This was a sad story…another celeb suicide this week, though a very minor celeb….but this isn’t really about that.
I was at the high school I’m associated with on Tuesday and saw that there were two hip-looking tall Black guys in the gym working with about 10 little boys….One of the Black guys, about 25, was going through training with the kids, helping them block and react to a block, shoot, etc. I enjoyed watching because basketball is my game.
The other guy, a little older, was looking at his cell phone. I introduced myself to the trainer, then watched the kids for a while. Then I saw the other guy was leaning against the stage and I stood next to him and we introduced ourselves and he told me a bit about this basketball summer camp he’s started. I’ll call the guy Alonzo. He also told me he’d just been watching his friend Billy Knight’s six minute suicide video on his cell phone (see link above); he’d just heard he’d died. He’d played on some winning team with Billy and Shaq O’Neill’s son, they were all good buddies. He wasn’t in a good mood, that I could tell.
He somehow mentioned how he was from the ‘wrong side of Cleveland’ and how he’d come out here and how much better it was, how thankful he was he had survived a very, very tough childhood. So I said “So how come you’re not lying on the ground dead with a needle hanging out of your arm?” He looked at me and said “My dad sold the stuff in that needle.” well. (leave it to me, right?)
“Do you have any siblings?” “9 brothers and a sister” “Your parents ever married?” “No”…would you have kids unmarried? “No, I wouldn’t.”
Here this guy is….unmarried parents, 10 siblings (most of whom have at least not died from drugs and don’t seem to be in prison..”just average jobs” is how he described it), growing up with a drug-pushing dad….and now he’s in Los Angeles helping little kids learn to do something fun and wholesome.
How’s THAT HAPPEN when so many choose the wrong way in their lives?
“Are you a Christian?” “No, I don’t believe in religions….but I believe in the Lord and know it’s Him who got me here.” Oh, okay!
I hugged this guy, told him he gives me hope……..You just never know about young peoples’ choices, except sometimes you see, like when he told me his first basketball coach in high school was my school’s Head of Athletics now. And I know Kevin and I know what good he does with young men to this day. I asked Alonzo if he’d considered writing a book about his life because he said “I’ve had quite a lot of amazing stuff, bad and good..” He said he had thought about it and that Kevin’s wife, the teacher who founded our English department 14 years ago, wants him to write a book, too. Ah, I thought, he’s had both of these fine people influence him. That helps!
Help a kid you think might need it. Do something to make their life better; to give them hope. Like Alonzo’s doing with these basketball-loving 10 year olds. Instead of having died with a needle sticking out of his arm in the bad side of Cleveland.