Sad day

Pouring out some liquor for a brother of mine.

Pouring out some liquor for a brother of mine.

A good friend, who will go unnamed in this piece out of respect to his loved ones, passed away.  I always find myself thinking, why am I still here after I hear about a childhood friend or former teammate being murdered or locked up in prison?  What did I do to be fortunate enough to avoid prison, heavy drug addiction and death at a young age and what am I going to do, to help prevent others from falling to the same fate?

My friend and I came from different cities but it always seemed as if we had been friends in a former life or something.  We met overseas during my time in Latin America.  Our friendship was formed out of a mutual respect for one another.  We were not teammates, both of us played really well in a head to head match up.  So well that I had to let him know that the game we had just played in was special.  Ill never forget that moment.
Basketball was our escape.  No matter how hard basketball seemed at times, it was never as tough as real life.  After basketball, if one is not done with school or doesn’t care about school altogether they end up living off whatever money they made from basketball.

I have met some of the most genuine people because of basketball, that have helped me shape my thought process and establish principles to live by.

I have met some of the most genuine people because of basketball, that have helped me shape my thought process and establish principles to live by.

At some point after retiring, a player has to come to the realization that they no longer play and they will eventually have to get a job in the real world, as most of us are not fortunate enough to make enough money to never work again.  I say real world, because basketball is not real, and now that I have been retired for four years I truly believe that basketball was a dream.

My friend and I would talk about our new experiences as members of the real world.  I told him about me becoming a cook, and eventually a Chef of my own catering business.  I told him about my babies being born, I told him about the struggles, the countless eviction notices and the lights being turned off.  He told me about his daughter being born, and how he was out in the streets selling drugs and committing robberies.

On one end i thought, damn my guy reverted back to what we avoided during our time playing basketball.  That happens a lot.  I know a lot of former athletes that played sports their whole life only to end up in the very streets they escaped from.

In my friends situation, he was a product of his environment.

Unlike me who had numerous role models, both positive and negative to look up to, my friend had all negative role models.  When I say negative, I am not saying that they were bad people, but the roles they played and their actions usually hurt people more so than they helped.

All he knew was basketball.  He use to always say “If I wasn’t hoopin I would be dead or in jail.”  This is a reality a lot of us face.  Basketball should never be that important.

Im thankful he was able to use it as a vessel to learn about new cultures, meet new people and see the world from a view few black men get to experience.    I just wish that he could have moved to Seattle like him and I talked about.  I wish that we were both in a position to make that happen.  Im scared, I think about my friends here in Seattle, as well in various cities around the US that use to play a sport.  Still trying to fill the void that is left after the game moves on risking freedom and in some cases risking their lives.

My friend rose from a hopeless situation, he had trouble in college.  He found a home playing ball in numerous countries in Latin America.  The game, the skype conversations, emails, and reports on how our families were doing will be missed.  My friend will be missed.  My love goes out to him and his family.

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