Of all the things I’ve seen on One Tree Hill (limo crashes, heart eating dogs, doppelganger psychos) the evolution of Nathan Scott from high school douche bag to husband and father of the year has been the most extraordinary, wonderful thing I’ve witnessed. His journey to become the ultimate romantic hero has been frustrating and heartbreaking at times while sublime and uplifting at others but it has always felt like one of the most genuine parts of this sometimes unbelievable story.
When we’re first introduced to Nathan he’s a cocky, cheating, bully with a bad temper, in other words, a total DICK. While his half brother went without, Nathan went with plenty: two parents, big house, basketball camp, cheerleader girlfriend, and slammin’ coordinating basketball themed clothes. But what Nathan really had was an absentee mother, a controlling and manipulative father and a home life no one would be jealous of. Overcoming that home life, the influence of his horror of a father and learning from his many mistakes turns that cocky bully into a doting father, a loving husband, and a selfless friend.
For most of us, overcoming hardship goes hand in hand with a modification of goals and a reevaluation of our path when it’s clear that without change, we cannot become our best self and it’s no different for Nathan. Time after time it is his ability to make those changes that proves he can be a better man than his father, can have a better life than the miserable bully who lives vicariously through him. Growing up, Nathan had one goal: making it into the NBA. This goal stems not just from his love of basketball, but from his desperate need for his father’s love and approval. When Nathan finds Haley, he realizes for the first time that life has more to offer.
Teenagers’ getting married is ridiculous, but Nathan and Haley, for some reason, I allow. She generously gives him the love and approval he has constantly sought out but she gives it without conditions. She becomes the one thing in his life that makes sense. The one thing that is solid, supportive and encouraging, regardless of how he performs on the basketball court and uncaring of what he owns or has access to. She forgives his mistakes and provides that first sense of what “home” really feels like.
In his attempt to hold tight to this new found feeling he risks losing it altogether. An ultimatum forcing Haley to choose between following her own dreams and staying with him doesn’t exactly go his way. And while Haley is not without fault, his willingness to admit his wrongs and forgive hers allows for a future in which he has learned from his mistakes and encourages her to chase her bliss as she has supported him in chasing his.
Not that he hasn’t had to jump a hurtle or 500 of his own in order to follow his dream. When it comes time to pick a college, Nathan has the option to follow his father’s path at his father’s urging, by ignoring the wants and needs of his pregnant wife. This path will surely lead to a pro basketball career but in a conscience effort to avoid becoming Dan Scott, he chooses the other path, to make his decision as a father, as a husband, and as a partner in his shared life with Haley.
However, his decision becomes moot when, in a lapse of judgment, he makes a deal with a loan shark. Not only does this deal nearly cost him the State Championship, but it nearly costs him the love of his life and the life of his unborn son as well. And while Haley is able to forgive him for his lapse, the authorities are not. He can take the easy way out and let his brother take the fall, but he refuses to let that happen on the grounds that he’d never want his son to believe that he didn’t know right from wrong. He is willing to give up his lifelong dream of basketball in order to keep the integrity his father readily tossed out the window.
As it turns out though, it’s not his gambling history that crushes his pro basketball dreams but the spine crushing injury sustained when he loses his temper in a bar fight on the eve of the NBA draft. Nathan is of course devastated. After working hard to prove himself on the basketball court in college, one wrong move has put him in a wheel chair, watching the draft from his living room, bottle of booze close at hand. But when he finally opens his eyes to the realization that by refusing to move on, he is losing Haley’s love and Jamie’s respect, he forces himself to rise above and be the husband and father he has, until this point, strived so hard to be. The one he knows they deserve.
And just when Nathan is on the verge of getting his life back, Crazy Nanny Carrie threatens to take it all away. Her “Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” routine with the nakedness and the flirting and the kissing causes more damage to his marriage than all previous struggles combined. And though not at fault, he is wrong to keep it from Haley. And he knows it. But after one screaming match nearly takes his son from them both, he steps back and allows Haley the space she needs to get past his mistake. And when the time for space is done, he reminds her that she is the one that saved him; not only from death, but from a fate worse than death, a life without love and happiness.
His happy life with Haley and Jamie is what supports him and encourages him as he drives to make his NBA dreams come true. Finally, as a result of his talent, his work ethic and his pure determination, those dreams are realized. And when in the peak of his professional career, another accusation of infidelity comes knocking at their door, he is able to tell his wife honestly that the incrimination holds no water, that his heart , body and soul have always remained true. It’s unfortunate that she has initial doubts but when he doesn’t hold that against her, he shows that he can love and forgive as well as he has been loved and forgiven.
It is that love, learned and perfected through the years, that has made him into the husband and father he is today. Nathan Scott is an embodiment of refreshing characteristics rarely found in today’s television atmosphere. Through family death, a new baby girl and trading in his basketball dream, he has remained steadfast in his determination to avoid his father’s legacy. By refusing to repeat his mistakes and by constantly striving to be a better version of himself, he proves yet again that he is worthy of my love and the love Haley has so freely given since their first kiss. A love shared always and forever.
*Special thanks to my friend Melissa and to my husband, my very own Nathan Scott, for their help and love and support.