Kayla Baker’s mother sees good in Bieber

Jeff Hicks

Jan 24, 2014

CAMBRIDGE – Susan Tremblett won’t join the frenzied social-media pile-on.

The Cambridge woman won’t ridicule Justin Bieber’s serious lifestyle problems.

She won’t snicker while an NHL jumbotron mocks him as a clownish Leafs fan in an orange inmate jumpsuit. She won’t chuckle as others photo-shop his facial features into a transgendered Miley Cyrus mash-up.

Such cruel scorn heaped on a immensely-talented and deeply-troubled kid from Stratford.

Tremblett, 40, has seen Bieber at his 19-year-old best.

"He’s very sweet," she said on Friday morning as Bieber’s alleged drag racing and driving-under-the-influence-antics in Miami Beach dominated the perverse Twitter-verse.

Sweet? Yes. And kind. And generous. Eschewing publicity.

That’s how she saw Bieber just a few days after Christmas.

Tremblett’s 15-year-old daughter Kayla was struggling at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto six months after a potentially life-saving lung transplant didn’t take.

Justin Bieber showed up. As a favour to mutual family friends, he left his Stratford holiday break to visit Kayla. He asked only that his low-key visit, with just two bodyguards, be kept quiet. Two champions of the organ donation cause hanging out like typical teens.

One of them only had days to live. Kayla died on New Year’s Day.

"He treated her like a normal kid," Tremblett said.

They listened to one of his new songs and he gave her a download of his new movie. After all, Kayla had seen him in concert. She was star-struck. For all the hockey players and mayors and boxers and television vampires who stopped by her hospital bed to salute her determination, none had Justin’s fan-girl gravitas.

"She had a lot of great experiences," Tremblett said of her high-profile visitors. "But Justin Bieber made her speechless for the first five minutes."

Bieber asked a lot of questions about Kayla over a half-hour visit. He was not self-absorbed. He was more a fan of her than vice-versa. Keep fighting. Don’t give up, her urged. They posed for pictures. He asked that they not be posted on Facebook.

"It just shows his character," Tremblett said.

"He took the time out of his Christmas and didn’t want anything for it."

But, a few weeks later, Bieber has shown an astoundingly different side of his complex personality to the world.

He’s gone from the top of the pops to the shop of the cops in five years. He’s mugging for his mug-shot. It’s a Shakespearean-style tragedy. It’s also difficult for Tremblett to digest. The Bieber she met was so thoughtful and princely. The Bieber of Miami Beach is a thoughtless louse.

"I don’t condone drinking and driving and I don’t condone drugs," she said. "This one could have cost him more than a drunk driving charge. It could have cost a life."

The preciousness of a young life, which brought him to Kayla’s side a few weeks ago, seemed forgotten in the glove box of a yellow Lamborghini.

He’s made himself an easy target. But he is not worthless.

"He’s done a lot of good," Tremblett said, thinking back to the smile he put on Kayla’s blushing face at the hospital.

So Tremblett decided to go public with the photos of Bieber and Kayla. She hopes he learns from his troubles. She hopes people don’t opt to destroy him.

"We just hope he gets the proper guidance," she said.

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Throwback Thursday - An encouragement for us all to give back to others.

The fears that live inside of us, whatever they are, and however they manifest, prevent us from living our highest potential as individuals, and as contributors to the human race.

If we consciously and vigilantly transmute these fears through compassion for others and for ourselves, we will know what is is to live a peaceful existence on this planet.

- Gillian Anderson