My Basketball Hero

Daryl expressed a strong interest in playing basketball this year. We’ve always avoided the sport because it starts during the Christmas season, which always seems so hectic. This year has been even crazier than most, and maybe out of a sense that it really couldn’t be any worse, we agreed to let him play.

The first time that I had to drop him off at practice, the assistant coach introduced himself and then commented on my son.

“He’s quite a scholar. Yes, he is. That one’s definitely a scholar. Just need to get some sports under his belt to get him nice and well rounded.”

So what you are trying to tell me, I thought but didn’t say, is that my son is a terrible basketball player. What I did say was “Yes, he is a very smart young man. He’s really excited about playing basketball this year. It’s his first time to play.”

His team had their first game yesterday. They only have five, maybe six, players but for their first game, they were down even further – to the minimum needed to play: four. The other team had seven. I was expecting slaughter.

Daryl was obviously uncertain what to do. I could see him hesitate as play shifted quickly. But he hustled and got into the mix. Even getting a rebound early in the game and immediately sending it back up for an attempted basket. Fortunately, he missed. It wasn’t his team’s basket.

His coaches didn’t get upset. They yelled in a supportive way to only score at the other end and talked him through it at the next time out. At half time, they made sure he understood that the sides had switched, but by then he had it.

Despite being short-handed, his team was winning easily. Two of the boys were strong players and dominated the court. Daryl still got his hands on the ball though, proving himself reliable at pulling down rebounds and then quickly shooting if on his end of the court, or passing to a more capable dribbler if not.

He even scored four points and assisted on several others. The first time he scored, my heart melted when he turned as soon as the ball swooshed to see if I had seen him.

The coolest thing about watching him play was to watch him running across the court and his face suddenly burst into a magnificent smile, as if he suddenly thought to himself, “I can’t believe I’m actually playing in a basketball game! This is the best thing in the world!” He looked like the happiest boy ever.

And because of that, I am the happiest mom ever. I’ve never been a basketball fan. I don’t know the rules, don’t recognize the referee’s calls, can’t usually tell when someone does something wrong. But for that boy, you’ll find me on the sidelines yelling and cheering and fighting back tears. Cuz that’s my kid out there loving what he’s doing.

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2 thoughts on “My Basketball Hero

  1. That’s so exciting for Daryl! He may turn out to be a great player if the coaches let him develop his skills with enough game time.
    If not, well…he should do what he loves as much as possible and it may open doors in unexpected ways. I’m sure you know that but I’m staying it as encouragement anyway, because I have a happy-ending story for you.

    My younger brother has always loved basketball. And football. And he is quite fond of baseball, too. We grew up north of Boston, and since Dad was a big fan, Celtics games were our ticket to staying up late to watch games. My brother wanted to play, but he was less than stellar in elementary school and didn’t make the Jr. High team. He was devastated at first, but then found an opportunity to write about sports in the school paper. By high school, he was the Sports Editor during his sophomore year, and was promoted to Co-Editor-in-Chief as a junior. He kept the position during senior year, and went to college to major in journalism. Since it was the early 90s, he quickly discovered that the internet was well on its way to overtaking print and decided to learn web design. He got an internship with New England Sports Network, and was offered a job, so straight out of college, he was working through Fenway Park and meeting Red Sox players while hknkng journalism and web skills. His web development career took him to a couple of finance companies and then he freelanced…until the opportunity to interview with the Boston Celtics came along. He secured the job, and made the first and most successful interactive NBA team website. He is now the director of all things media with the team, and is a keynote speaker at media events around the world. His athletic skills may have been lacking, but his technical knowledge of basketball as well as a general love of the game got his foot in the door as a sports writer. That early experience qualified him to have a shot at working in the highly competitive sports market, to see the future of the industry, which led to building a successful career in the very game he loves! He has a job that is the envy of his family and friends, and it is all because he didn’t let a childhood disappointment turn him away from his passion. We couldn’t be more proud of his determination.

    • That is such an inspiring story! It sounds like your brother did an excellent job of watching for opportunities and developing the right skills at the right time. Thank you so much for sharing!

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