Trailblazers Mon, Oct 16, 2017
I always thought my dad was the reason that I fell in love with basketball at a young age, learned to throw a football and swing a golf club by the time I was 8, and why I willingly chose SportsCenter over cartoons by the time I was 10. But after my grandma passed away Friday morning, I did a lot of thinking and reflecting this weekend on the things she meant to our family and everything I got from her.
While my dad played an incredibly influential role and was certainly an amazing vessel for all the sports knowledge and abilities I have, I realized it was really my grandma who gave those gifts to me through my dad.
In high school, she was a member of the first ever female basketball team at her high school in Kansas. These were the days when women wore skirts as part of the uniform and not all players were even allowed to cross half court, but she was an incredible trailblazer of the sport and a huge part of the reason why I was able to play basketball - in shorts and a jersey and across half court - starting in elementary school.
She graduated from Kansas and her Jayhawk pride ran deep - up until the end, she was still engaging in verbal trash talk with me every year that Kentucky and Kansas played (and when we beat Kansas to win the national championship in 2012, you can bet that I never stopped rubbing it in). Having spent her adult life in LA, she was a big Lakers fan and never hesitated to remind me of the championships the Lakers stole from my Kings (which effectively ruined my childhood). And, never one to miss a good game, the last time I got to see her two Sundays ago, she was watching the morning Raiders game - true to form.
There are so many things that I appreciate her for, but the ways that she both directly and indirectly influenced my love of sports and the ways that she quite literally trailblazed a path for me to fall in love with basketball is something I'll never be able to thank her enough for. Take time this week to identify and acknowledge and appreciate those in your life who are directly responsible for making you who you are.