Kathy Ireland: This is American Family Insurance ambassador, Kathy Ireland, welcoming you as we break through to dream fearlessly.
On screen: Break / Through logo, presented by American Family Insurance.
Kathy Ireland: Please welcome, to Break Through, Mr. Derek Jeter. Welcome, Derek.
Derek Jeter: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
Kathy Ireland: Derek, there's a legendary story about you being away from home, the first time, being very homesick. And it was a time where you could either break down or break through.
Can you share with us how you chose to break through?
Derek Jeter: I was drafted when I was 17. I left the day after my 18th birthday and, really, the only time I've been away from home was when I went to see my grandparents in New Jersey.
So, here I was going from Michigan down to Tampa, Florida, and struggling for the first time because, I never really struggled before.
Kathy Ireland: What was the struggle?
Derek Jeter: I got there and I was completely overmatched playing against the best players in the world. And constant phone calls at night, crying every night, being away from home, homesick — I didn't give up. I kept fighting, kept battling. And, you know, anytime I struggled from that point forward, I always used to say to myself, well, it's not as bad as when I first started.
So, you need to experience success, but I think, more importantly, you need to experience failure.
Kathy Ireland: Right — right. So, what would you say to a young person who is going through similar struggles and considering just giving it up?
Derek Jeter: Keep fighting. You know, you have to have a short memory. And everyone's been there. And if they're telling you that they haven't, then it hasn't meant enough to them and they're not telling you the truth.
Kathy Ireland: Derek, Sharlie shared with me that she was diagnosed with cancer in her senior year of college. And so many families are facing that tragedy. What can you share that will inspire, and encourage, people who are going through such challenges.
Derek Jeter: Yeah, my sister — right before her 21st birthday — she was diagnosed with cancer. And when I was growing up, you heard someone had cancer, it was an automatic death sentence.
Kathy Ireland: Terrifying.
Derek Jeter: And that was it. But her strength that she had, instead of taking time off and going through her treatments, she wanted to have her treatments and still continue to go through school. I thought that it was very powerful. I thought it was encouraging to me. But she fought hard.
And, you know, just to be there as a family. I miss my sister — I left when she was in the eighth grade — so I wasn't home when she went through high school, and then she's dealing with this. And you know, I'm in New York playing. So, we had a lot of phone calls at night. A lot of conversations that went very, very late. But any time I would struggle, I'd always say, well, how can I complain about what I'm doing on the field when I have my sister that's battling cancer?