Examples of using basketball to better a kid’s life

Posted: September 15, 2012 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

By Keith Townsend

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago basketball is huge.  It’s a big deal at every grammar school and high school no matter if the basketball programs are any good or not.  My grammar school had a big tradition of putting out some talented teams.  There weren’t many years where we didn’t compete.  My family actually had a history of playing for the team.  All of my mom’s brothers played for the same coach.

I and all 4 of my brothers pretty much made the team on reputation.  It was expected that we’d be on the team whether we were good or not.  My older brother was decent and my younger brothers actually lived up to the billing.  I was never really any good in comparison.  I was athletic but basketball just wasn’t my passion.  Not like my youngest too brothers.  Both went on to play basketball in both high school and college, with the youngest going to a Final Four.

Both of them used the skill to take them to places I’d never been.  The older of the two went to California where he basically grew up.  Big Al was a beast on and off the court.  I wish I could have went and seen him play in college.  We did get a chance to play together in my church’s league.  I hyped him up to all of my team mates before the start of the season and he didn’t disappoint.  He was definitely one of the best players in the 7 or 8 team league.

Al’s college career took him all the way to California.  This was the equivalent to going to Europe and slumming it as you find yourself.  He used the time to grow and understand who he is as a person.  He came back to Chicago like any other young adult who goes off to a foreign area does.  He had some additional growing to do but the results are pretty evident.  He’s a great family man raising his 3 daughters along with his wife in the burbs of Chicago.

My youngest brother had the greatest passion for the game.  Todd is by far the most talented athlete in our family.  He was able to leverage an opportunity to live with a great family in the affluent part of the Chicago land area to get exposure to big time Division I basketball programs.  He was eventually recruited to go play for Marquette where he started all 33 games the year they went to the Final Four.  I’m happy to say I was there for a good majority of those games.  He’s now an assistant coach for Northern Illinois where he’s watching after my two sons.

The point is that both of my brothers used their talents to improve their situations.  There’s nothing wrong with basketball being a big part of our culture.  We just can’t be consumed with it as a “way out.”  I didn’t have the talent for it to better my own situation.  I’ve always been a geek and computer science has served me well as long as I’ve put the time into my passion.  I’m proud of both my younger brothers.  They weren’t afraid to follow their hearts and take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

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