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238 – Life is Magic!

John Dorenbos, the Magic Man, contacted me from his home in Los Angeles. John grew up in a wonderful family until he was 12 years old, when he came home from playing and learned that his mother was taken from him. John made it through his family’s tragic turn thanks to kinship adoption, lots of counseling, and two outlets he is eternally grateful for –football and magic! John had a long career in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, but an injury that forced him off the field ultimately saved his life. What you’re about to hear is the magic of a man who lives the power of positivity. This is John Dorenbos’s journey.

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238 - Jon Dorenbos - Life Is Magic

[00:00:00] Damon: Hey, it's Damon. Just a quick note to let you know, this is the last show for the end of season 14 of the, who am I really podcast. It's time to take the summer off. I'm going to go do some writing, as you probably can imagine. If you'd like to stay in touch with me and the writing that I'm working on, go to who am I?

[00:00:21] Damon: Really to that's book. And the number two. I'll be sure to keep you posted on how things are going. I hope to see you guys again in season 15 in the fall. Until then. Here's the last one. Are you ready? Let's go.

Cold Cut

[00:00:40] Damon: If you don't give up on yourself, I have found that the world will not give up on you either. It might not happen when you want. It might not happen as quick as you want, but whenever it happens, it's usually the right time with the right people. So sometimes you gotta have patience, but if you don't give up on yourself, the world won't give up on you.

[00:00:58] Damon: But if you give up on [00:01:00] yourself, the world won't Don't be shocked when the world stops showing up for you too.

[00:01:29] Damon: I'm Damon Davis. And today my special guest is the magic man. John Dorenboss. He contacted me from his home in Los Angeles. John grew up in a wonderful family until he was 12 years old When he came home from play and learned, his mother was taken from him. John made it through his family's tragic turn.

[00:01:48] Damon: Thanks to kinship adoption, lots of counseling And two outlets. He is eternally grateful for football and magic. John had a long career in the NFL, but an injury [00:02:00] ultimately saved his life. What you're about to hear is the magic of a man who lives the power of positivity. This is John Doerr and boss's journey.

[00:02:11] Damon: John grew up in Seattle, Washington at an idyllic time before cell phones and kids entertaining themselves on the internet. He said he used to leave the house in the morning and not come home for 10 hours outside playing all over the neighborhood. John had two older siblings, a sister, and a much older brother.

[00:02:29] Damon: Their family life was good. And John was a happy kid. John said he had some reading comprehension challenges as a kid and book learning can be a bit slow for him. His mother dedicated to supporting him, volunteered at his school, working in the library.

[00:02:44] Jon: I love my mom. And, something that my mom taught me when I was a kid and you don't realize this till later in life is the reason you're different or the reason that sometimes you feel insecure, that might be the reason the world needs you.

[00:02:56] Jon: And so just get through this time because this too shall pass right out, [00:03:00] outlast the storm. Let this time go by. And the reason you're different is the reason you're beautiful. The reason you're different is the reason the world needs you right now. And so I was 12 years old playing across the street at a friend's house.

[00:03:11] Jon: And when I went home I discovered that out of nowhere, my dad murdered my mom. And he turned himself in the next day. My sister and I went into temporary foster care and for about nine, about nine, 10 months, I think went through the most intense therapy you could possibly imagine in the state of Washington, first degree murder, which there's a difference between first degree and second degree first degree premeditated.

[00:03:34] Jon: I wrote it down. Here's a plan. I hired a hit man. There was thought execution when the, in the state of Washington at the time. And I don't know if it's changed, but first degree was life in prison or the death penalty. Second degree. It wasn't premeditated. Things happened. Max penalty is 13 years, eight months.

[00:03:51] Jon: So the difference in that is pretty extreme, right? So my dad turned himself in the next day. So it wasn't a matter of whether he was guilty or not. It was [00:04:00] now was it self defense? Was it premeditated? And he knew that if he got second degree He's out in 13, eight, good time, maybe 11. And when you're a kid, that seems like forever.

[00:04:10] Jon: And so my dad ended up turning himself in he was tried for second degree murder, a sentence to 13, eight, and then he was released in about 11 or 12 years. And at that time I didn't just lose my mom. I lost my mom and my dad, I lost two of my favorite people. And so that's when life completely changed for me.

[00:04:28] Damon: First of all, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry that happened. I'm interested to know, these are two kids who are looking at their father being sentenced for as long as you've been alive, right? What was that transition like from a nuclear family to foster care?

[00:04:45] Damon: And then tell me about the transition out of foster care.

[00:04:48] Jon: It's whirlwind.

[00:04:49] Jon: And I was old enough to understand everything that was going on. I was old enough to remember it, to process it, but I was also young enough to where the people around me could really dictate, I [00:05:00] think, the direction in life that I was going.

[00:05:02] Jon: And so my grandparents were pivotal all on my mom's side. My aunt, who is my mom's sister And then the temporary foster home. And so the temporary foster home was so that my sister and I could finish our school year. So I was finishing sixth grade. She was finishing eighth grade. And that following year, we were both going to be going into different schools anyways.

[00:05:17] Jon: So the thought process was let's keep these kids here. Let's finish the upcoming school year and let's do an entire year of therapy with these kids. And so that was my sister and I, so we stayed together. My brother was 18. Look, he was 18 confused and just took off and did his own thing. And I don't blame him for it.

[00:05:34] Jon: It is what it is. And so my sister and I went through this process where we would do therapy multiple times a week individually, and then we would have group sessions with her and I, and the therapist we had was unbelievable. I can credit a lot of the success I've had in life to the emotional intelligence that he gave me emotional stability that he gave me ability to understand and not feel victimized.

[00:05:59] Jon: [00:06:00] The idea that life is going to happen. And it can either be an excuse for you, or you can rise and live in vision. And that time period was, it was everything for my sister and I. And we were in that therapy during the trial when my dad got sentenced. And then my grandparents and my aunt went back down to Southern California where they lived.

[00:06:17] Jon: And then my sister and I stayed up in the Seattle area. And then eventually we moved on down to Southern California with my aunt.

[00:06:23] Damon: Yeah,

[00:06:23] Damon: that I think there's so much in there. One that's rising to live in vision versus being stuck in the moment that has catapulted you from the normalcy that you had into where you, the possibilities that you had to grow with.

[00:06:41] Damon: It's so important to, I think a lot of adoptees end up not staying in their family, but the fact that you got to go to the identity of the family and be nurtured by those who also cared about your mom and your family.

[00:06:54] Damon: So that's incredibly important.

[00:06:56] Damon: In his book life is magic. John [00:07:00] described himself as a big kid who was gifted the opportunity to let out some of his emotions on the football field. When I asked John.

[00:07:07] Damon: about his rise through the ranks of athletics. He reminded me that sports were not his only nor his primary outlet.

[00:07:15] Jon: so I had two outlets cause these come together simultaneously. I was a kid. the school year's over. My aunt now gets custody of my sister and I. We move on down to Southern California and I made the little league all star team.

[00:07:25] Jon: So I went back to Seattle and I lived with the coach and I was also friends with his son. They had a neighbor that was 16 years old and did magic. His name was Michael Gross. So he did like a 30 minute show. They actually videoed it on the old school VHS cameras. And I have that footage. It's amazing.

[00:07:39] Jon: It's the first time I saw a trick and the kid showed me a trick and I was captivated. And for me, what I realized now is it wasn't so much about being a magician. It was more about, it was an outlet and trust me, I do shows and I go speak to companies and stuff. And in my head, I'm like, gosh, why couldn't this kid just

[00:07:56] Jon: like shred a guitar?

[00:07:57] Jon: And I saw like Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or, and I'm [00:08:00] just a rock star. Instead I got into magic. Awesome.

[00:08:02] Jon: But shuffling cards is the only time that the world made sense. And so I was a kid, I would sit down and I would shuffle cards and it could be for minutes, hours. It didn't matter.

[00:08:10] Jon: The sound of the riffle for me. Is where the world quieted. The sound of a riffle is where I felt like just a kid and I wasn't worried about adult issues. I wasn't worried about, losing my mom, my dad, going to prison, foster homes, moving, and just change and so much change. I could sit in a quarter, I could shuffle cards and the world quieted.

[00:08:30] Jon: And it's like that today. And so now I'm a freshman in high school. So yeah, right now it's like seventh, eighth, seventh grade is when I got into the shuffling and the card stuff and the magic. And then I become a freshman in high school and I was a big kid. I definitely grew early. My nickname in junior high was Ogre.

[00:08:44] Jon: That's what they call me. Ogre, get over here. I remember my buddy, Kevin Johanson was like, yo, dude, you should play football. And I was like, No way, dude. Football's for dorks. I like magic. And I didn't know the name of the positions. I didn't know anything [00:09:00] about the game. So he's telling me how to put the pads on.

[00:09:02] Jon: I don't know where the hip pads, knee pads, I don't know anything about football. So all of a sudden we get up there and, I will never forget the moment that coach Craven said, Hey, John, you can hit that guy and not get in trouble.

[00:09:12] Jon: Game on. That sounds pretty cool. Actually. Now I'm not, I was never a big hitter. I wasn't the guy that was just, laying people out like crazy, but I was big and I could hit, and I had a lot of kind of pent up. Emotion and anger in me. And so during the day I could go and hit you and not get in trouble.

[00:09:28] Jon: And at night I could go home and shuffle cards for me. It was the perfect balance. My freshman year we ended up having a guy go down. He was a sophomore outside backer. And then my freshman year, they called me up to varsity. I started in the playoffs in high school as a freshman and. The rest is history.

[00:09:43] Jon: This is actually a great story. Everybody in football knows what a pulling guard is. Okay. It's a lineman and he lines up over here and then he comes around and sweeps around and he pulls to the other side of the field.

[00:09:52] Jon: He goes behind everybody else to the other side.

[00:09:55] Jon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then the running back, the guy carrying the ball would follow him.

[00:09:58] Jon: For years, everybody was like [00:10:00] John, watch the pulling guard. And I'd be like yeah. I had no idea what that was. And I didn't know what that was until I was in a freshman in junior college. And I played at golden West junior college, longest losing streak in college football history.

[00:10:11] Jon: And we, it was like the bad news bears and we didn't have enough guys to feel the team if we got hurt. So coach Hay and coach row would clap. And this is the pace that we would have to move because, and we would step literally, this was the pace that we would run place. And you'd have to step to that beat because if somebody got hurt, we couldn't play a game.

[00:10:29] Jon: Oh, and it was then that Coach Rowe in slow motion was breaking down one of the plays and said, okay, John, here comes the pulling guard. And he took the guard and turned him and walked him down the line. And that was the first time that I was like, Oh, so that's a pulling guard.

[00:10:48] Damon: Experiential learning.

[00:10:50] Jon: Yeah.

[00:10:50] Jon: But what I learned, so it's funny cause like from then on out walkthroughs were where I learned everything. I'm even in the NFL walkthroughs. I didn't need to go full speed. I could [00:11:00] literally do a walkthrough every day and let me just see in, let me see very slowly in front of me, what's going to happen.

[00:11:06] Jon: And then I promise you when the game comes I'll be at speed. Love it. Cause you're not guessing. And so I learned that walkthrough for me was the key. And I just had a knack to go find the ball. I had a knack, I had an energy I wanted to run around. I I wanted to hit people and that was enough to keep getting me to progress through the rankings until I actually learned the game and figured it out.

[00:11:24] Jon: And I'm very thankful that at an early age, I found two things in life that I value, whether I made a career out 'em or not. I have a buddy that's a musician and he was mentoring this woman on playing the guitar and singing and songwriting. And he literally looked at her and he said, Hey, be prepared to have a love affair that you've never had before.

[00:11:42] Jon: And this is going to trump everything. And she was like, what do you mean? You're going to have relationships and they might crash and they might succeed, but this guitar will be with you forever. This guitar is going to understand you more than anybody. And this guitar is always going to listen. And for me, a deck of cards.[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] Jon: Is that it'll always be there. It always listens. And what I found is that for me, when I shuffle cards, the cards never lie to me. If I'm contemplating a decision in my life, I can stand up and know whether what I did was right or wrong. No, whether I treated somebody the right way or the wrong way. If I said something that came out wrong, or if no I am a hundred percent behind what I did, how I acted and what I said, it's just cool to have that in your life to where you can escape from the world and have something that always listens and never lies.

[00:12:28] Damon: That's

[00:12:29] Damon: really amazing because not everybody gets that, right? A lot of people do not receive. The therapy to get to solid ground, to get through something hard, they don't get the opportunity to access not one but two outlets. One physical and the other more potentially mental. And I would argue that potentially both of them were mental as well.

[00:12:52] Damon: And for you to have two outlets that allowed you to express yourself or dive in and listen to the [00:13:00] riffle and let things flow through you is really unbelievable. And you're absolutely right. The cards are like a guitar or any other sort of inanimate object. You attach yourself to them, you become talented at what you can do with them, and then the world becomes your oyster.

[00:13:14] Damon: You're able to entertain people in a way that, that others can't.

[00:13:17] Jon: More,

[00:13:17] Jon: more importantly, you're able to entertain yourself and that's where the creativity and Self discovery just explode right to me scrolling through your phone tik tok Instagram. That's not an escape you're just hitting yourself, right?

[00:13:31] Jon: You're just that but that's not like shutting down and letting this go to a place that is healthy Yeah, quiet and peaceful. And so I'm glad that I had that.

[00:13:42] Damon: John played football through high school in college, then joined the ranks of the pros in the NFL Playing for nearly a decade and a half with the Philadelphia Eagles. The average NFL career lasts only a little over three years, but John.

[00:13:57] Jon: 14 baby, 14,

[00:13:58] Jon: 14 [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Damon: years.

[00:14:01] Damon: That is a lot of stress on a person's body over time. During John's 14th year, he suffered an injury to his arm that sidelined him from the team for the season. But the events that followed. Ultimately saved his life.

[00:14:14] Jon: Man?

[00:14:14] Jon: So I'm going into my 15th season, come on 15 years. And in my mind, I wanted 15. And so basically what happened is I do a show called America's Got Talent. I had some success. I came back to the Eagles and I tied for the most consecutive games played in Eagles history. And the way this went down was we were playing the Redskins.

[00:14:32] Jon: It was late December. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome John Dorenbos as he ties the great Harold Carmichael for the most consecutive games played in Eagles history. 162 season games doesn't include playoffs or preseason, right? The next play. My hand hits a helmet. I ended up having, I don't know if you could see it.

[00:14:50] Jon: I have a big scar all the way down my wrist, three wrist surgeries, dislocated the middle lunate bone. That was the last game I played as an Eagle. I tied the record for most consecutive games played. [00:15:00] So I rehab it all off season. I come back in training camp. And I'm still an eagle and I'm going to play here forever.

[00:15:05] Jon: I'm going to retire an eagle. And the GM came to me and said, Hey, we want to trade you. And I'll never forget being like, what can't trade me. I'm Mr. Eagle for crying out loud. What are you talking about? Like I'm the magic man. I'm not going anywhere. You feel invincible and in there.

[00:15:17] Jon: And in therapy, when I was a kid, we had three goals and I kid you not, I've kept these with me my entire life. Come to terms with your reality because whether you care or not, it's happening. Find forgiveness in people and in the world and be okay with it. And then maybe you'll be lucky enough that a little piece of hope or a little piece of happiness floats by you.

[00:15:40] Jon: And you can grab that puppy and never let go. It's really hard to come to terms with your reality. If you can't find forgiveness in people and in the world, because you become bitter, you become, I'm the victim. You become life's ganging up on me. Why me? Why me? Why me? It's not my fault. F you get stuck in this space.

[00:15:56] Jon: Where all of a sudden, for me, finding forgiveness is about, [00:16:00] it has nothing to do with the event or the other people. For me, finding forgiveness is being okay with what my reality is. It's being okay that I'm going to take one step at a time, and somebody who is no longer in my life anymore, or events that are no longer in my life anymore, Are not going to run me up here.

[00:16:18] Jon: So all of a sudden I realized I'm getting traded like it or not. Let's go. Boom. All right, let's do this. And I remember looking at how we go and how he was the GM. I go, Hey man, has there ever been a long snapper traded for? Aren't we like a league minimum hired fired guys, and he goes, I think you're one of the first.

[00:16:33] Jon: I'll never forget. Never forget. He said, I just want to make sure you're going to show up. Now I had never in my life thought of not showing up. Never once. So I go, wow, wait a minute. So does that mean like maybe I got some leverage here? If he's, why wouldn't I show up? Okay. Who's interested?

[00:16:53] Jon: And he goes, he names a team and I go, Ooh, no way. I'm not showing up. And he goes, what? He goes, what about this team? Nope. [00:17:00] Not going there. What about this team? Nope. Not going there. And then he said, what about the new Orleans saints? Drew Brees, Indoor Stadium, All Black Unis, I'm in. And he goes, okay.

[00:17:11] Jon: So they ended up trading me there for a draft pick. And I ended up getting traded to the saints. I go down there and I was, what was really cool is I was an answer to a problem that they had. So when I arrived, I was the magic man. So there's videos online. I was doing magic in the locker room and it was, for me too, I was 37, I think 37 or 38, 37, and I felt reborn.

[00:17:29] Jon: I felt like this new energy. I felt like I had to reprove myself to a whole new fan base. And I was actually, I was really excited and my wife was excited and it was change. Change is good, man. Change is good. So I went down there, I do a physical I played in a game and then cause I flew in like a day or two before the game.

[00:17:46] Jon: I did the physical. And then I got the results as I was heading to practice and they were like, Hey don't lift anything heavy. Don't drink caffeine. Try not to laugh. No hiccups. Like you're just sit tight. We're on our way and you're going to be an emergency open heart surgery probably in 48 [00:18:00] hours.

[00:18:00] Jon: Now put into context, you ready for this? I'm 37. I just signed a three year extension for millions and millions and millions and millions more money than I'd ever seen. And new city, I was playing with Drew Brees, one of the greatest of all time and all black unis, my wife and I just looked at a penthouse downtown.

[00:18:17] Jon: I've never lived in a penthouse. I've never lived downtown. So my wife and I were like, this is sick. This is unbelievable. I was, I just got married a month prior. And so when they were like, Hey, you're never playing football ever again. And. That's it. It's just the world crashes. Now I had a couple things going my way.

[00:18:31] Jon: One, I didn't really have time to mope and think about it. It was Hey, we're doing this. Now's the time to, I was in the NFL and I did AGT. So a lot of publicity came with it, which means a lot of resources came with it. Multiple teams were calling me, whether it was the all blacks in Australia, whether it was the giants and baseball teams.

[00:18:47] Jon: Hey, if it was us, this is where we'd send our guy. So my wife and I start calling surgeons. And every one of them was taught by a surgeon named Joseph Bavaria. And so my wife's

[00:18:56] Damon: like,

[00:18:57] Jon: Hey, look, I'm just going to throw this out there, but maybe we should talk to this [00:19:00] Bavaria guy because if that's where everybody's taught and he took my call and he's Hey man, I'm glad you called.

[00:19:05] Jon: Ironically, he was at university of Pennsylvania, which is in downtown Philly. So he's an Eagles fan. He's a Philly guy. My wife and I hadn't even sold our condo yet. So we had a place to live and I ended up flying back to Philly and we had the It was 15 and a half hours. I'm a proud member of the zipper club.

[00:19:19] Jon: I'm cut from here to here all the way down. John Ritter, Alan Thicke, Bill Paxton all died of complications of this or this one of the problems I had what's called an aneurysm and the way they found it was actually cool. They did the stethoscope on your chest on your chest and on your back and you take deep breaths.

[00:19:34] Jon: And I always wonder what they're listening for. Your heart is a drum. And if I remember this correctly, when it's on the front, when the stethoscope's on front, they're listening to your heart . When the stethoscope's on your back, they can hear your lungs . And your heart is a drum, so it's boom.

[00:19:47] Jon: If there's a squish sound, that's called a murmur. And a murmur is a leakage of blood somewhere that it shouldn't be. So it might be, boom boom,

[00:19:54] Damon: boom

[00:19:55] Jon: boom. It could be,

[00:19:56] Damon: boom, boom

[00:19:57] Jon: boom.

[00:19:58] Damon: Boom,

[00:19:58] Jon: Boom, or

[00:19:59] Damon: boom,

[00:19:59] Jon: [00:20:00] boom,

[00:20:00] Damon: boom,

[00:20:00] Jon: boom. And depending on where that squish sound is probably where the leakage is. And so they were like, Hey you got a murmur. And the squish sound is not in the place you want it to be. Like I said, we got the echocardiogram and. In the echo, they saw that my aorta, which you have a vein that connects to the heart the blood goes in the heart through the lungs.

[00:20:18] Jon: And then it leaves the heart up top. And there's a vein that kind of comes down and around this called your aorta. And it's a vein that connects to the heart and where it connects to the heart. Mine started to blow up like a water balloon. And so imagine looking at a vein in your arm and there's like an inch of that vein.

[00:20:33] Jon: That's the size of a water balloon. Oh, not good. And so right where that a word, it connects to the heart. It starts blowing up like a water balloon. It should be about the size of a dime or a nickel. And mine had blown up to be bigger than a soda can.

[00:20:45] Damon: Oh my gosh.

[00:20:46] Jon: If that pops, if that pops like a water balloon lights out, you could be cut open in open heart surgery.

[00:20:53] Jon: Fully open surgeons all there if that dissects or ruptures, right? If that pops, there's nothing anybody can do [00:21:00] ever you're dead and you're instantly dead but they were saying to me that hey, man, you had like a 60 percent plus chance of dying every time you hit the field and it was because of that aneurysm now I was born with a congenital heart defect not to complicate this but where the aorta hits the heart there's doors and there should be three doors that open to a hallway Right?

[00:21:17] Jon: So imagine your heart opens three doors open and then blood leaves the heart and then the three doors closed so that the blood can't fall back into the heart. Does that make sense? Yes, I was born. I was born with two doors and over time these two doors withered away and there was holes in it And what happened is mine and it would open blood would leave it would close over time mine started to fall into itself. So mine was never closing.

[00:21:39] Damon: It was collapsing with a gap collapsing

[00:21:42] Jon: Yeah, so the blood that was leaving the heart Was falling back into the heart now where that creates a problem is your brain needs five quarts of blood a minute Okay, and your heart can calculate that and so my resting heart rate would be 80s and 90s, which is really high But what's what was happening is that [00:22:00] because the blood was leaving and falling back in the heart the brain wasn't getting the oxygen So what happens is the heart's gonna work and pump twice as fast to compensate for that To give the brain five quarts of blood a minute And so now what happens, the problem is the heart now is a muscle.

[00:22:13] Jon: It's overworking. So it gets too big. So now you have this enlarged heart. Okay. So now you have the bicuspid valve, two doors bi-, right? A lot of surgeons and the heart community say that this is going to lead to an aneurysm. Mine did. Now you fix the aneurysm. You put a I put a cow valve, a bovine valve.

[00:22:30] Jon: So now I have a new valve and then. And then the aneurysm, they take it out and they put like a little plastic tunnel, right? Like just replacing the hallway and then it grows over. It's great. Here's the problem. Now your heart's way too big. So now everything is normal, but now you've got this huge heart and like a pair of sweatpants, when you stretch the waist out, sweats don't, they don't snap back, right?

[00:22:53] Jon: So now you've got this enormous heart with a squeeze that's not strong. For whatever reason, 60% [00:23:00] On the scale, 60 percent squeeze is Oh, you're a rockstar. That's so strong. Your heart is like perfect, but you need to be over 50 percent to be on the bell curve, to live 85 years in average life. If your squeeze, if the strength of your squeeze is below 50%, then you're looking at 50, 55.

[00:23:18] Jon: And you're going to need a heart transplant. Oh, wow. So here it is too big, right? And I need it to, shrink and there's nothing, there's no medicine, there's no food, there's nothing you can do. Your heart's either going to shrink or not. I believe that when I was out of surgery, my heart strength was 27%, which is not good.

[00:23:35] Jon: That means it's really weak, right? That's just super weak. And what happened is, over a year and a half, two years, you get to, 30, 38, 40, and you keep going in for echocardiograms to test it. And then I got to 50, 52. And once I got over 50, man, it was like two years later, dude, I cried and celebrated because in my mind, I had always heard that there's like a one or 2 percent error.

[00:23:56] Jon: So now all of a sudden, if you're at 52 with a 2 percent error, you're still at 50. [00:24:00] So now I'm 54 or 50. So I go in for echos all the time. They monitor the valve and the strength. So long story short, it was a 15 and a half hour open heart surgery. We had some complications. I was in the hospital for 35 days post surgery which I'm actually thankful for.

[00:24:14] Jon: I think a little bit was, there's a lot of publicity around it and they're like, we're not losing Dorenbos keep it a little longer. I, I had some high white blood cell infection issues, which is normal, not normal. It doesn't matter. And I'm alive now. I feel great. I got a kick ass scar, I dig scars are stories, which I want to tie this into something real quick.

[00:24:32] Damon: Sure.

[00:24:34] Jon: When I was younger, I would talk to kids. And I don't mean to judge others. A lot of them were boring because of their life experience. And so all of a sudden you talk to these kids and it's not their fault. In fact it's the way a child and a little kid should be, right? They shouldn't have the life experience that I had and had to go through.

[00:24:57] Jon: But then at a young age, I realized that when things [00:25:00] happen to you, That's what makes you interesting when things happen to you and you stand up and you keep walking. That's all of a sudden when you admire people and when you read about people, people in the news and they go through a lot and they come out on top, Rocky or all these movies that have a main character that overcome the natural, Hobbes hit in the home run at the end.

[00:25:18] Jon: Like these are people that have been through a lot. And so at a young age, I just realized that maybe my life is what's going to make me interesting. And no matter what, for whatever reason. I will always stand up. It doesn't matter how hard you hit me. I will stand up and until my ticker ain't ticking. I'm I, you know what, this is really cool.

[00:25:38] Jon: And this just came out in an interview like two years ago, and I never put this into words, but when I'm down or something hard happens to me in life. I find a lot of people feel like, Oh, life's getting up on me. Life's kicking me. Oh, what else could go wrong? It's like everything falls at once. I've never once felt like that.

[00:25:54] Jon: I've never once had the victim mentality. Instead, for whatever reason, in [00:26:00] my mind, I just hear this and it gets faster and faster. And it's emotional. Cause This all came about like in the last two years where it started making sense. I never knew who that was. Like I could close my eyes and see like somebody was giving me a slow clap and then I heard the stadium and then I heard the world and then I heard the whole, it was like the world was telling me I had to stand up.

[00:26:27] Jon: And it was this made up world in my own mind. And I did throughout high school, throughout college, throughout the pros. Anytime something hard happens in life, I would close my eyes. I would hear the slow clap and I just had to stand up. And then I realized that, maybe it's my mom. No, it wasn't.

[00:26:46] Jon: And. Matthew McConaughey did an acceptance speech at the Oscars and it was, you got to chase somebody, right? And it was him in 10 years. And if you don't know that speech, Google it. [00:27:00] And I recently realized that the slow clap is me, but it's way down the road. It's me as this old man, just telling myself to get up.

[00:27:10] Jon: And that's been really cool. all right. So

[00:27:12] Damon: now,

[00:27:12] Jon: keep in mind, I've never actually had the slow clap in my life. It's not like I was ever cool enough to actually get one. But I had my heart surgery and I'd have to carry this heart pillow because when you have open heart surgery you're cut open your chest, they wire it shut.

[00:27:27] Jon: When you cough or sneeze. You actually have to press your chest to equalize the pressure because when you cough, you could pop your sternum open, right? So it's super painful.

[00:27:36] Damon: Outward force is pressure on your rib cage that they've basically stitched back together. Yeah.

[00:27:41] Jon: Yeah.

[00:27:42] Damon: So if I had to sneeze or cough, I would have to squeeze this pillow really tight and be like, and try and not right.

[00:27:48] Damon: Expand the chest. Yeah. So I would take this pillow everywhere and I got to a point where her and I could go on walks and then A lot of times people would just in Philly at the time, [00:28:00] it was great. The Philly fans really embraced me. And so we'd go out to eat and they would always come up to us and talk.

[00:28:05] Damon: And, sometimes it can be overwhelming when you just, my wife just wants to sit and have dinner and we just want to like, be nobodies. And then we went to Bar Amis, which is in South Philly in the Navy yard. And her and I went to dinner and we sat on the patio and nobody bothered us.

[00:28:20] Damon: Nobody said a word. And I remember my wife was looking around like, God, this is nice. And then we had our dinner and we ate and I picked up my pillow and I would shuffle my feet cause I'd walk really slow She would hold on to me. And I kid you not, we're walking off the patio at Bar and Meese.

[00:28:38] Damon: And one guy,

[00:28:39] Damon: ( Slow clapping) and then it was the whole patio and then it was the whole restaurant came out and I literally walked to my car and turned around. And my wife just looked at me like, Oh my God. And we got the slow clap from Philly. We got in the car, everybody cheered. I waved and it was the first time I think my wife really saw the relationship [00:29:00] between fans and an athlete and what that means for both sides, what it means for the athlete and how it inspires them, but also what it means for the fans.

[00:29:09] Damon: To have that. Yeah. And that was a really cool moment for me in Philly that I'll never forget. And then I do America's Got Talent and I started selling out theaters and I do a show in a theater and we got an email, Hey, and we hadn't told the story yet, right? It just happened, but I didn't tell the media.

[00:29:28] Damon: I didn't tell the story and we get an email, Hey, I'm coming to your show. I don't know if John remembers, but I gave him a slow clap at Bar Mies. I was like, Oh my gosh. So I ended up meeting the guy at a theater backstage. And uh, man, it was, it was really cool. Really cool. So, you know, When you're down and out, just close your eyes and pretend like you're getting a slow clap.

[00:29:48] Damon: you have two options die or stand up. So just stand up. And then the clap gets louder and louder in my own head. And then just take one step forward and just pick [00:30:00] your head up and you'll be off and rolling. I remember not to ramble here, but I remember in the hospital I would get up and rehab was this stand up, walk to the door, touch the doorknob, walk back to your bed and take an hour nap.

[00:30:15] Damon: That's how hard it was to walk maybe 10 feet. And then it got to, Hey, let's go outside and go touch another door. Then, weeks later it was, Hey, walk to the other end of the hallway. And then it was like, Hey, can you walk all the way down the hallway, get a juice box for a reward, drink your little juice box and walk back.

[00:30:32] Damon: And so. I would get out of bed and it was beyond intimidating. I'd have anxiety and the thought of walking down the hallway was harder than anything I'd ever done in my life. And I would go in the bathroom and I would close the door and my wife would say, don't shut that door. Cause if I fell, she wanted to be able to get in.

[00:30:47] Damon: So I closed the door and I would literally look in the mirror. And man, I was a ton of weight loss and just, I look terrible. But I'll never forget. I would tell myself, hold your head up, walk proud. You got this, hold your head [00:31:00] up, walk proud. You got this. And I believe in self talk. I believe in you are your own main character in your own movie.

[00:31:07] Damon: And I would hear the slow clap and it was like, man, okay, I got this. I'd open the door, I'd shuffle my feet out. I'd have my heart pillow and my wife and I would walk the hallway. And the whole time I'm just like, hold your head up. Walk proud. You got this. And I'm very thankful that the man that lives in here, I believe that this is possible and I've had a lot of success.

[00:31:29] Damon: I've had a lot of fun. I've had multiple careers that I've had so much fun and joy. And if there's anything I w I would do differently. I don't know if I dream big enough because things are happening and all of a sudden it's like, man, never in a million years that I thought I had the NFL career I had, let alone the magic career I had.

[00:31:46] Damon: And then these other things I got going on, it's like, gosh, man, like be careful the words you tell yourself, no matter how big or how small, because they just might come true. Yeah. You're going to, if you're going to write your story, man, make it crazy and absolutely [00:32:00] outrageous. And you know what? Hope other people laugh at it.

[00:32:02] Damon: Hope other people think you're ridiculous. Hope other people think it'll never happen because maybe. Maybe that's the story you're supposed to tell yourself.

[00:32:10] Jon: Absolutely. Think about how many unbelievable dreamers we know among us. You've got Richard Branson's and Elon Musk's and all kinds of people going to planets and deep sea and all kinds of things.

[00:32:23] Jon: You dream big and you can make some amazing things happen. And this is one of the things that I've admired about you, John. Like I said, I read your book. The book is called Life is Magic. And just the title alone is inspirational. It says what, how you think and how you see life. But it's actually a wonderful point for a lot of people who don't resonate with that yet, right?

[00:32:43] Jon: That life really is spectacular. And that inner talk is super important. And you said something, I want you to correct my quote, cause I'm not going to get you right as I sit here in front of you, quoting you, but basically the idea is. don't listen to yourself. Talk to yourself.

[00:32:58] Jon: Yeah, man. What is that [00:33:00] correct?

[00:33:00] Damon: Nailed it. Yeah, nailed it. Look and that's what I would do in the hospital. That's what I would do as a kid. It's very easy to listen to the thought in your head or the voice in your head that says, quick give up. You're not cut out for this. This is too hard.

[00:33:12] Damon: It's very easy to listen to that voice. . There's a guy named Kevin Elko. He's a speaker. He's the one that mentored me and brought me into the speaking world. Very thankful for him. And that's one of the things he would say, don't listen to yourself, talk to yourself.

[00:33:23] Damon: And so literally when things get hard, that's what I do. I go in the bathroom and I look in the mirror and I talk out loud. You pick your head up, you walk proud, you got this. And all of a sudden that, that doubt of how hard it is, how much it hurts, how exhausting, how intimidating the anxiety. All that starts to disappear and you actually might start to believe your own lies.

[00:33:47] Damon: So you better be careful what lies you want to tell yourself.

[00:33:49] Jon: Yeah.

[00:33:50] Damon: Because those lies can be a beautiful thing. And at the time, man, I was exhausted. I was hurting. And I don't know if I thought I had that. I don't know if I could hold my head [00:34:00] up, but you hold your head up. You walk proud.

[00:34:02] Damon: You got this. You hold your head up. You walk proud. You got this. Hold your head up. Walk proud. You got this. Hey, you know what? God dang me just saying this. I just lifted that chin a little bit higher, stood up a little higher,

[00:34:12] Jon: chest up, shoulders back,

[00:34:13] Damon: man, maybe I do got this changes things, man, because, the other thing I've learned too, is And this is this is deep for me.

[00:34:21] Damon: If you don't give up on yourself, I have found that the world will not give up on you either. It might not happen when you want. It might not happen as quick as you want, but whenever it happens, it's usually the right time with the right people. So sometimes you gotta have patience, but if you don't give up on yourself, the world won't give up on you.

[00:34:41] Damon: But if you give up on yourself, the world won't Don't be shocked when the world stops showing up for you too.

[00:34:46] Jon: That's right. Yeah. There's a, natural attraction. People want to be around positivity and your own self love is incredibly important. I was just telling somebody this last week, I have a dear friend in New Jersey.

[00:34:59] Jon: [00:35:00] And we went out to dinner and she was telling me about some of the things that had transpired in her life. And I was talking her up and I told her very clearly, I said, nobody's going to love you more than you. So you got to make sure that you are loving yourself first, and then you can do all the other stuff.

[00:35:19] Jon: Otherwise, none of the rest of it's going to happen. And quite frankly, none of the rest of it matters.

[00:35:24] Damon: I think within that too, there's this lesson in life that one, you're not going to do it by yourself. So I've got this little term that I coined it's mine. My friends laugh at it.

[00:35:32] Damon: But it's be the person that's always invited. That way, when you're not invited and you show up, you're always invited. And what does that mean? It means that you're somebody that people want to be around. Like you're somebody that no matter where you go, people are like, Oh my gosh, Dorenbos, get over here.

[00:35:46] Damon: Like they get excited when they see you.

[00:35:47] Jon: Yes.

[00:35:48] Damon: And what I found is Andy Reed. Was that guy for me? Man, we, I would go up in his office. We'd do tricks and hang out. And when I first met him, he's like, Hey they tell me you could steal watches off people. I [00:36:00] go, yeah, I'm pretty good.

[00:36:00] Damon: I studied that stuff for a while. He goes, Jim Johnson, our defensive coordinator. Can you take his watch? And Jim Johnson was like that, just that tough as nails. Just everybody loved them. And he was our D coordinator that was just beloved, but he was tough. So I go, I'll be back in two seconds.

[00:36:15] Damon: So I'll never do all the coaches are around players. And I went up to Jim Johnson, I held it over his head. He had no clue. And I handed it to Andy and he was just like, Oh my gosh. And here's Jim Johnson, nothing got by him. He was just, he was that guy. But I think for me, I realized that Andy Reed was somebody that I respected, I admired, I looked up to.

[00:36:39] Damon: But he wanted to see me succeed. And so I need to continue to be the person that he's willing to invest in, that he's willing to take time away from his family to develop me as a person and a player. So what do you got to do? You got to show up every day on time, prepared and ready to work that way. When things don't always go your way and maybe you mess up or.

[00:36:57] Damon: There's a moment where maybe the salary cap or there's all these [00:37:00] different factors that allow you to play a long time. Maybe when one of those are not for you, the guy that's making the decisions will believe in you enough to want to see you succeed, but you have to be that person in the world. You have to be that person everywhere you go.

[00:37:14] Damon: You have to be the person that no matter what, even when you're not invited and you show up. You're always invited. And make sure that you're that person that people want to be around that, that people want to see succeed, show up with a smile on your face, show up wanting to learn, show up. And today's day.

[00:37:30] Damon: And I don't want to say something that comes out the wrong way, but too many people are offended too easily. Like it's just, I agree. They're just too offended, man. Like everybody can have their own opinion. It's fine. Relax, who are we that if somebody says something that I don't like, how ignorant am I that I'm going to go my whole life and you're going to say something that's never going to offend me.

[00:37:47] Damon: That's whatever, we all have our own opinion, but just treat people with kindness and respect, appreciate each other's differences. For the younger generation, especially stop being so offended. Stop getting all worked up. Not everybody has to like you. Not everybody has [00:38:00] to agree with you.

[00:38:01] Damon: Just keep being you. Just keep being you. Make the world a better place and you will find the people that you're going to gravitate to and those people are going to lift you up and hopefully you'll help lift them up and it's a great world.

[00:38:13] Jon: Absolutely. 100%. John Dorenbos this has been fantastic. You have an energy that is infectious through the computer screen and on stage.

[00:38:22] Jon: I've had the great privilege of seeing you live. And I gotta say not only is the positivity infectious, but the magic was absolutely stunning. stunning. I'm sitting there watching hands and cards and all kinds of things and things are appearing out of nowhere. And it's absolutely amazing for anybody listening.

[00:38:40] Jon: Please. If you get an opportunity to see John Dorenbos live, please do it. You will walk away both positively inspired and absolutely in awe of what magic can do. It's really cool, .

[00:38:50] Jon: Oh, by the way, the book is called Life is Magic. It is a wonderful read. We didn't get into some of it today. I absolutely encourage you to please pick it up. It's an incredible story.

[00:38:58] Jon: Thanks for being here, man. I [00:39:00] appreciate you so much.

[00:39:01] Jon: Hey, I appreciate you, man. Thank you.

[00:39:02] Jon: All the best to you, buddy.

[00:39:04] Jon: Thanks, man.


[00:39:04] Damon: Hey, it's me. John was living the idyllic life. We hope and plan for our children until his own father shattered the sanctity of his home life. He credits his aunt's family intensive therapy, his discovery of football and the quieting piece of the riffle of a deck of cards As his saving graces in life. In this interview, we did not dig into her importance in his adult life, but in John's book, wife is magic. He gives high praise to his wife and Elise For her commitment to fight through everything with him when he was at some of his lowest points. I've met John before and I've seen his magic stunned, the crowd, as we shared his positivity out of multiple adversities wash over the crowd of everyone watching.

[00:39:55] Damon: And like I said, I truly hope you will take advantage of an opportunity to [00:40:00] watch.

[00:40:00] Damon: John's amazing magic.

[00:40:02] Damon: I also hope for everyone listening, you're able to dig deep and find the positivity in your existence in this life. In the spaces you share with others and that you can uplift at least one other person, the way John Dorham boss has set out to do for millions of people. I'm Damon Davis. And to hope you've found something in John's journey that inspired you. Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really?

[00:40:32] Damon: And speaking of books, don't forget I'm working on book two. If you'd like to stay up to date On my work, as it progresses, please go to who am I? Really? 2 that's book. And the number two.

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