My father was a high school basketball coach. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time playing the game. So, when he was invited to work at a basketball camp when I was about 10 years old, I went with him.
There were kids from all over the bi-city area participating in the weeklong event. I even had a few of my close friends there.
We spent Monday learning the fundamentals of the game, and I remember that afternoon, the organizers formed teams, and we actually got a chance to play a couple of games. The same thing happened on Tuesday-fundamentals in the morning and games in the afternoon.
On Wednesday night, the camp held its All-Star game. All the kids participated. I was one of the better players in my age group. However, I did not have a very good All-Star game. I played okay but I did not score a single basket.
One of my best friends, “John,” did have a very good game. If I recall he scored a couple of baskets, and he did what we called back in the day a “skip dribble.” That got the whole crowd excited. As a result, “John” was voted the most valuable player of the game.
When it was time to go home that night, I got in the car with my parents. I sat in the back seat, and I cried. My father asked me what was wrong. I told him I did not have a good game, and I did not get the trophy. I cried some more. He didn't say much to me after that.
The next day when dad got ready to go to the camp I stayed home. I was too upset. Besides, my eyes were swollen from all of the crying I had done the night before. However, that evening when my father came home, he came to my room and sat on the bed and talked to me.
“So you had a bad game last night. A lot of the greats have bad games. You have got to be mentally tougher. You cannot quit just because you did not play well. Now, I let you stay home today but you are going back tomorrow.”
That was all I needed. The very next day I went back to the camp. They formed us in new teams. We were going to have a tournament. The team that I was on beat John and his team. We also beat another one of my good friends who was the best player in our age group, and we went on to win the tournament championship.
I will never forget the lesson that my father taught me that day. He gave me some time to get myself together, and then he told me about the importance of playing hard no matter what, do the best you can, and never giving up.
I believe what happened to me at that camp is indicative of who I am today. Yes, I did want to quit but I did not. I had to persevere. Things are not always going to go my way, and I may not always be the best at what I do but one thing I will never do is quit.