Kevin Malone is best known for his days as a Major League general manager. He spent time with many organizations but truly left his mark on the game by leading the Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1994 through 2001.
Things were going well but like so many hard-charging executives, Kevin was neglecting one of the most important areas of his life: his family. His son Shawn took notice of this. Driven by loneliness and his father’s frequent absences, Shawn ventured down a very dark road, one that would nearly kill him. Sadly, there was nothing his high-profile father could do to save him. It would take nothing short of a miracle to bring him back. And fortunately, one did.
The Shawn Miracle documentary, available now for viewing free of charge on ShawnMiracle.com, is the story of Shawn Malone’s miraculous healing from a traumatic brain injury caused by a drug overdose. Dispensing valuable lessons on the power of prayer and proof that God is a God of second chances, the Malone’s graciously open up on a very painful chapter in their lives in the hope that their story will help others.
I recently spoke to Kevin Malone about what the family did when doctors told his family there was no hope for Shawn, his experience with miracles prior to what happened to his son, and what God taught him through this harrowing ordeal.
Having worked around Major League Baseball as a member of the sports media, I realize that your role as a general manager was highly demanding and time consuming. Late nights and early mornings at the ballpark sprinkled with a ton of activity in between. What sort of an effect did that have on your family?
It had a major impact on my family because as you just mentioned, I was never home. I was a workaholic and my priority was to win championships, not to be the best husband I could be or the best father I could be. So unfortunately, my family, my wife and kids made a lot of sacrifices for my career. I didn’t have my priorities straight or in order. And I think it put a strain on my marriage and I don’t think I was the best father. I was giving them all the things that I thought they wanted, but what they wanted was time with me. I didn’t learn that until after the fact or until it was almost too late. This would be word of encouragement to all men out there that have families: Yes, work’s important. It’s very important and we should do the best we can. We would give our best and try to accomplish all that we can, but not for the sake of sacrificing our wife and our kids. Let’s make sure that we have our priorities in order. Our jobs aren’t more important than our wives and our kids.
When he was a teenager, your son Shawn started down a dark road filled with drug use. Yet, he was valedictorian of his class and was attending college at USC. How did you find out about Shawn’s drug problem? How did you as a family deal with it?
There were signs early on in high school, probably his freshman or sophomore year. You could just tell. There was a change of character, change of attitude, running with a different crowd of people. Although he did play football his freshman year and played golf all four years, he just kind of withdrew from his athletic friends and started running more with a darker crowd, a party crowd. We did everything we could. My wife was very rigid about where he was and who his friends were. She was really keeping tabs on him. We had curfew and we did all that we could to try to keep healthy boundaries, but he pushed the envelope like a lot of kids do.
And then once he got to the University of Southern California, he was with a bunch of kids there that had money and access to alcohol, drugs, and the party life. He really had no accountability. He didn’t have anybody looking over his shoulder and making sure that they were doing the right things. So, it just became full blown chaos there.
And then, during his junior year, he went to study abroad at the international business school at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He did very well and didn’t really party much. After his semester abroad, he went back to school, working on his international business degree. He did very well there. But one night, he went out with his friends, partied, and overdosed. He did too many drugs and never woke up. The actual 911 call is in the movie. Then a few days later, the neurologist told us he was brain dead and suggested pulling the feeding tube. He went on to say that if he ever woke up he would be in a vegetative state. He won’t want him to live like that. They suggested what would be best is to starve him to death by pulling the feeding tube. And we said, no, we’re going to trust in God. We’re going pray, fast, and ask God for a miracle.
What happened to your family when the doctors told you that there was no hope for your son? Obviously, that is a feeling that no parent wants to endure.
Well, at first, it was a bit of shock in what they were saying was the solution. My daughter, who’s very competitive and a fighter said, “Dad, we’ve got to find somewhere that will take him and will provide the help and that he needs to recover from this. My wife and I, we really clung to the Lord. We just felt like, okay, if the world’s telling us that he’s gone and he’s basically brain dead, then we’re going to trust God for a miracle. In the movie, my wife states, “God, if Shawn knows you then take him home.” This was during the time he was in a coma. “But if he doesn’t know you, we need a miracle because he doesn’t have a relationship with you, God. He doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. And he needs a miracle to come back.” So, God provided that. He gave Shawn and our family a second chance, but it created strife along the way. My wife was spending all her days at the hospital and I stayed every night with him. We were just making sure he was getting the care and the attention that he needed. We did that for about a month and a half. And then, we finally ended up air ambulancing him to a great hospital in Inglewood, Colorado. The first two hospitals said they couldn’t help him. They basically kicked us out and we found a hospital that felt like they could help him. There, Dr. Allen Weintraub felt like in time that he would come out of this coma and he was right.
There’s challenges along the way. You question each other, you blame each other, and you just wonder. We never lost faith in God because we knew that we were desperate for God. We knew that He was our only hope, our only chance, because man was giving us no hope. When everybody started to leave Jesus and run away from Jesus, He said to Peter, “You’re going to leave me too.” And Peter said, “Well, where am I going to go? Jesus, you have the words of eternal life.” That’s what we felt like. Where are we going to go? Where are we going to run to? Jesus is our only answer. So, we just clung to Him. We spent a lot of time in prayer, in the Word, and just prayed. We just cried out to God for a miracle. And God delivered. God is a faithful God. So, that’s why we decided to make that movie is to put God on display, let people know that God is a God of hope and that miracles still do happen. God loves us and wants the best for us. We experienced that and want the world to know.
Did you believe in miracles prior to what happened in Shawn’s life?
That’s a great question, Chris. I believed in miracles, but until you experience one right in your own house, it’s a little different. I believe in miracles because I know God is a miracle worker. I have spent a lot of time in the Bible, reading and studying the Word. I’d heard about miracles in different places and miracles happening to different people. But until it really strikes close to home or actually in your own home (it’s hard to get perspective). I did believe in them, but I really didn’t know much about miracles. I’ve run in different denomination and theological circles where some believe that miracles ceased, others don’t believe miracles ceased. It just depends on who you’re talking to and their theology. I believed in miracles, but I really didn’t have any firsthand knowledge of them until God did one in my own family.
What did God teach you through this entire experience?
I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful. He’s a faithful God to his promises. But I think the biggest thing that I learned personally, is that when we are fully surrendered, when push all of our chips in, when we’re a hundred percent in, we’re not lukewarm, we’re not half in and half out. We actually experienced God in a special way. This life of following Jesus is amazing. It doesn’t mean things are perfect or there’s no problems. There’s no issues. It just means to experience God through faith in Jesus. Once you’re fully in and know He’s tasteful, it’s kind of a different lifestyle. It’s doesn’t mean I don’t have challenges without struggle. I don’t get mad. I don’t do stupid stuff. I don’t sin at times. It just means that I believe I know where victory is.
I needed God to squash me like a bug, to humble me, and along the way I’ve experienced a lot of different things. I’ve experienced failure. And it’s through being broken, and through being humbled, that I was able to clearly see God. That helped my vision to become 20/20, to be broken. I can clearly see who God was.
How is Shawn doing today?
He’s doing great. He loves the Lord. After he came out of his coma he repented of his sins and asked Jesus to forgive him for being a sinner. He is following Jesus full-time now. It’s amazing. He was a partier and a fighter. He was a chip off the old block, but he had a radical encounter with Jesus who gave him a second chance at life.
He studied Hebrew. He’s been to Israel three times. I’ve been eight. We have a great love for Israel. And he walked where Jesus walked. He studies the Word. He fasts one day a month, every month. And he’s been doing that for years. So, he’s seeking God. He’s still trying to figure out exactly what God wants him to do, but he’s sharing his testimony. The Shawn Miracle movie is just telling people about what God’s done in his life. I’d say he’s doing pretty well. And I know my wife and I are just grateful that we know where he’s going to spend eternity because of his relationship with Jesus. That’s a huge plus.
Watch a Trailer The Shawn Miracle: