A Letter to My Son About Basketball

Well, hello there! I know I have not been around much lately. All is well, but my brain is typically mush when I can manage any time to write these days. I’ll be back, I promise.

In the meantime, while I was cleaning out my email drafts, I discovered this letter to my son from last year, part of a project from sixth grade (don’t ask!). Having recently gone through this blog, I realize how many little moments of life and parenthood pass by so quickly, so I wanted to include this in my archives.

Dear Andrew,

One of my great joys in life is watching you play basketball. For as long as I can remember, you’ve been a passionate student of the game. Whether it was practicing free throws or one-on-one games with your much taller brothers in the driveway or leading your team to victory, it’s hard for me to think of you without an orange bouncing ball in your hands.

I have been through lots of sports with you and your brothers. Between the three of you, we tried them all: soccer, baseball, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, skiing, karate…but none of those things ever brought me as much joy as seeing you on the basketball court. Do you know why?

It’s because you are a dedicated and joyous player, a true student of the game. Most kids love to win and hate to lose, but you REALLY hate to lose. We learned this early on during Candyland. I love that you care so much. That caring has inspired you to not just practice and play, but really study and analyze the game. Your basketball knowledge astounds and impresses me. I still remember hearing you and your friend in the back seat of my car discussing the last night’s game with analysis and insight well beyond your years. When I suggested that maybe you would like to be a sports broadcaster when you grow up, you said, “Well, maybe once I’m done my NBA career.”

When you were younger, you checked out the Michael Jordan story Salt In His Shoes more times than I could count. I think the librarian cut you off eventually! You loved reading about Michael putting salt in his shoes and night and praying to be taller so he could play better, but Michael’s father gave him better advice: Practice, determination and giving your best make you a real winner.

We also loved to watch basketball documentaries together, my favorite being Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals. Their intense rivalry turned to respect and true friendship over the years. We also watched the Jeremy Lin story, Linsanity, and I loved how you saw that sometimes even the most worthy, most talented players do not get the breaks they deserve, but they keep showing up and trying their best. Life — and sports — can be incredibly unfair sometimes, and all we can control is our own work ethic and integrity. No matter what happens, no one can take that away from us.

Andrew, you’ve had some memorable, heart-stopping games over the years — too many to list — and you always know how proud we are to cheer for you. But the games where I am the proudest are the ones where you make an effort to pass to the weaker players on your team, the guys who haven’t made a basket all year. You pass and yell something encouraging when you could have easily made the shot yourself, and then you hope that some other kid will have his big moment in this game you love so much. When I see that, I feel like I’ve won as a parent.

Keep being kind, keep being generous, keeping working hard, and keep having fun. Good things will happen.


Mom, Your Biggest Fan