Mark Chalifoux

Mark Chalifoux

Mark Chalifoux is a stand-up comedian who has been featured on Fox and IFC and has made national radio appearances on The Bob and Tom Show, SiriusXM and BBC Radio. As a writer, Mark has contributed to ESPN.com, CBS Digital, The Baltimore Sun, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Chalifoux Family Christmas Newsletter. Mark is the father to a beautiful and amazing daughter and her sister.

#GirlDad Is Trending After ESPN Anchor’s Emotional Kobe Tribute

#GirlDad is Trending
(Twitter/michaeleaves)

The sports world was rocked by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant over the weekend, and tributes to the legend and the others on board have been emerging ever since. People have praised Kobe’s curiosity, his competitiveness, the early stages of his second chapter. The Athletic did a beautiful piece on Gigi. Newspapers have chronicled the other victims and their stories.

But one of the most emotional, and widely shared, tributes came from ESPN anchor Elle Duncan.

She described her only meeting with Kobe, which occurred when she was eight months pregnant. Kobe gave her a huge hi-five and gushed when he found out she was having a girl and talked at length about how girls were awesome and how much she’d enjoy it. He told her to be grateful for that gift because “girls were amazing” and “I’m a girl dad.”

Fighting back tears, she recounted how he talked about his daughters and how much he loved them. When it came to sports, he talked about how his oldest was an accomplished volleyball player and the youngest was a toddler, so he wasn’t sure what she’d do. But the middle one, he told her, was a basketball player.

“The middle one, she was a monster, she was a beast,” he told her. “She’s better than me at that age. She’s got it.” That girl, Gigi, also died in the helicopter crash on Sunday.

Duncan tearfully closed by saying the only small measure of comfort for her, reflecting on their meeting, was that Kobe died doing what he loved.

“Being a dad. Being a girl dad.”

It wasn’t long before #girldad was trending on Twitter, as people claimed the mantle or simply shared the moving tribute.

As a #GirlDad myself, it was awesome to see how people responded to her beautiful tribute and made being a great dad a way to honor Kobe’s legacy.

Kobe Was Coaching His Daughter to Be the Family’s Next Basketball Star

Kobe & Gigi Bryant
(Instagram/kobebryant)

The world was dealt a tragic blow Sunday when news broke that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died tragically in a helicopter crash at the age of 41. The news became even more heart-breaking when it was revealed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the helicopter crash.

They were flying to Gianna’s basketball game, a game that Kobe was going to coach. Gianna (Gigi) was Kobe’s second-eldest daughter and, like her dad, a devoted baller. When people in the basketball world told Kobe it was a shame he didn’t have a son to carry on his legacy in the game, he was quick to correct them and point to Gigi as his heir apparent on the court, something he told Jimmy Kimmel in an appearance on his talk show in 2018.


“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” Bryant said, “and they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.”

“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,” Bryant said. “I’m like that’s right,” Bryant said. “Yes, you do, you got this.”

Kobe was one of the most high profile WNBA supporters around, partly because of his daughter’s love for the game.

Gigi even showcased some of her dad’s moves on the court.

One of the most shared clips on social media Sunday was a clip of Kobe in the stands with his daughter, as Kobe goes full dad-mode as he breaks down the game to Gigi.

Social media was consumed with tributes for Kobe, from utterly shattered and devastated friends and former teammates, to others in the sports world, teams found different ways to handle the news. Games were played, but every team started their game by taking a 24-second shot clock violation, paying homage to Kobe’s jersey number. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said no Mav would ever wear #24 again, in respect to Bryant.

And while the tributes poured in, the most poignant ones mentioned the bond between the dad and daughter, and the hopes the former had for the latter.

Sunday’s crash rocked the sports world and the devastating tragedy will continue to reverberate around a game Bryant left an indelible mark on. And as the sports world will always hold Bryant up for the shots he made, it will also mourn the shots Gigi will never get to take.

 

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My Gigi

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Viral Photo Shoot Features Newborn of Fallen Firefighter and His Firehouse Brothers

Brett Grace Firehouse Photoshoot
(Sugarfoot Photography)

Brett Korves was a 10-year veteran of an Illinois Fire Department when he died tragically in a car accident on his way to work in early 2019. He left behind a two-year-old son and a pregnant wife. Nearly a year later, Brett’s brothers at the Fire Department honored his memory with a photo shoot with the newborn daughter he never got to meet.

His wife, Alex, didn’t know she was pregnant when Brett tragically passed and told Good Morning America she was “freaking out” at first, but was glad to have one more piece of him in her life.

(Sugarfoot Photography)
(Sugarfoot Photography)
(Sugarfoot Photography)
(Sugarfoot Photography)

Brett’s First Responders was a foundation started in his memory to carry on his legacy of helping his community.

Alex said she was touched by the avalanche of positivity after the photos went viral and said she is thankful for the support of their family, friends, and Brett’s brothers in the Fire Department,

“I just want Brett Grace to realize that even though her father has passed, she has all this outpouring support from all these men, too.”

NBA Star Buys and Cancels $1 Million of Medical Debt

Trae Young Cancels $1 Million of Medical Debt
(Getty/Michael Reaves)

Medical debt can be crippling for families. On top of dealing with the fallout from the medical condition that incurred the debt, families can run into having to pay massive bills that can quickly spiral out of control. It’s a real problem in this country, and that’s why it’s awesome when people try to step in and help out. One such person is Atlanta Hawks star guard Trae Young, who started his 2020 by buying and canceling more than $1 million in medical debt for Atlanta citizens.

His foundation partnered with the nonprofit “RIP Medical Debt” and they wiped medical debt completely clear for 570 Atlanta families.

“The city of Atlanta has welcomed me with open arms,” said Young. “Giving back to this community is extremely important to me. I hope these families can find a bit of relief knowing that their bills have been taken care of as we enter the New Year.”

The Athletic has the full story about how the gesture came about (strong endorsement for The Athletic here).

For its part, RIP Medical Debt says it seeks to help those most in need, working with individual donors, philanthropists and organizations to purchase medical debt from collection agencies for pennies on the dollar to provide financial relief for those burdened by impossible medical bills.

Young is one of the top young players in the NBA, finishing the 2018-2019 season as a finalist for Rookie of the Year and is currently one of the top scorers in the NBA.

Las Vegas Raiders Tackle Nevada Lunch Debt With $500k Donation

Raiders Pledge $50k to Lunch Debt
(Raiders.com)

The Las Vegas Raiders officially began their new era as a professional sports franchise with a giant tackle. With Nevada lunch debt being their first opponent at home, they absolutely crushed it with a half a MILLION dollar pledge to the cause.

The franchise donated the money to the Nevada Community Foundation, who will then send the $$ to schools participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. That money will go to clear the debt the school’s incur for families that can’t pay for lunches but also don’t qualify for free lunches.

“Today, we want to make a donation to the Nevada Department of Agriculture meal service program, which feeds kids lunch and breakfast at the schools. We are hoping to eliminate the debt that the entire state of Nevada has to do that project, and in that regard we are donating $500,000 to the program,” Raiders Owner Mark Davis said in a press release.

That is a hell of an opening for the state’s first NFL team. Sure, there are plenty of discussions warranted about whether or not lunch debt should even be a thing. And I will also hear arguments about how the team should do community efforts like this, given how much money they were given in public funds.

But, let’s not gloss over the fact that EVERY NFL team gets deals like that, and they aren’t all attempting to kill lunch debt in their states. This is a weird look for the Raiders, as I’m more used to the off-putting fanaticism of parts of Raider Nation (looking at the Black Hole here).

Props to the Raiders for starting off their Las Vegas era by quickly starting to earn the goodwill of the community.

Boy’s Petition to Move the Super Bowl to Saturday Is Gaining Steam

#SuperBowlSaturday Petition
(Change.org/Frank Ruggeri)

Super Bowl Sunday is the closest thing America has to an unofficial holiday. People gather with loved ones, make elaborate meals, and generally drink more than they should. The biggest downside every year? Going to work (or school) the next morning. One boy in New York is trying to change that.

Frankie Ruggeri, a 16-year-old from New York, was talking with his family about the Super Bowl earlier this month when he said it should be on Saturday instead. OK, great kid, that’s the same conversation thousands of sports fans have had. But Ruggeri didn’t just complain and let it stay there, he is trying to enact real change, and he started a petition on Change.org to get the ball rolling. Cute, right? Well, football fans are joining the cause, as he already has nearly 35,000 signatures.

He makes an argument that the NFL would make more money if the game was on Saturday. He also said it would increase TV views. A valiant effort, although if it was true, the NFL would’ve probably moved it by now (there’s nothing they won’t do for an extra few dimes).

Here’s what we need to focus on: this is objectively a great idea. It’s the top sporting event of the year, and no one wants the buzzkill of going to work (or school) the next day. Move it to Saturday, where it rightfully belongs.

Yes, it is a petition, which is a form of change that doesn’t work past the third grade, but this may be our best chance to unite and make our voices heard. This may be the time to rally and get the NFL to see the groundswell of support for a switch to Saturday.

This kid could be the Greta Thunberg of Super Bowl parties. Heck, he even got a #SuperBowlSaturday trend going on twitter.

You can sign the petition here.

And if the NFL won’t oblige, fine. Then it’s time to move to Plan B, which is trying to change a weaker organization: the Federal Government. If we can’t move the game, then it’s imperative that the Monday after the Super Bowl becomes an official holiday.

Mr. Peanut Dies, Gets Roasted on Twitter

RIP Mr. Peanut
(YouTube/The Estate of Mr. Peanut)

Planters announced tragic news this week when they revealed Mr. Peanut has passed away. It’s the end of everyone’s favorite peanut-based mascot, at least when considering those who wear a top hat and monocle.

The company revealed Mr. Peanut died in an attempt to save his friends Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh in the aftermath of a terrible car accident. This is all part of an upcoming Super Bowl commercial, so just go along with it, OK?

“It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm Mr. Peanut has passed away at 104 years old,” a Planters brand manager at Kraft Heinz said in a statement. “He will be remembered as the legume who always brought people together for nutty adventures and a good time.”

We can all choose how we want to remember him. For those with terrifying peanut allergies, they probably remember him as a harbinger of danger, a sign of their mortality and the fleeting nature of life. They are probably celebrating this day with an abundance of joy. Others may be confused, and I’m sure someone somewhere will be sad about the loss of this icon (?).

If you need time to mourn, Planters has a third-quarter Super Bowl commercial featuring his funeral. The company says this will all make more sense after we have a chance to process it.

The internet is not a place that waits to withhold judgment.


No everyone was quick to crack jokes – a few other brands paid their respects.

I guess we should stay tuned, but one thing I think we can all agree on: Mr. Peanut should’ve been the one to sacrifice himself if anyone had to go. This entire car accident was his fault. Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh were enjoying a fun trip when the driver just freaked out and plunged them over the cliff.

Was Mr. Peanut under the influence? Let’s hope a full investigation is conducted and justice is served for all affected.

Ken Jennings Announces Retirement After Becoming the Jeopardy GOAT

Ken Jennings is the GOAT
(Courtesy of ABC)

The top Jeopardy players of all time recently squared off in a special, prime-time event, to see who the ultimate champion is. And America’s favorite buzzer boy (the first and hopefully the last time that nickname will ever be used) Ken Jennings has proven once and for all, he is the Jeopardy GOAT.

The prime-time quiz show spectacle pitted three of the most iconic Jeopardy players against each other. Prior to the showdown, each of the three, Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter (he was a big winner before social media was around, so no one outside of aficionados remembers him) could lay claim to a Jeopardy record. Rutter had won the most money (north of $4 million), Holzhauer had the single-game highest score, and Jennings had the longest win streak.

The tournament was mostly a battle between Jennings and Holzahauer, with Ken taking the lead down the stretch for good. The tournament was made better by the good-natured trash talk between the trio, with Jennings getting an especially savage burn on Holzhauer on twitter.

Jennings told Variety he was hanging up his buzzer for good, retiring on top, citing his respect for Trebek.

“I don’t see how I can top it,” he says. “The win was great. It’s a great punctuation mark, and I absolutely mean what I said about not wanting to play past my prime. And at some point Alex is going to retire, I assume, and it just wouldn’t feel right to play with a different host. It’d be like cheating on Alex. I think this is a perfect time to go out on top.”

After Jennings won the tournament, plenty of people paid homage to the GOAT.

And, for his part, Jennings did say some nice things about his competitors.

The prime-time showdown was a massive hit, but let’s not forget who the real star of Jeopardy is, and that’s the legend Alex Trebek. The tournament, more than any other, captured the joy fans have for the show, and the respect they all have for its iconic host, who is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Even other players have taken the chance to show their love for Trebek, who is truly the GOAT when it comes to Jeopardy.

Move Over Baby Yoda, Baby Jabba Is Here

Baby Jabba The Hutt
(Instagram/leovitiart)

Baby Yoda is a pop culture phenom. The breakout star of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ has played a huge role in making fans excited about the future of Star Wars. Baby Yoda has been a Christmas cookie, a cocktail, and has fans eagerly awaiting his appearance at Build-A-Bear.

Disney CEO and Chairman even tried to claim Baby Yoda as a Green Bay Packers fan, which didn’t exactly play out the way he hoped when the Packers were absolutely throttled (Force-choked?) by the San Francisco 49ers.

Honestly, we’re probably hitting peak Baby Yoda, before the internet tide starts to turn against the overexposure of the little guy. But can there be a cuter baby Star Wars character than Baby Yoda?

(This is an obligatory aside for all the nerds that want to yell “He’s not really Yoda!”. Yes, that is canonically correct, he is simply referred to as “The Child” on the show, but let’s not kid ourselves, everyone knows who we’re talking about when we say Baby Yoda).

One Star Wars fan says yes, and even produced a 3D rendering to prove it. And in his mind, he’s come up with an even cuter miniature Star Wars figure: Baby Jabba.

 

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The little Jabba is really happy for all the love he received 🙏 Here is a short turntable video 😊

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You can check out the full project on his ArtStation page.

Jabba the Hut became most famous for his turn as a leading figure in the criminal underworld of Star Wars in “Return of The Jedi”, but Lucas eventually plugged him into the newer version of “A New Hope” as well. He’s an evil figure who eventually imprisons most of the cast, before a daring escape engineered by Luke Skywalker (sorry for the 40-year-old spoiler!).

Before people freak out, this is just a fan rendition, and there are no known plans for a Baby Jabba in the show. I’m not saying people wouldn’t sign up for a full-fledged Baby Star Wars, but that’s not what this is.

Still, I’ll admit, the fan did a stellar job of making a Baby Jabba pretty adorable. So what if his species doesn’t have quite the nobility of the Yodas (yes, I know that’s not their species name), and if he’s probably the offspring of some sort of villainous gangster, he’s still pretty cute! Chunky babies are always the cutest, and nothing in the Star Wars world is gonna be chunkier than a Hutt.

Disney CEO Suggests Baby Yoda is a Packers Fan, Internet Not Having It

Baby Yoda as Packers Fan
(Twitter/RobertIger)

Baby Yoda is having a moment. He’s taken the internet by storm and must be protected at all costs, before being fully exploited. Even the news Baby Yoda was coming to Build-A-Bear was well received and the scale had yet to be tipped.

That is, until yesterday when the head of Disney took things too far, making Baby Yoda officially a corporate SHILL. Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, tweeted an image of Baby Yoda decked out in Green Bay Packers colors shortly before the NFC Championship game with a simple “Let’s go @Packers” message.

The internet didn’t take it well. While it’s still unconfirmed if this is a picture from Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” (it’s not), many were not happy with the blatant misrepresentation of everyone’s favorite force baby.

Clearly the Force was very much with the San Francisco 49ers, who thoroughly crushed the Packers and ended their season. Seeing the Baby Yoda magic come up short must make the memes like this sting a little bit more, but this is the risk you take by bringing a beloved icon into the mix.

Honestly, it probably makes more sense for Baby Yoda to be a 49ers fan, given that Lucasfilm’s offices are in San Francisco. Of course, he’s an alien in a fictional universe, so…maybe he doesn’t have any sports allegiances?

And inevitably, some decided to adopt the practice of making Baby Yoda a shill for whatever they wanted.

Disney has made several missteps with the Star Wars franchise in the eyes of many fans, and now their CEO has made yet another, keeping Baby Yoda out of the Super Bowl by tying him to the woefully inadequate Packers.

Boy Finally Able to Hug His Brother With New ‘Hulk’ Prosthetic Arm

Boy Hugs Brother With Hulk Arm
(Twitter/republic)

A 5-year-old boy in the U.K. became the first to receive a full prosthetic arm recently after being born prematurely and missing a significant portion of his left arm. And the thing Jacob Scrimshaw most excited to do with his new bionic arm? Finally hug his little brother.

The parents started looking into the groundbreaking procedure after the boy came home from school crying one day.

“I always thought Jacob coped well without his arm, but when he came home from school in tears I knew we had to do something,” his mom told a British news agency.

They initially had a tough time finding someone who could produce a functional prosthetic arm, as most said it wasn’t a reality when the upper arm was involved. The family eventually found a company that agreed to make it a reality so they crowd-funded to raise the money for it.

The robotic arm is pretty innovative (and not cheap, as it cost more than $20,000) but the boy is most excited because it’s green and modeled after The Hulk. His parents were excited to watch him open Christmas presents with two hands for the first time. And his little brother? Just excited to get a full hug from big bro.

A Stranger Who Found a Sweet Note is on a Mission to #FindEmmasDad

Woman Finds Note From Daughter #FindEmmasDad
(Twitter/NevadaRoamer)

A woman was leaving the Denver airport when she saw what she thought was a piece of trash on the ground. She decided to pick it up to “put litter in its place” but realized it was a heartfelt note written by a girl to her father. What she thought was trash, was actually treasure – so she decided to try to find Emma’s dad.

“It was just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever read,” the woman, Alex Roberts, told a Denver news outlet. She shared a picture of the note on Twitter and started a campaign to #FindEmmasDad.

The note read:

Dear, Daddy
In all the things I do, I want to do them just like you. Although right now sort of small. Like you I want to be brave and smart, cause I love you, Daddy, with all my heart. When I am older I’ll be so glad if I grow up to be just like you.
Love, Emma

Ok, she is right, that is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. Roberts said she wants to find the dad so he can keep the deeply heartfelt letter, something she said she would treasure if it came from her kid. Still, she knows it’s a long shot to #FindEmmasDad.

“I mean what are the chances we find this person? But how cool would it be if we actually did?” she told a Denver News Channel. She surmised the dad is a big part of young Emma’s life.

“I feel like he’s a role model. He’s a very active person in her life and having a lot to do with how she perceives the world,” she said. “And I think that’s the kind of parent most people want to be and it sounds like this guy is succeeding.”

Yes, it is a longshot. But the Denver news stations seem to be signal-boosting the call, and the internet has banded together to solve far more hopeless situations. So, if you know the Dad of an Emma who either lives in Denver or has been in the airport recently (OK, this really may be a pretty big longshot), tell him to come get his letter!

Australia Is Airdropping Veggies For Animals Affected By Bushfires

Australia is Airdropping Veggies
(YouTube/Reuters)

As summer continues in the fire-ravaged Australia, experts are doing everything they can to mitigate the lasting devastation to the ecosystem. While every resource is still being used to fight the fires, including firefighters volunteering to help from other countries, experts are still trying to figure out how to help some of the animals affected by the blazes.

Experts estimate that more than 1 BILLION (with a B) animals have died because of the fires. Even those that don’t perish in the flames can have a difficult time surviving the aftermath, and officials are trying to make finding food easier for the endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies by air-dropping thousands of pounds of vegetables in New South Wales.

This is a really encouraging response to see. Mainly because it shows some sensitivity to the horrible aftermath of this disaster. But also, it’s pretty cool to see a picture of someone dumping out vegetables out of a helicopter (this may be related to my inherent anti-vegetable bias).

Officials said more than 4,000 pounds of carrots and sweet potatoes have been chucked to the grounds of the fire-ravaged forests to provide some relief to the starving animals. The National Parks and Wildlife Services are expected to continue the program to airdrop food for the animals until natural food resources return to the area.