He has shared his story before, how at age 12
The remarkable life of Jon Dorenbos comes to light on HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel on Tuesday at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m and it's must-see TV whether or not you have heard Dorenbos explain his background and how he's used magic to ease the pain that changed his life at such a tender age.
A "Brady Bunch" kind of life existed for Dorenbos before the afternoon of August 2, 1995, the day his father, Alan, violently killed his mother, Kathy, at their home in suburban Seattle, turned himself in to authorities the next day and leaving Dorenbos and his brother and sister in a broken home.
"It was fogged confusion. Time was passing and I was just there," said Dorenbos, thinking back to the time after the incident.
Immediate counseling and love from his extended family and a strong resolve to hold himself accountable and to achieve greatness helped Dorenbos make it.
Look at him now. He's a college graduate. He's played in the NFL for 11 seasons. He's got a thriving business of magic and motivational speaking away from the game.
You meet Jon Dorenbos and you come away impressed with everything he is all about.
"You basically have to accept the hand you are dealt," said Dorenbos. "When you come to terms with that, that it doesn't matter what you think and that your life is what it is and things happen out of your control, the quicker you can embrace that and the quicker you can move on and do positive things in your life.
"I've embraced everything that has happened in my life. No hard feelings, no anger. I'm over all of that stuff. To now be at this stage in my career and to help kids or anybody who has dealt with what I've dealt with -- and unfortunately it happens way more than people think and you realize after something traumatic happens that by no means you are alone -- is something I am happy to do."
Philadelphia comedian Craig Shoemaker ("The Lovemaster" who is producing a documentary called "Laughter Heals") initiated the plan, first bringing up the Dorenbos story to Gumbel and then suggesting to Dorenbos the idea of having HBO follow him and his magic on the road and within days the cameras caught Dorenbos' shows and Gumbel did his interview a short time later at the NovaCare Complex.
Dorenbos plans to see the piece, called "Magic Man," on Tuesday night and he's not sure what his reaction will be. He has no relationship with his father, who was sentenced to 13 years, eight months in jail for the murder and served 11 years. Alan Dorenbos, who argued self defense in his criminal hearing, was released from prison in 2006.
Dorenbos turned to magic when he was 16, losing himself in the world of illusion. It allowed him to escape and to create his own reality. He was introduced to a professional magician by the name of Ken Sands, who imparted -- and still does-- his expertise in magic and his wisdom of the world on an impressionable and eager-to-learn Dorenbos.
"I had guilt and I had to forgive myself and not worry about what my mom would think if I forgave my dad," said Dorenbos. "Learning how to forgive yourself and to forgive that guilt, is huge. I think a lot of people in a traumatic experience sometimes skip that part and that prevents them from being able to forgive others.
"I speak and do shows to a lot of kids and young adults and if the audience is appropriate I share my story and try to help anybody I can. I can relate to their story. The whole concept of forgiving yourself is the key piece in everything. I'm so thankful I've learned that."
He isn't bitter. He isn't depressed. He's an NFL player who has been in the Pro Bowl and who is one of the best long snappers in the NFL and one of the best the Eagles have ever had. He's been a staple here since 2006, a huge part of the community and a popular figure throughout every tentacle of the organization.
Some players don't quite understand the platform the NFL provides and the reach it has beyond the playing field. Dorenbos has understood from Day 1 and has been able to take it to new frontiers.
"I'm thankful, of course," he said. "I don't look back. If I can help somebody, I'm there. I'm hopeful that comes across in the piece. I don't know. I'll watch it and see how it turns out."