Great families make great people. Great people make great families. Love Out Loud.
My love for sports is documented. What I get to share from it are the people who helped shape me, my love for the games we play and played, and how far life takes us with the love that we share in it. In my younger days, I knew early on that sports would play a big part of my life, I just did not know how or where. I did know that it called to me, and along the way, people fed it so that it could grow.
We all have those people who left an imprint on us. I use this vehicle as a way to say thank you to some folks who did more than they knew, a lot with a little, and helped carve a place in who I became later in life. I had an older cousin who lived in East Orange, New Jersey. My aunt would bring him down with his two sisters, and he and I figured out that we both loved sports. He loved it in a way that made me love it more.
We would go to the playground and have at it. The universe is funny, I do not recall ever playing him when anyone else was ever at the court, and these courts were ALWAYS busy. This was a good thing, as he would take me to basketball class. Even at a young age, I knew that I wanted to know more of the game, but my cousin was worldly, even then. His game was different than mine. It was COOLER. It was my introduction to a thing that did not have a name yet. In the early 70’s, he would hit me with this thing that I thought was illegal, but deadly. THE CROSSOVER. He would spin and call out THE PEARL! He would tell me about Earl Monroe and Clyde Frazier, (no, he did not call him Walt, he was CLYDE) and he would mimic the Wilt Reed free throw jumper. I had no idea that this was a thing, you could shoot the same shot as a free throw and get two points instead of one. My cousin would call out Cazzie Russell, and then he would blow my mind with this one-handed move he had learned while in Jersey. It was this swooping underhanded to overhanded dip of a thing. He said it was the move of this young cat that played in New Jersey for the Nets. Apparently, there was this place in New York called RUCKER PARK, and this young cat changed the game by the way he played it. HE WAS COOLER than everyone else. Some cat named JULIUS ERVING. They called him the DOCTOR because of the way he operated on the court. MIND BLOWN. Tell me more….
He was the great reporter. He would warn me about the NY Mets being good enough to beat the powerful Baltimore Orioles. (They did). He boasted that the lowly New York Jets would beat the unbeatable Baltimore Colts. (They did). He forecasted the power of the Yankees when they signed Reggie Jackson, and he introduced me to the world of WOR, home of New York sports.
One summer, I got to spend the week in New Jersey. My goodness, I learned so much. The world was faster there, it was bigger there, and the people were louder there. I was introduced to this game called PASS OUT, where kids would press against another kid’s stomach until they would drop. I also got to play baseball at their rec league, and I remember being thankful that he would drag me along and let me play with his team. They were bigger, stronger, and more experienced. I learned to put the ball in play and use my speed. I also learned about big league baseball in an up and close way. It mattered more THERE it seemed.
His mother was always a big voice with lots of advice. She loved loud, proud, and constantly. His little sister always seemed tougher than all the boys in our family. Its like she knew something we didn’t. And his older sister may have been the wisest of all. I always knew that I would be smarter every time I was around her. She constantly added to. Maybe it was a family thing. My cousin seemed to do that too. He does not say much these days, but I hear him loudly on a regular basis. I can absolutely say that my love for sports would not be what it is without you.
Thank you, cuz.
I appreciate you more than you know.