PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When Pittsburgh Pirates’ legend Roberto Clemente died in a tragic plane crash back in 1972, it changed more than Pittsburgh sports history, it changed the way Roberto Jr., just 7-years-old at the time, saw the world.
“Nobody asked me how I was doing. They were more focused on telling me their story about how they were affected by my father’s loss,” said Roberto Clemente Jr.
Thrust into the shadow of his father’s death, Roberto Jr. didn’t know how to deal with the range of emotions he felt, so he didn’t.
“I felt it was my fault for not stopping him. So, that was a combination of the actual traumatic experience, plus the guilt side, plus having to deal with that with no… I didn’t cry,” said Clemente Jr.
Now, almost 46 years later, Clemente says he has finally begun to process his father’s death.
“Last month, I was actually diagnosed with PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. I had no idea that I’ve been suffering from that, but it was something that now makes sense,” he said.
These days, Clemente Jr. is involved in the development of a new app called RC-21X. It’s a brain health game designed to track the long-term impact of injuries, like concussions.
“In six minutes, you can actually take a look at how your brain performance is doing after you establish your baseline,” he said.
Clemente Jr. says he had 15 concussions before he entered high school. Couple that with his recent PTSD diagnosis, and he has a vested interest in brain health.
He will soon welcome Roberto Clemente III into the world, with the hope that he won’t carry the burden of the stress created by a life taken far too soon.
“I truly believe that this is a chance for this baby to continue the legacy, someone that’s going to carry his grandfather’s name,” said Clemente Jr. “And, I hope that he’s going to continue the work that his grandfather started.”