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He started having this problem while playing basketball in eighth grade. I wasn't aware of it but I guess his coach was. He mentioned to me he couldn't find anyone to speak at the end of the season Basketball Sports Banquet. I mentioned that one of my clients was a former player at Duke University and had started the BlockBuster Video Franchises. He owned a new fertilizer company and I could ask him. Coach Donovan was open to the idea and asked me to ask my client to come and speak. My client was delighted and was even more delighted that he could choose his own topic. He came and spoke at the banquet of spaghetti and garlic bread. It was paid for out of the coach's pocket so we had it in the gym. A simple dinner. I really loved this team, they seemed to be good kids who just wanted to play ball. Sometimes I'd solicit McDonalds to give me twenty cheeseburgers and take them to the kids as they got on the bus for road games. They got out of school late and played the games early so they didn't have time to go home to eat.
My client talked about his career. He spoke about the importance of choices and how he had fallen into drinking alcohol and had become an alcoholic due to his own poor choices. This was news to me as I only knew him as a successful business man. I wasn't sure how the coach would perceive my choice of a speaker as he continued to talk. He told his story and ended it with, if you happen to make the same mistakes I did, which is why I'm telling my story to you, and hope you don't, you will hit rock bottom. He said, "I want you to look around at every teammate on this team sitting at the table with you here today. You will need help someday. You will call out to your teammates and they will not be there for you. None of you will be around to help each other. There is only one place you can go that is a sure way to get help. It is Jesus Christ." In their immature minds, they just thought that was ridiculous as they laughed nervously.
I was shocked to hear his story. I had judged him by his cover of success and never knew he was an alcoholic. The truth was he had to hit rock bottom to achieve his success. Being the paranoid diversity trainer that I was, I wondered if he had offended any Jewish or Muslim kids on the team. The irony was, my husband, the coach and myself were the only parents there. We notice this as officials. The older the kids get, the less parents show up in the stands to watch. It is a sad statement for these kids who continue with their love of the game. The right thing to do is to go to your kids games. If you work, I understand but for God's Sake at least take off work to attend their end of the season sports banquet. When I found out the date of the banquet, I realized I had been scheduled to officiate another game. I gave it back in order to be there for my son at his banquet. After he left, Coach pulled me aside and thanked me. He said, "BJ I don't think there could have been a more perfect speaker for these group of kids. His message spoke volumes." Hindsight is twenty-twenty and I guess he knew my son's teammates tried drugs and alcohol. My son was guilty by association. It was only years later that I realized that they had in fact introduced him to this world of alcohol and marijuana.
Basketball can keep these kids walking the straight and narrow. I believe it depends on the coach. One of my son's teammates from that particular team is behind bars now. I think of him all the time. I wonder how he didn't listen to the message of that speaker that day about choices. He told my son that he was in a car when the cops pulled it over, searched it and found drugs. Guilty by association. Nobody knows the truth except the four young men in that car. What I do know is this. There is only one book that can help him out now and it usually has a pretty simple cover design. Black or gold leather binding with gold foil stamped letters.