Imagine a toddler falling in love with his Little Tikes basketball hoop and finding a life’s passion at a tender young age.
Imagine that same little boy, no more than 10 years old, shooting hoops in his ice-encrusted driveway during the dead of winter. Hour after hour. Defying all laws of frostbite and logic. Driven to perfect his shot at all costs.
Now imagine him as a crazed adolescent bouncing that damn ball throughout the house, driving his mother over the edge. (part of the fun, I am sure).
Fast forward to 9th grade and this young man struggles with the decision to leave his friends and the security of his hometown public school to attend a private High School and be part of an elite basketball team. Forgoing summer camp opportunities he chose to play basketball year round to hone his game. Playing through injuries and, well – not so gently put – height challenges. All without a single complaint. Never saying die. Always pushing forward, doing his best, working his hardest. With a smile on his face.
Mikey Buckets, they have called him. He is smart, swift and driven. What he lacks in size he makes up for in court sense. I have known him since he was in utero and quite frankly I have come head to head with his determined style on some not so pleasant occasions during his early years. But as we hoped, he channeled that determination to be the best he could possibly be. Against all odds.
The reason I am writing about him today is because I could not be any prouder if I had carried this child myself. This past weekend, as a 10th grader on varsity, his team won the state finals! A dream realized for a young man who never listened to the mean-spirited commentary that he was too short. Too white. Too green. Too suburban. Too much of a dreamer to make it in such a competitive sport.
So here’s to you Mike, I am proud to say at your tender age of 15 you are an inspiration to me. One of my heroes. And whenever I think I can’t, you will remind me that I sure as hell can.
We love you!
(but PLEASE, can you stop dribbling that ball in the house!)
The photo above is Mike and my son Danny. A REALLY long time ago.
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