This is an early morning piece designed to motivate you.
There are moments in our lives that we wish we could have back, that we wish to relive.
There are moments we keep in our hearts forever and cherish,
there are moments that we use as fuel to create even better moments.
This is a post about those moments.
My moments of brilliance, where i realize what i was capable of once I set my mind to it. Everyone wields greatness. It’s as if it were a program designed in ever human being to do the spectacular. But it comes at the cost of hard work and dedication. Time and patience.
Here i’m going tell a story of this.
The setting, high school 12th grade. 2011-2012, I was 17 at the time.
Take a trip down memory lane with me. I was this 5’8 half fit, half chubby dude with no swag or orientation whatsoever. I was going to try out for my high school basketball team for the third year in a row. I had failed the previous two times. My freshman year i was way too scared and didn’t believe in myself. My sophomore year I gained confidence, but still i played shaky and uncoordinated, I failed miserably. Didn’t even make the first cut. That didn’t deter me at all. I kept working, trying to gain confidence and i tried out the next year. junior year was a blur, I don’t even remember trying out that year. That means it was terrible. moving on to the end of my junior year.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I woke up on June 11th like it was a regular day. It was a Sunday I believe, and i was going through my regular routine. I began to check Facebook, like ever other millennial teen stuck to their phones.
That’s when I saw it. There were RIP posts all down my timeline. RIP Eddie was all I saw. Eddie Stanley, A friend of mine was killed at a party the night before. Gunshot wounds was the culprit. It was a death that sent shock waves through the hood. All deaths do that, they are all special. But this one hit close to home this time. Schenectady is a small place, when someone dies we all feel it, even if we weren’t connected directly to that person, someone we know is connected to them and we all have memories of them. Plus, the loss of a black soul crumbles my heart into pieces.
This one hit close to home because I knew Eddie on a personal level. We used to play ball at the boys and girls club. He was ambitions with his hoop dreams. Had a lot of potential. He was 11 days from his 16th birthday when he passed. “basketball is my ticket out the hood” Was his line. And he stuck to that. A gym rat, always wanting to hoop. I barely saw him without a basketball or being around one. That motivated me to pursue my own hoop dreams. I was always around basketball players but i was the terrible one. But After Eddie’s death i as determined to prove that wrong.
I worked diligently all summer. I was playing ball everyday. I was determined to make the basketball team this year and nothing was going to stop me. Every day i worked hard, I got in shape and I focused on one goal. People told me I had a chance because Eddie was gone. That only motivated me even further. I REALLY wanted to play for this season. Good or bad i didn’t care.
Workouts began and i came in focused and prepared. I played hard every day, took every workout seriously. This year, I knew i was going to make it. I had that much faith in myself. I didn’t miss a single workout. Then came the infamous day. First cuts. I was in class nervous. Jittery nervous. I never felt that nervous before. Coach puts the names for the team on a list on a sheet of paper outside the gym. I looked at that paper, I scrolled down the list. I got all the way to the end an I didn’t see my name. I was devastated. My heart broke into pieces, and I wanted to cry. I hit a very low point in the moment.
I worked really hard, I truly believed that this was my moment. I remember sulking the entire day. I wanted to be a part of that team, I wanted to play in my friend’s name. I knew i would be a valuable asset to the team with my work ethic and hustle. I had decent ball handling skills, i could’t shoot as good as others. And i knew my leadership skills lacked. But my play on the court would make up for that.
The coaching staff thought otherwise.
That day would be infamous for me.
However it was through that failure that i found success. My best friend had made the JV team That year, and i had my mother drive us to practice. I just wanted to watch, see where i went wrong.
This is when Fate called me.
I remember this moment too. The coach called me over, he was this 5’2 white guy.
He asked me if i was interested in being team manager.
translation, water boy.
that’s one of the most degrading things one can be named. Water boy, me this boy with all this pride, the water boy.
But in that moment, I didn’t hesitate. I said yes with conviction, I knew there was more than basketball to this. I was meant to be there, on that day, to be that manager of that team.
This was for Eddie, not for anything else. I threw all my pride to the side that day to be a part of the team. Me this weird little awkward child who was terrible at ball, was a member of that team. I call myself the 16th man.
I was the first to practice everyday, The last to leave. working on my shot everyday. working on my skills. just trying to be better no matter what. I would bring out Eddie’s old jersey, #11. His jersey would come to games with us and it was my task to bring him.
I did, Every game. I made that my mission everyday. And I worked hard everyday to better my skills and be a better player.
we went 6-12 that year, it was horrible. But the fun i had from that season i will never give up. I would go through that experience everyday. When the season was over, I left a better basketball player and was awarded 500 dollars in scholarship money for my valiant effort. I made some people cry, including my mom.
My greatness was translated through my dedication to my friend, and I appreciate the growth i earned from it.
The greatness comes from the dedication to something bigger than me, even though our record wasn’t translated into success, the success I garnered from all of that meant so much more.