As a 17 year-old, all I wanted to do was play basketball, breathe basketball, live basketball, and become a basketball star...
That all changed on the night of December 7th, 1990.
That was a Friday night that I still remember ... oh, so well ... exactly 26 years ago today.
It was our 2nd game of my Senior year ... the year that our team was supposed to dominate. We were picked in all of the local papers to do rather well, as our team looked very promising.
I was blessed to be a part of that team... dunking, hitting bank shots, making "no-look" passes, having tons of fun just living the dream ... and not even close to having a "backup plan" to speak of.
I thought I didn't need it.
Basketball was IT.
Basketball was going to take me as far as I could go.
Basketball was everything.
Coming off of an OT victory in our 1st game against a very scrappy team, we weren't going to take our next opponents lightly.
However, for me, that all came crashing down (literally) when I tore my ACL in my right knee only 9 seconds into the game. I knew it was over as the pain was tremendous beyond my comprehension.
"It"... was my basketball career that I had dreamed about since I was 8 years old. I had just been named "Most Promising Senior Basketball Player" in all of the region where I lived, just a few weeks prior. (The most promising "junior" player made it all the way to the NBA), and, as I was carted off the floor, and delivered into that ambulance, the tears started flowing.
What was I going to do now?
Like in one of those Hallmark movies that my wife, Melissa, has me watch... my life was forever changed that evening... in a VERY positive way.
Changed...just like our nation was, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in one of the most popular days in our nation's history back in 1941... seventy-five years ago today.
How can that be a positive, you might ask? "You might have made it to the NBA!!"
Well, it's a day that I now celebrate, instead of deliberate or commisserate.
You see, my grandfather was on one of those ships (the USS Shaw)... and was only a handful of men to survive when his ship went down. He told us stories before he passed away, about how he remembered going up to the top with rifle in hand, and just trying to shoot as many planes as he could... to no avail, of course.
If he would've been killed that day, I wouldn't exist, as my mom would not have been born, and subsequently I would not have been born either.
Therefore, the NBA certainly would have been neat, but at what cost? For a chance to go down that "yellow brick road of happiness." A happiness that consisted of: cockiness, money, fame, and fortune???
Unfortunately, these are qualities that so many of our youth covet ...and desire.
26 years has taught me a lot about what true happiness is:
I truly believed that I was going to be a basketball player when I "grew up."
The experiences that I had (and still have) with the sport, remain with me today, as I start to watch my own children play, and also as I referee at various levels.
Feel sorry for myself? Back then, probably.
Now? No way.
I am a teacher, and proud to let everyone know it, because when it all comes down to it... we're all teachers to some extent... and we learn 95% of what we teach someone else. That's a pretty high percentage, and it feels great when we do it, doesn't it?
I just happen to get paid for my teaching profession ... a profession that many people call "noble."
A profession that less and less people want to do with their life.
Is it because it's too tough?
Too many hours, and not enough pay?
Too many variables that get in the way?
But isn't that ... life?
My goal is to help you find your passion... your mission in life... whether it's to be a teacher or not. My focus is going to be on each and every one of you that wants to jump on the bus. The bus that will take you to where you truly want to go ... without the tears. (Don't worry, it won't be an ambulance).
How "Powerful" is that?
Come take a ride with me...
...and as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, back in 1932:
"The only thing we have to fear ... is fear itself."
Why not take a chance?