Thursday night we witnessed young men take another step on their basketball journey, one which propelled them into the spotlight they’ve dreamed about since they first picked up a Spalding. Future millionaires, with visions of NBA greatness and promises fulfilled.
For LaVar Ball, it’s part one of a journey that began 20 years ago, and it’s a journey that all fathers desire; to see their children reap the rewards of their hard work and earn an experience like NBA Draft Night.
For all of the real fathers out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The first moment you hold your child in your arms, the emotions swell, images are conjured and the plans begin. How do we get our child to the place they deserve to be in? What will their interests be and how will we help them achieve their goals.
On Thursday night, the first installment of LaVar’s three-part dream became a reality through Commissioner Adam Silver.
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Decked out in “BBB” attire, complete with ties, bow ties and hats, the father and son team which seemed to dominate TV screens, radio broadcasts and social media over the last six months, took the next step in a journey which began the second Lonzo was placed in LaVar’s arms.
We should appreciate both that moment and LaVar for what it represented. The moment Lonzo donned the Lakers hat and hugged Commissioner Silver was the moment that fathers all over the world should have nodded their heads in acknowledgement and respect for LaVar, for he did what we all aspire to do: help and watch our children achieve their dreams.
All children deserve a moment like the one Lonzo had, and it doesn’t have to be sports related. It could be a moving up ceremony, an awards night or a graduation. Regardless of the stage, every child deserves to be acknowledged in a special way, and LaVar ensured that that would happen for his son.
His methods are unorthodox yet obviously effective. He crafted, supported and dictated the direction of his son’s destiny by controlling everything around him, while still letting Lonzo be Lonzo both on and off the court. You can call him loud, boastful, disrespectful or childish. You can label him a clown or utterly ridiculous. He’ll devour it and recycle it into another success for him and his family.
LaVar Ball already got the Sho’Time BBB kicks out there. #NBAdraft2017 (h/t @JasmineLWatkins)
I choose to see him as a father. A real father.
We always seem to highlight the issue of absent fathers of color as opposed to celebrating those who are doing what they’re supposed to. Yet here we have a manifestation of what we desire to witness and instead of emphasizing what he accomplished, we ridicule him for the manner in which he did it.
Mind you, it wasn’t illegal or immoral. It was simply becoming a dominating personality who challenged and defeated the traditional systems sometimes designed to limit or control, especially as it relates to young athletes of color.
Is he over the top? Yes. Have his performances become monotonous regardless of the media’s desire to exploit them? Definitely. Is he drop dead wrong for many of the things he’s said? Absolutely.
LaVar Ball really said Zeus and Jesus said Lonzo is going to be a Laker. #NBADraft https://t.co/2Nw0xxeyTH
But that’s who he is and that’s what you get when you seek him out.
He assumed the position as media lightning rod to shelter his son while he pursued success, a role not all are able to take on. But he was comfortable and strong enough to both create and carry the burden for his son all the way to the Barclays and now back to the Staples Center, and he controlled the process the entire way.
In the lives of children of color, too many times the bar is lowered and the expectations are skewed based upon environments and statistics. And while the struggles exist, our children can exceed expectations and accomplish great things when given the opportunity, inspiration and parenting, the latter of which doesn’t have to derive from blood either.
We have a responsibility as parents and adults to support, guide, give back and provide an example for both our children and children in general. We have to demonstrate to them that the canvas of their lives can be illustrated with any image they wish and we can provide the paint and brushes to help the process.
(Photo credit: Bleacher Report)
LaVar provided his son with the canvas and tools necessary to reach the NBA and he was there every step of the way, being the father he was supposed to be. Who cares if his tactics were different. The method to his madness paid off, and not because his BBB brand continues to grow or because his son is a Laker, but because he was a father to his child and helped him fulfill his dream.
So next time he’s on TV and you start rolling your eyes at his mentions of Zeus and Jesus, pause, remember the true definition of “Fatherhood” and give the man his respect due.