I honestly cannot remember the exact day my parents made Cedric and I choose which direction we wanted to go in sports, but I do remember feeling hesitant. Sure, league soccer and travel soccer were amazing, but so were recreational league, all-stars, and AAU basketball. Our involvement in sports was extremely taxing on our parents. I remember going to church sometimes in our full basketball warm-up and uniform just to get our praise on before games. (Lol!) The choice had to be made, and the question was simple. Which sport would we work hard enough in, so that in return we would receive a free college education? Essentially, that’s what it boiled down to.
Needless to say, Cedric and I both chose basketball. That decision was a no-brainer even from a young age. After all, I had grown to love the game at the age of 8 or 9, from what I can remember. My brother’s skills continued to improve, which kept me anxious to keep stepping-up. We still played soccer for the school team in junior high (now it’s middle school) and high school. Soccer was a great way to stay in shape and it helped with court vision and footwork. I highly recommend soccer as a second sport to any basketball player. I digress.
Once we made the choice to become two of the best basketball players in Dunbar, WV where we grew up, my father immediately went to serious work. He was devoted to prepare us both mentally and physically to be the best. Cedric and I spent countless hours – night and day – perfecting our craft. If we weren’t in church or school, then we were training and playing basketball. Besides shooting the rock at the neighborhood Shawnee Park, our little driveway was the place to hoop. Everyone who had game definitely came to 504 Carver Street to get in some tough games. The space was very limited, so you had to be creative on creating your own shot or breaking down the defender to get past them.
What I loved about the process of becoming the best in our city was that our desire quickly escalated to aspiring to become the best – period! This meant that during every practice, game, and tournament (no matter who we were up against), we went at our opponent hard with the mindset, “You can’t stop me.” Unlike kids today, we didn’t just wish for it, we worked for it. Mom and dad used to yell at us to come inside because the street lights were on and it was dark. I guarantee that if they had allowed us to stay out all night, we would have practiced until midnight.
I’m so thankful to have grown up during the time when working hard was the thing to do. Hard work builds character. It forces you to be focused, persistent, resilient, dedicated and humble. You knew that whatever dream you were chasing there was always a kid willing and ready to put in the work necessary to fight you for the number 1 spot. Where I grew up, you literally could not walk down the street without hearing a ball bounce or without seeing a field of kids playing tackle football without pads. Kids were practicing soccer, baseball, softball, or were doing something to pursue their athletic dream in some way. Unfortunately, young peoples’ mindsets are much much different today.
Does anyone relate or recognize the difference in today’s youth compared to when we grew up (80’s baby) or before even before my time? I’m interested to know what your opinions are? Leave your thoughts and comments below.