I am hoping my wife doesn’t leave me just by reading the title of this blog. But the truth is, as a young kid and through college, I was Grayson Allen.
No, I didn’t have that silly of a vertical jump. No, I didn’t attend a private school, nor have the academic preparation to attend and succeed at Duke University. And no I was never a McDonald’s All-American. Heck, I wouldn’t even be considered a Bojangles All-American.
I was however emotionally unfit to compete at a younger age. I played mostly baseball and basketball growing up and dabbled in soccer for a few years. We could get deep in the weeds that I was the “baby” of my family and stunted emotionally, but I won’t focus too much on that. I will leave that for my ex-girlfriends.
If we lost..I cried.
If I beaned a batter while pitching…I cried.
If I overthrew home plate from centerfield…I cried.
If I played goalie for the first time and gave up 10 goals in that debut..I cried.
In retrospect, I wish that coach would have pulled me after 6 goals, but maybe he was teaching me some sort of lesson or figured I would stop crying at some point. I never did and definitely got the “Aaron, I am really disappointed in how you acted out there” speech from my father. I deserved that.
I could never pull it together. I was lucky to be a solid athlete and you would be hard-pressed to see someone work as hard as me, but I could never manage my emotions.
Foul me on the playground? You’re getting a basketball thrown at you. (Sorry Chris Baker).
Pull my shorts down in 8th grade basketball tryouts during the 3-man weave drill? I punch you in the jaw (Sorry Eddie Seames). Note: I made the team. Eddie didn’t. I couldn’t resist.
Playing baseball in the front yard and you try to steal even though there is a “no steal” rule? I rifle the baseball at you and drill you. (Sorry Jason Matthews). End game.
Oh hey, I am running out a hit and your foot is on half of the bag while receiving the ball as the 1st baseman? I drive my spikes through your ankle. (Sorry Dustin Pettit). Safe!
You’re beating me down the floor on a fast break and I literally look up at the ref then shove you in the back so you fall? (Sorry person I don’t know your name or really even recall what school you played for? North Branch?)
I may have been a total jerk, but I was honest. One time playing shortstop, I was covering as someone was trying to steal 2nd. He slides into my glove, dust flies, I drop the ball momentarily, and the ump calls him “Out!.” I actually asked the ump to reverse the call and he obliged and NEWSFLASH: I cried.
These days I usually just cry during horse movies or that Portuguese marriage proposal scene during Love Actually. Stop laughing! You try not to cry during that part you soulless monster!!!
So what changed for me? I think a big factor was tearing my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in college. That forced me to observe sports and I hated every second of it (not to mention tearing your ACL really hurts. That was a legit cry). It ended up being a positive experience however. I focused more on having a career. Once that career led me to academia and in many instances working with college athletes (including Duke basketball players), it mentally put me in a healthier place and my life in its proper perspective. I still love to compete, but it is more subtle and I don’t allow my world to be turned upside down if things don’t go my way. These days I get to hear phrases like, “Do things ever rattle you?/How are you so calm?/I would be off the rails if that happened to me.” Those are are among the highest compliments I can receive.
Watching sports still gets me riled up and I love to win and root for a winner, but I do focus more on character over wins and losses. Effort/Sportsmanship/Integrity/Candor/Ethics
Those are the real things that matter. That, and seeing the Detroit Lions win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, but I digress.
Part of my solution was to step away from competition (both by choice and torn ACL) and that may not be Grayson’s choice. This whole basketball thing may be his career. Maybe he grew up in a house without consequences (Dwight Schrute). We don’t know his story. My Otisville Little League baseball games shockingly were not broadcast on ESPN and we didn’t have social media. By no means am I defending his actions. I yelled at the TV as loudly as anyone last night. It was another garbage move. I just can’t make the leap to say he is a garbage human being. Outside of sitting 1 table away from him at Dos Perros at dinner one night, I haven’t any idea what he is about.
He has to figure this stuff out for himself and find his path to development. We all do when we have weaknesses.