Doing Our Best with the Knowledge We Have

I watched this Kyrie Irving ad, and I am not going to lie, it brought me to tears.

I loved basketball as a kid (still do) and I asked my dad for a hoop in our driveway. My dad put together the ugliest green piece of wood ever, that was definitely a quadrilateral but neither a square or rectangle. Not only was it the ugliest backboard ever, but he also put the rim on crooked. The percentage of shots you can make on one side was significantly better than on the other because of the tilt of the rim. At first, I hated it. Then my friends came over, and we would play it on all of the time and the crooked nature of the rim taught you some skills that you had to master for that one court only. It was an embarrassing sight at first, but then it became endearing. I ended up loving that rim.

My dad knew it was important to me, so he did his best with the knowledge that he had to give me the opportunity to play at home.

One of the things that I remember the most about that outdoor rim was that I would play as long as possible, as often as possible. We had a light in our driveway, and I would shoot all of the time. We had a garage, but you couldn’t park in a car in there, and my parents always parked on the street to make sure the court was open. My dad would come home from working at our restaurant from 8 AM until 10 PM, seven days a week. But sometimes, when he would arrive home after 10 PM, and I would still be playing outside. Having no interest in basketball but had an interest in his son, he would ask if he could shoot with me. It was nothing like the commercial but to me, it was just as important. My dad would shoot the ball with his two hands from in between the legs. He had mastered the “granny shot,” and although it would make me laugh, he somehow could make it. He would play for as long as he had energy and then would go inside and head to bed so he could do his day all over again.

I miss those nights the more I get older.

One of the lines from the commercial, “He sacrificed his dream so I could live mine” reminds me a lot of my dad and mom.

When you are a kid, you often get frustrated with your parents’ actions because you do not see the bigger picture. I never understood why my dad didn’t come to my basketball games and it bothered me tremendously. What I realize now was that he was working so I could play in those games. When my father retired, and I refereed basketball as an adult, he would come to cheer me on as a ref and could care less about the game. He wanted to see his son and know that he was okay.

In many of my workshops, parents will come up to me and ask me for advice on something to do with their kids. I often share what I may think but admit that I struggle with parenting myself. My mom used to get on my case for watching too much TV and not going outside as a kid. Then I started playing basketball and would be outside with my friends, and she would complain that I was outside too much and should chill at home and watch TV once in a while. No matter her decision, she always questioned if it was right for my siblings.

My parents weren’t perfect, and I am sure they look back on a lot of things and would do them differently, as would any good parents. What I know is that they did the best they could with the knowledge they had, and I hope that even in my own (and many) missteps that I make for myself, my daughter sees that as well someday, in the same way, I see now with my own father.

I miss him every day, but weirdly, when I see videos like this and take the time to write, it brings me closer to him even after his passing.

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Changing the Trajectories of Those We Serve​

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