Since professional and top amateur athletes tend to get a reputation for selfishness and/or being uneducated, it excites me when I read about a superstar who exemplifies the qualities of a kind, smart and well-round individual.
Most athletes aren’t “dumb jocks” – many simply don’t apply themselves in the real world. They receive more praise/perks/money than the common man thus often choosing to solely concentrate on the actions in their particular sport.
Consequently, far too many go through life with a mind or heart that is seldom used to its potential. In addition, the snowballs of temptation are constant and these men are often not prepared to deal with that precarious avalanche.
I write from experience as I played Divisional 1 Basketball for four years, getting to know some teammates and opposing players quite well during my collegiate days. I met men who had the world as their oyster yet failed to fulfil their dreams due to overconfidence, lack of applying their skills outside of basketball and most importantly, not utilizing the college scholarship as a stepping stone to even higher success.
Since a tiny percentage (3 of 10,000) of high school players will be drafted by a professional NBA team and only 3.1% of these athletes will play college basketball at a NCAA member institution (www.ncaa.org), a majority of them need to use the advantages of a free university education to secure a future life in the business world. Sadly, many don’t even graduate from college.
Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is a person any mother would be proud to call their son. His basketball prowess aside, here is what the sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote in a recent column:
This is the kind of man Chris Paul is: He was president of his high school class all three years. When Lebron James’ girlfriend had a baby, James made sure Paul was there. He's so humble that if you didn't know who he was, you'd swear he was the pool man.
More from Reilly about Paul’s remarkable display of love:
This kid floors me. Not just with the way he can dominate an NBA playoff game at 6 feet tall in elevator sneakers. Not just for the way he can twist Kobe Bryant into a Crazy Straw. Not just for the way he'd rather pass through a doughnut hole than take the shot himself.
No, what floors me about Chris Paul is his humanity. If strangers had bound my weak-hearted grandfather, beat him for no reason and killed him for the cash in his wallet -- strangers who to this day have not shown a thimbleful of contrition -- I'd want them in prison 100 years after they were in the dirt.
Is there a love purer than what Paul has shown? In every article I have read on similar tragedies, there has never been a person who has displayed so much compassion and humanity for those who killed the person nearest and dearest to them.
Paul’s act should inspire everyone to be kinder, gentler and more loving to those close to us, those not so close to us, those we may not like and those random souls that pass in and out of our lives.
It has inspired me.
Stevie Wonder sang it beautifully in his timely 1977 song, “Love’s in need of Love Today” – I wrote an article about it in 2010. The link and a few lyrics are below:
Hate’s going round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before its gone too far
The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
We all must take
If love and peace
Then you’ll hear me when I say
Love’s in need of love today
We may never reach the heights of love like a Nelson Mandela or a Chris Paul although I don’t think there are many of us who cannot improve upon the love in our hearts and minds, particularly when it comes to helping the less fortunate in our global world.
The next time you get angry or upset over some minor issue, think of Chris Paul and the love that he displayed after thugs killed his beloved grandfather.
What I have learned from Paul is that there are very few experiences in life that cannot be enhanced with love – even if only in small doses.
Dr. King said it best when talking about greatness, love and one’s soul:
Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
--Martin Luther King
Happy Gswede Sunday!
An interesting 5 minutes of HAIL in southern Sweden - May 2011