When one of your dearest friends and hero passes away there are multiple ways to pay homage and honor, yet I never thought I would get to be a part of a moment like this.
The great hero of my youth and friend into my adult years, NBA All-Star, and now inducted into the NSA Speaker Hall of Fame Class of 2021, Mark Eaton, CSP, CPAE, was recognized in a most unique way this week in Las Vegas at our industry’s grandest event, INFLUENCE. It was an incredible tear jerker and profound experience for all.
Every person who ever approached Big Mark over 40 years of being on stage and stardom, asking for an autograph, was kindly welcomed with his powerful handshake, radiant smile, and caring eyes. Humility was his hallmark.
Everyone was his friend and he took care of them.
Mark Eaton is the first in NSA history to be inducted into the CPAE Hall of Fame and not able to accept the award, due to his tragic passing on May 28th, and yet he smiles upon us from his heavenly home, as his peers recognized & voted him as the best among us, as both a speaker and human being.
Chad Hymas, CSP, CPAE, and I had the privilege to introduce Mark’s induction to a surprised and thrilled audience, and we did our best to tag team and not cry all through it.
A heart bigger than his 7’4” frame, the love of his life, Teri Eaton sent us a most moving acceptance speech that brought tears in abundance, as every speaker in the audience had been inspired and influenced by Mark, carrying with them a story of his commitment to excellence and personal customized connection.
Below is the video of Teri’s beautiful speech audio recording set to photos, as well as the In-Person audience reaction to this amazing moment in Las Vegas, NV, Caesars Palace.
Having Mark’s coaches and business associates through the years of his speaking career, two Greats in Kathy Loveless, CSP, and Verl Workman, CSP, to hold the award while I unfurled his Utah Jazz #53 retired jersey, I did my best to hide my tears and bow my head in the shadow with gratitude to his final stage moment.
How grateful we are that NSA would move forward with this incredible moment, as it wasn’t sure how to handle his induction without him there, and they gave his friends the moment to highlight him, they chose to allow Mark’s entire video to be played, which is posted below for you to see his brilliance as a communicator and why he was inducted to the Hall.
We miss you Mark, and revere your dedication to become the top of this craft of speaking.
Thank you for being our hero, and for being everyone’s friend.
In the words of Jess Pettitt “He was an NBA All-Star on accident, but a Hall of Fame Speaker on purpose!”
We love you Big Mark, and Promise to keep your legacy alive.
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~ Jason Hewlett
* The Promise Institute Co-Founder
* Promise Culture Keynote Speaker
* Speaker Hall of Fame
Author of “The Promise To The One”