Lately there have been some questions regarding my good looks. Everyone wonders what happened to me. Some assume that I always have a wad of tobacco in my mouth; and, others have called me awful names. I want to tell you the story about how my smile fell.
It happened just seven days after my seventh birthday in 1979. My brothers, my dad and I were in our melon field picking the ripe melons. We placed the melons in small piles on the narrow road we had made in the field between the sprawling vines of melons. Several piles of melons lay in the road.
We had a Ford LTD town car at the time, which had a large trunk, and we began to place the melons in the trunk as we retrieved them from the road. As we cleared one pile we would reverse down the road to the next pile. As we moved from one pile to the next my brothers and I would get into the trunk with the melons.
Ammon, Mel and I were always wrestling around. It was our normal, almost nonstop, brotherly banter, and sometimes-strenuous combat that we carried on with. Mel and Ammon were especially consistent at these wrestling games because they were so close in age and size, and both were very competitive. I wasn’t as rambunctious as they, yet I participated plenty.
As the trunk filled with more and more melons there was less and less room for us all; so, I began to ride on the bumper of the car as we continued backing to the next pile. Mel and Ammon were still in the trunk with the melons, and of course, they were still wrestling. Their exertions spilled over the area of the trunk causing me to fall off the bumper of the backing LTD. I was able to jump back onto the bumper, the first time. The second time I failed to “stick my landing”. As I jumped up to put my rump back on the car I missed the bumper and slid back off and the car begin to back over me.
I did not want to be ground into the dirt, under the body of the car, so I attempted to get out of underneath it by turning to exit from the side. Although the car was moving very slowly it was still too fast for me to avoid. The tire was coming right upon me. I placed my arm in front of me to shield my face, but that did little good. The tire simply pushed my arm to the ground and ran it over breaking it in two places. The tire then ran up onto my head pressing it into the clotted soil of the field.
I don’t remember hurting at the time, but I do remember thinking that it was about time my Dad get this big ole car off my head. But he didn’t yet know that I was under there. The car stopped right on my head; I guess, because I made a good wheel chock. So, Dad pressed on the gas to give the car power enough to get over whatever it was that was resisting it. This resulted in the tire spinning out on my head, which removed a patch of hair, which I wasn’t very thrilled about loosing.
I could hear my brothers yelling to my Dad that I was under the car. He finally got the message and pulled forward which released my head. I didn’t want my arm to be run over again so I moved it down to my side. When the car cleared off me I pushed up and stood but I started to lose equilibrium and went to my knees quickly. I was bleeding from every orifice in my head…my ears, eyes, mouth, and nose were all bleeding. My arm was broken, my nose was broken and my scull was cracked. I still had my scalp minus a patch of hair. Life was a bit rough at that moment.
While I was there on my knees my Dad was out of the car and to my side immediately. He saw the condition I was in, and knew instantly that I was seriously hurt. He sent my brothers to the house in a hurry to call ahead to the ambulance and sheriff as he put me in the car and headed for town. We hadn’t made it to the end of the field when he realized that at the rate I was bleeding that I wouldn’t make it to town before I simply bled out. So, he stopped to lay his hands upon my head and gave me a blessing of healing, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, and closed his prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ”. The bleeding stopped and we continued on to town.
As we left the field and hit the actual road I tried to sit up to see where we were going and I complained about my arm hurting. I don’t remember any pain from my head, just my arm. Dad instructed me to lay back down, so I did for the rest of the ride. In Mesquite we met up with the Sheriff’s Deputy, Clark Robinson, who is also of our faith. He and my Father once again preformed a priesthood blessing upon me, and from there I was taken to the St. George Utah Hospital by ambulance.
I was in the hospital for a week. I was blind and the left side of my face had stopped working. I was hurting and I couldn’t balance. I had the strength to walk but could not keep upright and could not see where I was going, but I tried to get out of bed and around on my own because I wanted to be independent, and I was tired of lying in bed. My vision started to return slowly and I was seeing double; but, after a few weeks I was seeing well again.
I returned to school after Christmas break, still with my arm in a cast and with a different looking face than the one I had left with. I got along all right; I looked different on the outside, but perceived myself as the same. Within just days I had to defend myself from one kid who was poking fun at my drooping face. As time went on some good friends left me. As a teen dates were hard to come by. Life was very lonely sometimes.
I’ve been made fun of, I’ve been shunned and I’ve been avoided. I’m always targeted for extra inspections at border crossings and the airport; I’ve been called ugly and worse. It took me longer to find a wife who would look beyond my surface. But through it all I have become stronger. I learned to count on someone higher. I learned not to be concerned with what others think of me, but only He who created me and is above all. This hasn’t made me perfect, but it has made me better, stronger and truer. It is part of what has made me who I am today.
As most of you know, I have also recently been through two federal court trials; which, is a lot like getting your head run over. I have faced twenty-three felony charges falsely brought against me. I faced those charges and stood on my own, without an attorney, against the advice of many. But I did what I knew to be right, and I knew that the charges against me were wrong. I did not cave to the pressure against me. I stood strong and true to the end; and now, I am free as I should have always been.
I want to leave you with this thought: When you look upon my face today, know that behind this crooked face is a straight heart and sound mind that are strong enough to not cave to the pressures of corruption. Those pressures are guaranteed to come with the office of the Nevada Governor, and I will withstand them like I have all the ones that I faced in the past. Know that I, as Nevada’s Governor, will stand in the face of adversity, from any source, and protect the rights of each of the people of Nevada, like I have protected my own. Know that I have already faced many pressures and I have prevailed against them all.