He shared that he didn’t allow the effects of his own absentee father to negatively affect him. So when he became a father to his own son, he poured all he had into him. Feeling a bit selfish and compassionate for the rest of the fatherless boys in his son’s circle of friends, he began coaching a baseball team. He used the techniques of a pitcher as a metaphor for life. Upon entry to the team, he provided careful instructions for the boys on throwing the baseball through the hole of a tire several feet away. He asked, “Do you see how large that hole is? Chances are you will throw the ball through it with every try. You may hit the sides a few times, but as long as you continue to aim for the target, you’ll eventually get it through every time. Just KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE TARGET!”
I was struck by the overwhelming passion in his voice and eyes as he spoke. It was apparent that even though he claimed to not be affected by his childhood, he was clearly living his life based on what HE lacked. Despite his circumstances, he graduated from college and spent time as a semi-pro baseball player. He was having his car serviced for a road trip visit to surprise his own son, a junior in college.
Interestingly enough, his coaching the baseball team was NOT to encourage the boys to seek a career in professional sports. It was simply a way to connect with them on their level. Engaging them in something they loved to do opened up the lines of communication, and allowed him to teach and encourage academic excellence, life-long learning, and overall moral and personal success.
This brings to mind Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy. They continue to graduate entire classes of African-American male students! Even more commendable, 100% of them are accepted into college! What a huge statement to make for all of those who come after them. The high standards have been clearly set for future students to emulate.
I refuse to believe our black males are a lost generation. With more men like the baseball mentor and schools like Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy, we are certainly headed in the right direction. Are you willing to help another young person on the path to success?
Our focus is Positive Messages for Women and Girls. But I have a personally vested interest in the lives of our African-American men. I am married to an amazing one, they will be our leaders of tomorrow, and possibly my son-in-law!