agassi Pays Tribute to His Family and Friends
Read Andre Agassi's personal letters thanking the people who have helped throughout his career both on and off the court. Andre referred to the letters during his International Tennis Hall of Fame induction speech on July 9, 2011, in Newport, Rhode Island. The letters serve as a permanent public tribute to those who made his induction a reality.
It is breathtaking to be on the receiving end of your love...
Thank you for giving me your love so freely, so generously. I can't find the words to describe you, but I will try to find the words to express how you make me feel. I feel empowered; with you I believe anything is possible. I feel valued; you care not only deeply, but in such detail, it's breathtaking to be on the receiving end of your love. I feel protected; you always seem to be one step ahead of life, anticipating its next move and disarming it before it affects me. I don't know how you do what you do, but I rely on it like the air I breathe.
I not only need to be with you, I want to be more like you. To have such honest values, and to live by them with such consistency and grace. To listen so carefully, to feel so purely for others, to put your family ahead of yourself and your own needs.
Thank you for our beautiful children, and for being the family's anchor in our busy lives. Somehow, you make it look so easy.
I said something to you seven years ago at the Hall Of Fame, and it bears repeating again today. In my eyes, and the eyes of your children, you have no rival.
One man with a dream and a fire in his gut can build a foundation that future generations will build their lives on...
It is not flesh and blood, but the heart, which makes us fathers and sons. Dad, how I treasure your heart, filled with desire and passion for your children to experience a better life. I knew it as a child, but it was too big a concept for me to fully grasp, that you loved me more than yourself. You did whatever it took to see us thrive. I look back and respect how you raised four kids and held two jobs and always made time for us. You single handedly engineered a mind set in us, that hard work creates rewards, high standards create fulfillment. Your high standards will change the lives of generations of our family that will follow us. One man with a dream and a fire in his gut can build a foundation that future generations will build their lives on.
I saw many sides of you growing up, but I know they all came from a place of just wanting the best for me and our whole family. I've often come away from a great moment in life, and my first thought was, did I make you proud; today I want you to know, you make me proud. Thank you for this life, it was your creation, and I get to live in it.
There were days that only you could make my world feel right side up...
If ever there was a warm, compassionate and selfless person, who makes the world a better place every day, it is you.
How much I loved to hear your voice on the phone when I was out on tour. How calming it was to sense your quiet strength after competing somewhere across the globe. There were days that only you could make my world feel right side up.
What an example you are to me and your grandchildren. You faced down life’s challenges with never-ending strength and somehow still seemed to love life every day. You are the most unshakable person I know, and one that needs to take the least amount of credit in life. How fortunate all of your children were to grow up in a home where you modeled humility before us.
In my Hall Of Fame speech, I celebrated those who always do the right thing quietly, with no applause; those who shine in secret. The unsung heroes. I don't have to look very far to find my unsung hero, I love you Mom.
If I told people the things we've seen and shared together, they just wouldn't believe it...
How I have counted on you in my life, in ways that you've known and in a million ways that you didn't know. Having you for a big brother has been the equivalent of going through life with a safety net. You were always there when I needed to grasp something just out of reach; you were my constant companion, my defender, my partner in crime, and I never once wondered whether you had my back. I sometimes sit back and relish in the memories from childhood when we shared our souls with each other, and you led the way for me with your words and your actions. To my first years on the road, as we approached this strange and wonderful new life together. And now, raising our families together, watching our children make new memories of their own. If I told people the things we've seen and shared together, they just wouldn't believe it.
So many people have moved in and out of my life, but you are the constant; the one I count on and need, forever by my side, always in my corner. I don't know how you put so many of your dreams aside to make sure mine became reality. But I do know that without you, none of the things I hold dear would be in my life today. There are many things to come in life that I may not know, but one thing I know for sure, we will be there for each other with a bond that only we know, for the rest of our lives. I love you, brother.
How can one man be so strong, and yet so tender? How can a man be of so few words, but overflowing with wisdom?...
When it came time for us to name our son, there was only one choice - Welcome to the world, Jaden Gil. If he grows up to be half the man you are, I will be eternally happy. From working out together at the gym at UNLV, to criss-crossing the globe together for two decades, I still watch you and listen to you in amazement. How can one man be so strong, and yet so tender? How can a man be of so few words, but overflowing with wisdom? What would my life be, if not for you? Unrecognizable.
Gil, my whole adult life played out under the umbrella of your love, inspiration and protection. People will never know the places you've been or the depth of what you've done for me. That’s ok - I know, and I'll never forget. You never pushed from behind, you led by example. You never asked me to do one thing that you didn't require of yourself. You never let your integrity be broken, or even bent, not one time. When I say, I love you, there are so many more words that want to be said. I need you, I owe you, I respect you. How much time do I have? How much space can I take?
You gave me your life, your prime, your very best, year after year after year. I will spend the rest of my years trying to express to you the place you hold in my heart.
You lived and breathed tennis, and created an unparalleled generation of champions...
Thank you for being there for me at the most formative times of my life and career. As an adult looking back, I can't imagine what a handful I must have been. You gave me the space to grow and experiment, you gave me counsel and wisdom. You gave me time to get to know my game and myself. I remember in Washington, DC as a teenager, after a painful loss, I gave away all my rackets and told you I quit. You simply looked at your wrist and said, "Am I wearing a watch"? You gave me permission to grow at my own pace, and your belief in me made me want to go on. Most of all, you provided an umbrella of protection as I fell under the glare of the international spotlight. There were days that I felt it was you and me against the world. I'll never forget that.
I want you to know how much I appreciate the love and devotion you have for tennis. You were up at five in the morning, tirelessly creating the environment that we needed to thrive. You lived and breathed tennis, and created an unparalleled generation of champions. The International Tennis Hall Of Fame will not be complete until you are there alongside all of the champions that you gave to the world; a recognition that you have earned and that you so deserve. When that day comes, you can count on me to be there for you in any capacity, sharing that moment together. I love you, Nick.
You had a deep impact on my hopes and dreams, not just as a player, but also as a person...
What an incredible ride we had together. Could anyone have seen me through? Could anyone have held me together and helped me focus like you? Not even close. From the beginning, you had a deep impact on my hopes and dreams, not just as a player, but also as a person. I was young and impressionable, still growing up and finding my way. Your life became a blueprint of what I wanted for myself and what I came to believe was possible. You have an incredible wife and beautiful children, a loving warm home, and you seemed to enjoy traveling but still enjoy coming home even more. All of that inspired me to find the life that I hoped for. For years I would come up to your house, stay for a week in your cabin, and spy on you and your family. More than once I uttered a quiet prayer to have something so special. That prayer has been answered beyond my dreams.
Your leadership was always at work, teaching me to never settle. You were always so optimistic, so sure of what lies ahead, so confident in me. Regardless of my ebbs and flows on the court that day, you promised better days were coming, and I believed you. You taught me how to win from within and to think for myself. When those better days came, over and over again, I wondered more than once, where did you get that insight? How could you see so far into the future? I will always appreciate your ability to be so plugged in to my emotions, your ability to provide context, and your incredible attention to detail. More so, I appreciate how quickly you would jump to my side and stand shoulder to shoulder when I felt ready to tackle the next challenge.
For a while, I got to live a dream on the court. For a lifetime, I'm getting to live a dream off the court. Brad, none of it would have been possible without you.
Your combination of intelligence and care added years to my career...
You have so many of the qualities in life that I value. I not only appreciate your friendship, but I respect how you carry yourself with such class and how you approach life with such good judgment. I've watched and learned so much from you, like how to balance being a new father and travel the world on the tour. Actually, I can say you taught me balance for all of life, a lesson that pays me dividends every single day. You managed my reduced schedule in the final years so delicately, and you taught me so many short cuts to keep an aging body competitive, long after it wanted to give out. I'm convinced that your combination of intelligence and care added years to my career.
You should know just how much I treasure the bond between you and I, and between our families. Our children are best friends, and you and Victoria have been a joy to be around. You live so consistently, practical and drama free; all the things that make me thankful that we got to spend so much time together. When I think of that quality that you possess, of having such impeccable standards on and off the court, it is not surprising that the game and its players have embraced you so deeply.
Thanks for being perceptive enough to know just when I needed to push, and just when it was time for me to go home. Thank you even more for your loyalty. Stefanie, myself, Jaden and Jazz love you and are so fortunate to have you and your family in our lives.
Integrity and honesty is your north star...
My friend; my traveling companion; my business ally. My lifesaver. Although I've known you since I was a teenager, you came into my life full time right when I needed you most. I want the world to know how much you mean to me, my Foundation, and my future. You took the helm of my Foundation, and not only gave it new life and new direction; you donated your entire salary back to it, working for free. You never intended the world to know that, but I want them to know what kind of heart you have.
I feel so safe and so protected with you guiding my business. Integrity and honesty is your north star and you've done something I never thought possible, you make business fun for me. You have had to navigate some delicate waters since you came aboard, but you've proved your expertise at every turn. You mean the world to me. My family and I, down to my children's children, owe you a debt we can never repay.
You live with such clarity, stability and extreme loyalty that I trust your judgment on every level...
You define what true friendship means to me. I think about who you are, what is embedded in your DNA, and it makes me feel selfish because every one should have someone like you in their life. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Ronnie.
You carry other people's burdens; you only want to add to the lives of others. You live with such clarity, stability and extreme loyalty that I trust your judgment on every level. How thankful I am for you. There is such a bond between us that is unshakable, please know that I will be there for you as a friend, as a brother, for life.
What is unspoken between us every day I'll say here proudly to the world, there will never be a closer friend than you.