The Rum and Cokes were flowing; Vince Vaughn movies were illegally downloading, just another Tuesday night in my mom’s living room. Soon it would be time to saunter over to our favorite bar. Of course by favorite I mean not only could we walk to it, it was replete with loose townie women.
I don’t think either of us was entirely happy with where we were in our lives.
I was a senior in college, on my way to becoming a super-senior and he was a seven-foot one-inch professional basketball player. 2011, what a year – wait, I’m getting ahead of myself; if Peanut Butter Pie is going to tell you a story, he needs to give some context first.
Bare with me, I’ll try to get to the meat and potatoes as fast as I can, but you need to understand this is a story never told before; a story I never really planned on telling.
Well, life is funny I guess.
Now before I start this story, it needs to be noted that I hate pity more then just about anything: more than I hate Tom Brady, more than I hate Red Sox fans, more than Ham and tuna fish. I have led a blessed life, and I could easily title this something along the lines of #WhitePeopleProblems or #MillenialsOnEasyStreet. People face adversity and they deal with it.
This is no different; it just so happens that I write about hoops and life, and the adversity I faced centers around basketball, family and loss. Well, before the story ended it was about loss, now that its over its actually about new beginnings, finding love again and getting reacquainted with what you’re passionate about — maybe someday Zac Effron will star in the motion picture.
This story doesn’t start with a first kiss; a first drink; the first time I threw up in my mom’s bathtub over thanksgiving break because I had too many mojitos; or the first time I realized sex and youporn aren’t synonymous. While those moments were awesome (or in some cases, horrifyingly disturbing), they are not germane to this story.
This story starts in fifth grade, at Harvard Basketball Camp, with my first bucket; an offensive rebound-turned put back. Like a first kiss, it was clumsy, awkward and I had no Idea what I was doing, but it felt like Colbie Caillat was serenading me while I rode a Minotaur over a rainbow.
Eighth grade was a big year for me, as a basketball player and as a dude. Firstly, I went to Hooters on the class trip to Washington, DC, which instilled in me among other things a love of wings. All men at one point or another ask themselves “am I straight?” That question was answered by the time Desir’e the waitress brought us our second serving of ranch dressing.
More importantly, I played basketball for my middle school team, and for a team in Bedford, Mass. I played well enough to make two different all-star teams in two different cities. I was 13 and nearly six-feet tall; of course, at the time I didn’t realize this was going to be my peak as a player.
I had a pretty basic childhood; lunchables, Nickelodeon, Internet porn, the WWF, AIM (remember ASL, how many of us talked to 45 year old men pretending to be 13 year old girls? I SHUTTER TO THINK). Basketball was the thing I loved most; what I was passionate about. I’d spend hours working with my dad, running drills on the hoop in the driveway at my grandfather and his Bedford home.
This passion was passed on from father to son: at six foot six, my dad had been a star athlete at Bedford High School and went on to play Division I hoops in college. At 40 he was still throwing it down in games. As a kid, I considered basketball somewhat of a birthright; I imagine Colin Hanks felt the same about acting. I’d think to myself, “of course I just got that board, or scored that basket; my dad is diagramming plays and dunking in practice and yours is having heart palpitations watching the younger moms”.
Fast forward two years: Tryout week. I’m only a sophomore but I go to a small charter school, so I’m pretty confident I’ll make varsity. I get home Tuesday night and in a moment of pure cosmic significance, have what turns out to be the last conversation I will ever have with my father. We talk over the phone about basketball, about tryouts, how the team looks, what I expect the season will be like. In the words of Baz Luhrmann, “the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”
The next day my dad was hit by a car, he died a month and a half later in 2004, when I was 15. (more…)