DENVER -- Two years ago, John Grant Jr. hung up his cleats and said goodbye to his playing days. But it turns out that was more of a ‘see you later.’
“It’s the longest I’ve gone since I was pretty much born, not playing,” Grant Jr. says of his two year hiatus. “Deep down, I think I still wanted to play, I just didn’t think I could.”
Injuries had ultimately forced him off the field, but at the age of 44 he decided he couldn’t stay away. He rejoined the Denver Outlaws, and in his third game back he reached a major milestone — he became the MLL’s all-time scoring leader.
But he says the record wasn’t the driving force behind his comeback.
“I made peace with it, I transitioned to coaching and I was okay with it, but my little girl wasn’t,” he says.
“It was boring to watch him coach,” says Grant Jr.’s 9-year-old daughter, Gabby. “Now that he’s scoring so many goals, he’s awesome.”
Gabby is her dad’s biggest fan and had a front row seat to watch him score four times in the first half alone during the Outlaws home opener on Thursday. She grew up around the sport of lacrosse, so it’s no surprise that she eventually picked up a stick herself. Now, it’s something that she and her dad do together all around the house.”
“We play this game in the backyard where we switch off being the goalie, and we use tennis balls,” Gabby explains. “I always win.”
“I think to quote her, she said ‘well now that you’re not a star anymore, I guess I can be,’” Grant Jr. says, smiling.
“I see so much of her in him, in their play and just seeing them play at the house,” says John’s wife Raygen. “It’s pretty special.”
A special relationship that has led to an already special comeback season.
“He really loves lacrosse and he really loves me, so if you put those together that’s why he did it,” Gabby says.
“People don’t believe me, but I’m doing this for her and for my wife. I just hope I’m not so terrible that they actually get to enjoy this.”