• Baylor friends remember Dr. John Cheng (BA ’91) following Laguna Woods shooting

    Dr. John Cheng, as a doctor and in college

    Chances are good that by now, you’ve heard the name “Dr. John Cheng.” The Southern California sports physician died Sunday after literally taking the bullet when a gunman opened fire at an Orange County church. Cheng’s actions almost certainly saved multiple lives.

    What you may not have heard was that Cheng was a Baylor Bear — Class of 1991. (The photo above right shows Cheng during a study abroad trip with two Baylor fraternity brothers.) Both his final actions and the life he led are the epitome of making us all “BaylorProud.” Just listen to the words of those who knew him:

    “He was such a servant, and he was such a guy willing to do whatever for his friend,” said Kappa Omega Tau fraternity brother James Runnels (BA ’89, MA ’92). “Basically, he laid down his life for his friends. He was just a solid, Christian doctor. And on our fraternity Facebook page, alumni, many of the guys said it didn’t surprise them at all that he gave his life protecting others. That’s just the kind of person he was. He always put others himself, and lived his life like Jesus did — sacrificing for others.”

    “He really had a heart for the Lord in a way that not any other man that I ever met did, and from a young age,” says Heidy McWhorter (BBA ’93), who attended both Marshall High School and Baylor with Cheng. “He was indeed [a] light to the very end — to professional athletes as their official doctor, his community, his medical practice patients, his martial arts academy clients, his church family and friends. John was a rock star making Christ more famous one person at a time with every genuine, loving, caring and kind interaction he had with each person God brought in his path.”

    “He’s a hero,” says Baylor history professor Stephen Sloan (BBA ’90, MA ’98), another fraternity brother. “He undoubtedly saved lives, and that’s what John would have wanted. It is not a surprise to me that John led the charge to save others. … He was a black belt in kung fu, he was a committed Christian, he had very varied interests, but he was sincere in everything that he did. The Lord could have been preparing him for this, because of the training and hours he has put into self-defense and the artistry in which he pursued that. It all came together on that one day, and he was able to use it to protect others.”

    “You could just tell he was a very loving person,” adds Jinny Henson (BSED ’92), who knew Cheng from a college Bible study. “He was very calm, very centered, loved the Lord. He was born to be a protector and to be a helper.”

    “I was at lunch [one day] in Penland and pledging Phi Kappa Chi,” recalled Taekuk Cho (BA ’94). “John, a KOT, asked if he could have a chat. He thanked me for going Greek, as we were two of the only four Asians in the entire Greek system. That day still resonates.”

    “We spent many sunny Saturdays as sparring partners in Cameron Park some three decades ago,” remembers Dr. Blake Leath (BBA ’92). “He was fast as lightning, warm-hearted, kind, approachable, funny, internally driven, and always had a smile on his face… yet ‘humility’ is the singular, overarching word that comes to mind whenever I think of John. … All the good John did for so many, the love he put out into the world through his words and deeds, and the legacy of light he leaves behind will surely illuminate the futures of everyone who came into contact with this dear man.”

    I didn’t know Dr. Cheng — but I do know Jesus’ words: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

    [Update: Some of John’s friends from his time at Baylor are working to fund a BU scholarship in his honor; if you’re interested in joining their efforts, you can make a gift here.]