What Being a Fan of Sin Gets You

If you’re looking for a metaphor for the tendency to make light of sin, Eric Torpy’s story may be one you want to save for your sermon illustrations file.

First, a little background.

Growing up in New England, I’ve been a Boston sports fan all my life. My professional basketball team is the Boston Celtics. If you’ve followed basketball – or, frankly even if you haven’t – you’ve likely heard of one of the Celtics greatest players. He’s Larry Bird and, truthfully, he’s one of the NBA’s greatest all time players.

There are many fans of “Larry Legend” but Eric Torpy might be one of the most foolish. In October, 2005 Torpy was convicted in Oklahoma of armed robbery and shooting with intent to kill and sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

However, Torpy was a big Larry Bird fan and Bird’s number was 33. So Torpy asked the judge to add three more years to his sentence so his 33-year penalty would match Bird’s number.

(You read that right. Two sources below.)

(No, really, it’s not made up. Two sources below.)

Probably sounded cool when he said it. Once he began serving the sentence? Not so much.

Bird Torpy

Eric Torpy in Prison (Stan Grossfeld/Boston Globe)

From the Boston Globe piece:

But after sharing a 10-foot-by-15-foot cell at the Davis Correctional Facility for the last six years, Torpy regrets asking for the extra time.

“Now that I have to do that time, yes I do,’’ says Torpy. “I kind of wished that I had 30 instead of 33. Recently I’ve wisened up.

“That three is a big deal, you know? Three years matters.’’

A great illustration for the regret of sin, isn’t it? The temptation is always scintillating, with promises of pleasure and popularity. But it never, never ends up that way. To sin with vigor and intent continuously is to beg for those three more years…and three more…and three more…

Even sadder when there’s freedom just waiting…on the cross.

Torpy was asked if he thinks Bird knows about him:

“I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m an idiot,’’ says Torpy. “I mean, truthfully, most people do. My own family does, so I’m pretty sure he does, too.’’



The Bird Man of Prison

Felon Gets Longer Sentence to Match Bird Jersey