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Gain valuable insight on various topics.

Chapter 5: Life Advice for Athletes

Gain valuable insight on various topics.

Social Networking Etiquette #Think!

“If there’s a lot of questionable stuff that they’re posting, we’ll stop recruiting the kid . . . We have had that happen two or three times, where we’ve read a kid’s Facebook page and we’ve wanted no part of it. These are kids that we were actively recruiting.”

— Will Brown

      University of Albany coach

 

Prior to the social networking era it was difficult to share your experiences with the world. Then in the early to mid 2000’s technologies like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, smart phones/tablets, and faster Internet speeds all converged to change how people interact with each other. Now everyone from famous athletes and world leaders to mom, dad, and grandma alike, all use these social technologies to share status updates, photos, and videos with anyone who is interested. Social networking tools provide a glimpse into the lifestyles of rich, famous, and the broke and infamous alike. These tools are also very efficient at spreading good and not-so-good news.

 In 2012 Cardale Jones, then a freshman quarterback at Ohio State, tweeted a controversial statement (see graphic on left). Jones received tremendous backlash and was suspended one game. However, in 2015 Jones posted a tweet that said, “#TBT still can’t believe I tweeted something as stupid as this but hey, we live and we learn, after your religion/.” While this tweet demonstrates that Jones had matured during his two and half years at Ohio State, he will still have to live with the consequences for the remainder of his life. His biography on his Wikipeida page even mentions the controversial tweet.

 

Along with athletes, sports organizations, corporations, and politicians have also all had their share of social media mishaps. In  2012, the Kansas City Chiefs responded directly to a disappointed fan saying, “Would help if you get your facts straight. Your choice to be a fan. Cc get a clue.” That same year fast-food giant, Mc Donald’s asked its followers to use the hashtag #McDStories when posting. Instead of positive stories the hash tag mainly generated posts that were used to ridicule the company, its food, and principals. On two occasions (2011 and 2013), Anthony Weiner, then a member of the United States House of Representatives, was involved in a Twitter scandal collectively dubbed “Weinergate.” Weiner, who was known on Twitter by the alias “Carlos Danger,” was caught sending sexually charged photos and messages to several women. In the first incident Weiner was forced to resign his seat in Congress. On the second occasion in 2013, Weiner announced his return to run as a mayoral candidate for New York City. However, as details of a second scandal emerged, Weiner was unable to recover from the fallout of two Twitter scandals.

 So before you send a tweet or post an update think about the consequences of your statement, image, or video. Think; will this embarrass me, my mother, my father, my school or my teammates? While you may be able to delete a post, controversial statements and images will live on for the rest of your life and beyond in screen shots and Google search results. And these results will not only be seen by friends and family but also by potential employers. Social media blunders have cost individuals their careers and killed multi-million dollar endorsements. In the digital era everything is public so think before you post!

“. . . Oden said he took the photos over a year-and-a-half ago and they were only meant to be seen by a woman he was dating. He doesn’t know how or why they had surfaced online, on several blogs, Tuesday. Oden said now, more than anything, he’s extremely embarrassed for himself and for his family.”

— KGW.com NBC Portland

      October 30, 2013

Why Taking Nude Photos and Videos Are Not a Good Idea

 

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In 2011, nude photos of then Portland Trailblazer center Greg Oden emerged on the Internet. Several years later, they can still be viewed on a number of sports and gossip websites and presumably, have been viewed by millions of people. Oden later said the photos were “very embarrassing” and he apologized to the organization and the Portland community. Oden joined a long list of celebrities who have had nude photos appear on the Internet including rock stars Neal Schon (guitarist from Journey) and Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), mixed martial arts artist Tito Ortiz, former NBA star Ron Artest, former LSU Heisman trophy finalist Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, singer Chris Brown, and politician Anthony Weiner.

 

 These photos were most likely shared privately with an acquaintance. Whether in a committed relationship or caught in an act of momentary indiscretion, sharing nude photos or video with anyone is not a smart decision. Sharing a nude photo puts you in a potentially embarrassing and financially compromising position. You never know a person’s true intentions. There are a number of people who seek relationships with celebrities or public figures for a various reasons. Sometimes it’s for money other times it’s for the elation and notoriety that comes with being around a celebrity. And when you send them nude photos you are giving them a chip to hang over your should as well as an easy pay day (if you are a celebrity). If at any point there is an ugly breakup, nude photos are the perfect remedy for a vindictive or money-hungry ex.

 On the flip side, if you are thinking about getting even with an ex by posting nude photos you should think twice. In November of 2014, Noe Iniquez became the first person to be convicted under California’s new “revenge porn” law. The law makes it illegal to post nude photographs of an ex-spouse. After his breakup, Iniquez posted topless images of his ex-girlfriend on her employer’s Facebook page along with messages calling her a “slut” and a “drunk.” Iniquez was sentenced to one year in prison.

   In June of 2015 NFL free agent Jermaine Cunningham plead guilty (in New Jersey) to a variety of charges including invasion of privacy. According to officials in Union County, Cunningham posted revealing photos of his estranged girlfriend without her consent.

    New Jersey has the oldest “revenge porn” law in the country. Currently more than a dozen states have similar laws on the books.

When Caught In An Compromising Position Admit You’re Wrong And Keep It Moving!

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.”

— Will Rogers

In 2013 Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was on the top of the college football world. He had won just about every defensive award there was including the Lott Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award, and the Walter Camp Award. He was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, an award given for the most outstanding player in college football player. This was a significant accomplishment because few defensive players are considered for the Heisman. His team had also played in the BCS national championship, a game which they lost to Alabama 42-12. Te’o was expected to be a lock for a 1st round pick in the NFL draft.

 

 For Te’o this was a special season. He was not only gathering awards left and right, he was also playing for his grandmother who had passed away early in the season as well as for his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who had been in a serious car accident and then, was diagnosed with leukemia. Lennay later died a few days after his grandmother. Te’o reportedly heard the news just before his team played Michigan State. Inspired and focused, Te’o racked up 12 tackles and helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset victory over the Spartans. During the game the announcers often mentioned the devestating loss of his grandmother and girlfriend. After the game Te’o appeared on ESPN’s College Game Day to discuss how he and Kekua met and about the letters she had written to him during her time in the hospital. It was a tragic story that captured the nation’s attention.

 

 The only problem was that the majority of the story was not true. While the part about his grandmother’s passing was true, none of the others were. As the story played out it unraveled like a reality show soap opera, wrestle-mania circus all combined in to one. The girl, Kekua, never died. In fact she never even existed. The whole story was made up. The worst part was that Te’o continued the story even after he found out that he had been duped. According to reports, Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend had been made up by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Futher, it was later revealed that Te’o and “Kekua” only interacted online and on the phone.

 It was a horribly embarrassing situation for Te’o and the University of Notre Dame. Te’o was mocked by late night hosts Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Falon. There was even a skit performed on Saturday Night Live. For weeks he was the main topic of conversation on every major news channel.

 

 Once Te’o found out he had been duped he should have admitted so. While it may have been a tough thing to do, it was a better alternative than to continue with the story and hope it fades away. By prolonging the account Te’o became a passive co-conspirator in the hoax. And once the story came to light, people began to question not only his judgment, but also his character. In the book Rethinking Reputation: How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World, Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorly, state that when you are faced with or caught in a compromising position (scandal) you must always control the agenda and that “people will often forgive even a major misstep if the apology is swift, complete, and unqualified.”

 

 Had Te’o been sincere and truthful from the time he found out it wasn’t true, his judgment still would have been questioned but he wouldn’t have had to endure the same level of scrutiny, ridicule, and media circus that followed. He also would have been drafted significantly higher than the 38th pick of the second round.

 

Make it point to learn how to speak standard American English. Every so often millions of people cringe when they hear their favorite athlete speak after a big game. In many cases, their lack of communication skills may even cost them additional endorsement dollars.

 

Learn How to Speak

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“Do it with a flare, but also maintain a certain kind of composure and carry yourself in an articulate, creative, and original way.”

— Roy Firestone

   7-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster

 

Make it point to learn how to speak standard American English. Every so often millions of people cringe when they hear their favorite athlete speak after a big game. In many cases, their lack of communication skills may even cost them additional endorsement dollars.

    While you don’t have to become a Shakespearean philosopher, good verbal and communication skills are a necessity in public life as well as in the workforce. When you lack the proper speaking skills people make assumptions about your intelligence, your education, family, etc. Recognize the difference between your audiences. The way you speak in front of your friends may be different from the manner in which you speak publicly or in front of your parents or teachers. Many professionals code switch, meaning. they speak colloquially —informal language, use of slang etc.—around their friends and use American Standard English in public. Some even use a mixture of both. Former ESPN sportscaster (and now deceased) Stuart Scott was a master at this. During his nightly broadcast he regularly meshed together slang and standard American English effortlessly all without anyone questioning his ability to speak properly. His style is now emulated by several sportscasters. Now before you attempt to emulate the late great Stuart Scott, learn how to speak English first. His mastery of language took several years. I’m assuming he read voraciously and studied sportscasters that came before him, to name a few. Know what’s appropriate for a certain situation, e.g., know when to  say “Nah, I’m good,” and “No, thank you.”

Learn How to Write

“Writing is the primary basis upon which your work, your learning, and your intellect will be judged—in college, in the workplace, and in the community.”

— University of Marquette

      Writing Across the Curriculum

 

 

Knowing how to write is a liberating skill that allows you to express your thoughts. Writing can be used for practical purposes like sending emails, writing poetry, or doing school work. It can also be utilized for commercial purposes as well. Former NBA player Etan Thomas has authored several books and has written various articles on politics, sports, and parenting for national media outlets such as the Huffington Post.

 

The ability to communicate in written form is an essential part of any profession. In today’s society we encounter several formal and informal writing settings. We send text messages, emails, write classroom assignments, and projects at work and each have their own rules. For example, sending a text message style (no capitalization) email to a colleague is not appropriate and may cause them to perceive you as being ignorant of the rules of writing. In today’s professional landscape one must know the appropriate writing rules for a given setting. In general there are three kinds of writers; a Casual Writer, a Common Writer, and a Professional Writer—See chart.

 

 While most people fit into the Casual Writer category, anyone with aspirations of finding and maintaining a profession must advance to at least a Common Writer. They must have a good grasp of the general rules of writing and should resist the desire to apply the limited to non-existent rules of casual writing to formal writing settings.

Read, Read, Read

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“Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.”

— Oprah Winfrey

Reading is like lifting weights for your brain. It exposes you to a variety of words, topics, and life situations. With more knowledge, you become smarter and thus have more information to help you make better decisions. You can read about different cultures and travel to unusual worlds without having had a physical experience. Reading also improves your vocabulary and writing skills. When I was in school I did not like to read. It wasn’t until my 28th birthday that I decided to read more. I initially set a goal of reading one book a month. Since I was interested in sports I started with a book about Nike called Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World by Donald Katz. I enjoyed the book so much I finished it in a week. Over time I began to read books on history, war, economics, business, biographies, politics, the classics, and more. My appetite for books eventually inspired me to read more than 50 books a year.

 

Reading books has helped me become well-rounded and knowledgeable about different topics. Through reading, I’ve fought with Genghis Khan in 14th century Mongolia, chased down Darius with Alexander the Great, learned about the founding of Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft, marched with the Freedom Fighters during the Civil Rights Movement, and watched in horror as the Hutu’s slaughtered 700,000 Tutsi’s in Rwanda. My love of reading affords me the ability to engage in conversation with a diverse group of people and helps me make better, more informed decisions.

 

Smile: Why Frowning is Bad for You

“Everyone looks so much better when they smile.”

— Jimmy Fallon

 

When I was younger, people often told me I frowned a lot. Even though I wasn’t mad I would frown. I finally realized that I frowned out of habit. It was my game face.

 When I was growing up, whether playing sports or riding the bus—a.k.a RTD!— smiling was looked upon as a weakness. As a young man, I was simply accustomed to frowning.

 However, once I became a professional a frown worked to my disadvantage.  A frown, especially for a former male athlete, can make people uncomfortable and make you look mean and intimidating. This is a good look in athletics but in the professional world it will work to against you. Be aware that your ‘game face’ may, at times, work to your disadvantage, so smile. You won’t hurt anyone and it won’t be looked upon as a weakness.

 

Work Hard, Develop Good Habits, and be of Value

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“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”

— Will Smith

 

Most successful professional athletes have an incredible work ethic. Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman James Harrison is known to workout at 4:30 in the morning. An elite shooter in basketball will shoot a minimum of 300 shots per day. If you want to be a good athlete and increase your skills, working hard is a standard requirement.

 

 In life, the same principles apply. If you want to master a certain profession or task, you have to develop a routine, work hard, and establish yourself as a person who has value to a person or organization. Hard work itself, doesn’t guarantee success. Working hard at the wrong thing will make you very good at something that has no value. To make yourself standout from the crowd work hard at something that has value. Develop a routine that will increase your probability of being successful.

 

 Very few people are born “smarter” than everyone else.  In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

 

Fame

“. . . . to forget your vision and purpose once you have fine cloths, fast horses, and beautiful women. . . . you will surely lose everything.”

— Ghenghis Khan (1162 - 1227)

      Mongolian warrior who created one of the

      largest empires in  history

 

Fame is as addicting as an alcoholic drink or a narcotic. It has destroyed the lives of many people. Some people think that fame will solve all of their problems while others believe it will make them happy. In reality, for most people fame is only temporary. Fame becomes a problem when people start to believe that they are better than other people. Once fame has vanished it’s hard to adapt to the absence of constant adulation. Rapper Vanilla Ice once said, “The most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned in my life is that life is about family and friends, not about material things or any of that. It’s about enjoying your life. If you have no family, no friends to enjoy it with, it don’t matter how much you have, how much success you have, how much fame you have, how much money you have, it doesn’t matter.”

 

 There are few scenarios in ordinary life that can replace 50,000 fans cheering for you or people wanting your autograph. If you happen to become famous, take it for what it is. People like you for a day, a week; a very short period of your life.  Enjoy it for the time-being.

 

Happiness is found in being comfortable with yourself and in interacting with family and friends. A cheering crowd, an autograph seeker, a reporter, should not be what validates or motivates you. To quote Oprah Winfrey, “If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are.”

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Beauty Affects You More Than You Know!

“ A beautiful woman’s face is like chocolate, cash or cocaine to a young man’s brain ...”

— Harvard Researchers

 

 

In 2010, two Australian researchers found that when men see an attractive women, the levels of testosterone, the principal male sex hormone, are significantly higher. The study was performed on 96 skateboarders ages 18 to 35. They discovered that when in front of male judges the men performed routine tricks. However, in front of an attractive female judge the tricks became significantly more dangerous. They also found that this “effect has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years: Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind.”

 Beautiful women have a chemical affect on your brain.  Beauty means different things to different people. Some prefer large physical attributes on a women, while for others these don’t matter. However, beauty is only part of the equation when it comes to attraction and selecting a mate. A woman with long-term value is beautiful to you (not your friends). She is fun to be around and can be trusted. If you live your life only looking at beauty (physical attributes) you will find yourself in frustrating, unhappy, and unfulfilling relationships. While beauty is an important part of attraction, it is only one part. Trust, character, and personality are equally important. While it may be impossible to have it all, you must consider other crucial factors in selecting a mate.

The Dark Side Of Wealth

“I love you all, and you mean the world to me, but all this money stuff is stressing me out. Can we just have a great relationship?”

— Dallas Cowboy’s Tyrone Smith conversation

     with a family

Instant wealth can come from sports and entertainment contracts, initial public offerings (for companies), and lottery systems. One day a student-athlete is struggling, then, on draft day, he’s an instant millionaire. Lottery winners have similar experiences. If you purchase and win the Powerball the next day you’re a millionaire. For company founders like Mark Zuckerburg from Facebook the stakes a lot higher. After his company went public, his share of the company was worth $19.1 billion.

 

There are tremendous benefits that come with financial freedom. However, having tremendous wealth can tax you psychologically, destroy friendships, and family relationships. A contributor to this predicament has been labeled Sudden Wealth Syndrome (SWS). This condition was coined by psychologist Stephen Goldbart and describes the states that people encounter when presented with instant wealth. It includes extreme stress, guilt, social isolation, and confusion. If you are fortunate enough or believe that you will one day receive a windfall of money, make sure you study people that have come before you and learn from their mistakes. Money has tremendous benefits but it can also tear apart families, ruin marriages and friendships, as well as lead to psychological, social, and physical problems.

 

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Tattoos and Your Appearance

“A Tattoo Is Forever—Except When You Don’t Want It”

—Headline from the Wall Street Journal

    June 3, 2015

 

If you look at any high school year book prior to 1960 you will notice that all of the male teachers wore a suit and tie and the females wore a formal dress. Since that time society’s standards for dress and appearance have relaxed. Prior to this period, mostly all professions required a suit and tie or uniform. Shirts had to be tucked in your pants. Tattoos were generally worn by Navy sailors, bikers, and prison inmates. Earrings were for women. Beards and long hair were only for the “hippies.” The social change that came in the 1960’s and 1970’s had a significant impact on people’s appearance. Over time things became less formal to the point where jeans and a t-shirt are not uncommon workplace apparel. In fact, dress and appearance are now defined by the industry you work in. In creative industries like graphic/web design, music, film, and the like, there is very little expectation when it comes to dress or appearance. Jeans, t-shirts, colored hair, and tattoos are all welcome. In fact, the only professionals that still wear suits are politicians, newscasters, and bankers.

 

 So while the rules have changed about dress and appearance in America, people still make judgments about how you look before you open your mouth or get to know you. The only people who can dress freely or look any way they want are individuals who have a lot of money or people who are extremely talented. Chris Andersen, standout player in the NBA, also known as “Birdman,” has tatoos on every part of his body, except his face. He has also made over $15 million during the course of his career and should never have to work for anyone for the rest of his life. If you have a tattoo on your face or neck you better be the best at what you do or be independently wealthy.

 

 According to a Wall Street Journal article titled, “A Tattoo Is Forever—Except When You Don’t Want It,” tattoo removal is now a booming business with laser treatments costing about $350 per session and up. Depending on certain factors (skin color, ink), removing a tattoo can take up to 10 sessions.

 

Why The World Doesn’t Need 7 Feet Gangsters

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“When you have God-given talent, I think that [it] kind of hinders your practice habits and that’s what I think it did to me.”

— Tracy McGrady

 

 

When I was growing up there was a guy in my neighborhood that was 7-foot-2. He was mildly coordinated, not good enough to be a superstar, but just good enough to gain the attention of college basketball scouts. His gift of height, long arms and massive presence could cause lots problems for offensive players. By the time he was a senior his problem wasn’t which college he would attend. His main problem was that he wanted to be a gangster. Every day he dawned his white t-shirt, Dickies, and Nike Cortez (the official Los Angeles gangster uniform of the 80’s). Unfortunately, he never played a game and was eventually shot and paralyzed because he wanted to hang with gangsters.

 

 In 2000, then Los Angeles Clippers center, 7-foot-2 Keith Closs found himself in the middle of a beat down in a club parking lot in Hollywood. It was a humiliating scene that found its way onto YouTube and became a viral video sensation. Ultimately, a notorious Los Angeles street gang was rumored to be involved. Mr Closs’ actions and associations put him in the company of individuals who chose a lifestyle completely different from his own.

 

 The 7 Foot Gangster Rule states that if you are over seven feet tall no one really expects you to be a gangster or tough guy in anyway, thus you are prohibited from all criminal activity. Height is a gift that you cannot teach and should be used productively. Just because you are tall doesn’t mean you have to play basketball but it does mean that, if you have an inkling of coordination, you will get a free college education (as a student-athlete).

 

The Curious Case of Clifford Allen

“When you have God-given talent, I think that [it] kind of hinders your practice habits and that’s what I think it did to me.”

— Tracy McGrady

In 1985 I remember walking home from Del Amo Park. The ‘park’ as we called it was where I spent most of days shooting jump shots, taking people to the hole, and of course dunking on people. Every day I would take the ‘back way’ home which was a trek up a small hill, then up a slim sloped path leading to larger alley-like walkway overlooking the neighborhood sewage drain. For most people this was a scary walk. It was the place where gangsters, wannabes, weed heads, and hustlers hung out. The smell of marijuana was constant and dice games and drug deals were frequent. For many people, walking this way resulted in a “pocket-check” and general harassment. Because of my athletic prowess and relationships (with the likes of Big Lou, Butch, ELow, Big Kal, Big Mick, and Hatch), I was one of the few who could make this walk unscathed.  Most elected to go home the front way and avoid the harassment.

 One day, as I started my journey home, I noticed an unusually tall figure hanging with the usual crew. As I got closer I realized it was Clifford Allen in blue khakis (Dickies), a golf hat, and a black and blue Pendleton shirt (another home uniform for gangsters of the 80’s). Allen, at the time was one of the top high school basketball players in the United States. At 6-foot-10, 230-pounds he was an imposing force that could shoot, dribble, and rebound. He was as agile as a shooting guard and could dominate a game any time he wanted. I personally witnessed him shatter a backboard with a thundering dunk in the Slam N’ Jam summer league at Dominguez High School in Compton, CA. In a perfect world I would be telling you that Clifford Allen played 17 years in the NBA, won two championships, was an eight time All Star, and now has a business empire that rivals Magic Johnson and Junior Bridgeman. While this was all a likely possibility, unfortunately for Mr. Allen, none of it became reality. Throughout Allen’s young life, he had several run-ins with the law, spending months at a time in several California Youth Authority (CYA) camps. In 1987, after serving a sentence in CYA for robbery, he was offered a scholarship to play for the legendary Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV. His time at UNLV was short-lived because “he would not go to class.” From there he bounced around from different junior colleges in Texas and California. Ultimately, Allen was such a headache for coaches that his junior college career never panned out.

 In 1990, at the age of 21, Allen was charged with the murder of Conrad A. Owens, a 64-year-old guidance counselor for the Santa Rosa County School District in Florida. Allen eventually plead no-contest to second-degree murder, a charge that warranted at least a 15 year prison sentence. To date, no one has heard from Allen and by all assumptions, he is still in prison in Florida.

 Clifford Allen squandered God-given talents and physical abilities that could have provided a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of his life. Instead he chose the fast life that got progressively worse, ultimately landing him in the chilly confines of a prison cell in Florida.

Tupacification and Thug Life

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Tupacification -  Creating adverse life circumstances by making intentional decisions to go backwards in life, even in the mist of social and financial advantages that other people don’t have.

In 1996 rapper Tupac Shakur was shot in a drive-by shooting near the Las Vegas strip. It was the final act in life that was full of promise. Tupac began his career as backup dancer, and MC for the hip hop group Digital Underground. He was an enormously talented young man who, throughout his early life, studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet and often performed in plays like a Raisin in the Son and The Nutcracker as well as various Shakespearean acts. Tupac was well-read and could discuss a variety of historical figures such as Sun Tzu and Niccolò Machiavelli to authors like Donald Goines and Nikki Giovanni. He starred in numerous films, his most popular being Above the Rim, Poetic Justice, and my personal favorite, Juice. His role as the psychotic gangster, Bishop was realistic and perfectly executed.

 At some point in his life, after having studied dance, poetry, theater, traveled across the world, and starring in numerous films, Tupac had decided to associate with individuals who were connected to the streets and who had a first class ticket to the cemetery or a jail cell. This was a decision that led to a steady decline in his quality of life and ultimately his death. Over a short period of time Tupac was shot, sued for wrongful death, charged with sexual assault, and involved in numerous physical rifts with industry colleagues. Jarvaris Crittenton and Aaron Hernandez, professional athletes both convicted of murder, are recent examples of individuals who had a bright futures and numerous opportunities but elected to mix with shady characters from the street. They are now suffering the lifelong consequences of their actions.

 Tupac was an enormously talented young man who was seduced by the pleasures and perceived powers of the street. His decision to associate himself with elements of the street caused him to leave this earth too soon. Living by the rules of the street only results in going to jail or death. If you happen to survive a prison sentence you will experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome—often undiagnosed— because of the experiences you had on the streets.

 Move forward in life, not backwards. Build on the progress and sacrifices of the generations that came before you.

 

 

Don’t Let Your Most Productive Days Occur in Your Teens

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“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

 

My father, Charles Hollaway, was one of the best high school all around athletes to have ever participated in sports in the city of Detroit. He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track at Detroit’s Northern High School and was all city and all state in every sport. He ran track and played football in 1951 at Fullerton Junior College where a few of his records stand to this day. He eventually went on to star in football, track, and rugby at the University of California, Los Angeles as well as play a year of professional football in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampede. My father often talks about his experience of playing in the 1956 Rose Bowl as well as being a part of UCLA’s first NCAA track championship.  After his athletic career he went on to a successful career as a teacher, coach, and health professor.

 Well after high school his peers still acknowledged him as ‘star athlete’ Charles Hollaway. Those in his professional career knew him as Coach Hollaway or Mr. Hollaway and knew nothing of his high school and college athletic accomplishments. While he was proud of his past accomplishments he never relied on them for attention or approval, nor did he let them define who he was in his professional career.

 

 Don’t let the most interesting and productive time of your life be as a high school or college athlete. You are endowed with talent and potential that stretches far beyond a court or a field. Only you can limit your growth as person and as a professional.

 

 

Don’t Be A Liar: Be Proud of Who You Are!

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

— Abraham Lincoln

 

One day at the gym I was working on the leg press machine. Next to me was a lanky, athletic-looking young man using the hamstring machine. I struck up a conversation with him. During the course of conversation, he told me he was junior and was playing on the junior varsity (JV) basketball team at Westchester, one of the top high school basketball programs in Los Angeles. Considering he was playing  JV as a junior my questions shifted from athletics to academics. As most people know, if you are playing on junior varsity as a junior in high school the likelihood that you will play in college is slim to none. When I asked him what college he wanted to attend he said the University of North Carolina (UNC). I assumed that he was interested in a particular academic program like engineering or architecture. I asked him why he wanted to go to UNC and he said, “for basketball.” I told him that every year UNC picks from the top All Americans. It has a rich basketball history with several conference and national championships. Why would they recruit a player playing JV as a junior? He responded by looking at me like I needed counseling and had no idea what I was talking about.

 Ironically, I’ve had this type of conversation throughout the years with both young and old men alike. Often delusional or intentionally lying, these colorful characters have a need to impress other people through lying and deception. They believe that people will think less of them if they don’t present an extraordinary side of themselves. However, just because you don’t make it to the “league” doesn’t mean your friends or family will like you any less. Your true friends will be with you for life. Being comfortable with who you are is liberating because you will no longer need to come up with new lies as well as remember old ones.

 Just for fun I’d like to recount the liars I have encountered at my gym:

 

Remember the Life Lessons in Sports

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“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”

Former UCLA coach John Wooden

 

My ninth grade year I played basketball for an AAU team named the Victoria Park All Stars in Carson, CA.  We had a solid team with most of the players going on to successful high school and college athletic careers in either basketball or football.

 One game we played in a regional elimination tournament for the right to go the Las Vegas Invitational, a nationally recognized AUU  tournament. We advanced to the semi-final game where we played an all star team from Orange County that featured a 6’10” ninth grader named Mark Georgeson and two other players (whose names I don’t recall) who were over 6’8”. They also had solid guards. Our tallest player on our team was 6’7.” By half time of the game we were down by 30 points. However, during the course of the game we never stopped playing and by the end of the third quarter we had cut the lead to just 12 points. As the clock ticked away during the fourth quarter we continued to chip away at the lead. In the last thirty seconds of the game I hit a shot to bring us within two points. They took possession of the ball and as their point guard dribbled from side-to-side, I stole the ball and made a layup to tie the game with 20 seconds on the clock. They brought the ball down and missed a shot with twelve seconds left. We advanced the ball to half court and called time out. Coach McCall, who was a legendary football coach (in Carson, Compton, and Long Beach) during those days, called the inbounds play for me. I would start in the middle of the key and go through two picks to get a shot just at the three point line (free throw line extended). With nine seconds on the clock I got the ball off the pick turned and shot the ball. I missed. The ball bounced high into the air. I sprinted to get the rebound and leaped as high as I could, grabbed the ball, and dunked it just before the buzzer. We won the game by two points. I finished the game with 34 points, 9 assists, and 3 steals. We advanced to the championship game but our luck ran out against a superior team. However, I had played so well  during the tournament the team that defeated us asked me to be a part of the All Star team that would go to Las Vegas. The team featured the best players in Los Angeles including  Chris Mills (Fairfax high school, Arizona, NBA), Doug Meekins (Crenshaw high school, University of Washington), James Moses (Serra high school, University of Iowa), and Zan Mason (Westchester high school, UCLA/Loyola) and other future college basketball and football players.

 

 As I reflect on the experience as an adult I realized that the game was much more than an athletic accomplishment. It was an experience that I could use in all aspects of my life. In the game we were outmatched and were behind by thirty points. In order to win the game, we had to work together as a team and most importantly, we could not give up on our goal of winning.

 

 As you journey through your athletic career you are learning valuable lessons that you can apply to your life. Some of these include:

 

  • Value of hard work  - whether you are working on your physical conditioning or studying a math lesson, hard work can be applied to all aspects of your life.
  • Never give up - even when things are bad, having a fire in your belly to keep moving is essential for accomplishing anything in life.
  • Discipline - in life and in athletics you have to have discipline on and off the field or court.
  • Sacrifice - when you play a sport you sacrifice other parts of your life e.g. your social life. However, the time that you spend on something will pay off. For high school athletes it may be a scholarship, for college athletes it may be a college degree.
  • Time management - whether in high school or college, playing a sport teaches you how to manage your time. You must be able to complete your school work at a satisfactory level before you can compete in athletics. You will use this skill for the rest of your life.

 

 

Why Showing Off Material Things Is Not A Good Idea

“The robberies of the NBA players also were comparatively brutal. Possibly because of the players’ physical size, those who rob them generally commit their crimes in groups and appear to engage in more planning.”

Fox News 2010

In November of 2007 Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died from a gunshot wound during a midnight robbery. The perpetrator had broken into his home during the middle of the night and shot Taylor in his femoral artery, the largest artery in the leg. It is responsible for supplying the lower limbs with blood. Not surprisingly, the bullet caused a significant amount of blood loss. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Within weeks the police had apprehended five suspects.

 

During the trial one of the suspects said they had entered Taylor’s house looking to steal cash. They believed that Taylor would be playing in an away game in Tampa Bay against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, Taylor, who had injured his knee, had not traveled with the team. It was also discovered that one of the suspects, who ultimately was sentenced to 57 years in prison, had attended a party at Taylor’s house where he watched Taylor give his half sister a purse containing $10,000 in cash. The suspects believed that they could steal between $100,000 and $200,000. Taylor was known to have large sums of cash laying around his house.

 

The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the death of Sean Taylor demonstrate that it’s best to be discreet about your wealth and possessions.

 

It is also advised that you not broadcast that you have large amounts of cash lying around your house or on your person. Statistics show that athletes are more likely to be robbed by a group of men that have planned.

 Although the consequences weren’t deadly, there have been numerous incidents where athletes have been robbed. From 2005 to 2008 there were five known cases where NBA players were robbed.

 People known to have money—and who make sure everyone knows it—make themselves easy targets for criminals who are looking for fast money.

  In life, be confident in yourself and your abilities. Don’t let a chain, a car, and large displays of cash define who you are. It can not only be bad for your wallet but  can possibly cost you your life.  It’s also a good idea to know who your friends are. Do you know what they do for a living? Do they have the same goals as you? If not, then you need to get some friends whose goals are aligned with yours. Don’t let your friends bring you down. You should be the shinning light and bring them up!

Why Fighting Is Not A Good Idea

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“Livonia Police say 44-year-old John Bieniewicz, of Westland died after taking a swift punch to the head by thirty-six-year-old Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad in Mies Park Sunday. Bieniewicz had just ejected Saad from the game when the Dearborn resident lost his cool.”

July 2014 WXYZ Detroit article on a punch that killed a soccer referee in a recreational game.

 

In the August of 1986, two weeks before my high school football season, I was walking with some friends in the Carson Mall. It was close to closing time and we decided to roll pennies down the long walkways. One of the pennies had rolled about 50 yards and hit a young man in the foot who was walking with another group of guys. He wasn’t happy about it. At the time, I wasn’t aware of his displeasure and when he walked up to me I could not understand what he was saying. And then, out of nowhere, he punched me in the eye. I paused for a moment, and although I wanted to hit him back, I figured that the mall security would intervene. Since I kind of had an idea that the guys were from my neighborhood, I sprinted home which was about three minutes away. It’s funny but the word had spread and 15 minutes later, as I stood in my garage seething with rage, I heard the horn of a Chevy El Camino. It was Big Kelvin and Todd, both six years my senior, coming to pick me up. Apparently they knew where the guys were. So we proceeded to the backside of Del Amo Park. We jumped out of the car and caught the guys in the alleyway leading out of the park. As I saw them walking out of the park I zeroed in on the guy who had hit me. I immediately punched him in the jaw. I believe he was knocked out with that punch but I was in such a rage I landed several more punches and kicks. At some point I put him in a headlock and with my last punch, I hit him on the top of his head. The fight was over. I felt a pop in my hand. As we left the scene my hand began to throb more and more. The next day I found out I had broke a bone in my hand. From August to late November I had to wear a cast that extended from my two middle fingers to the top of my elbow. I would miss my junior season of football. The bones connected to my middle fingers didn’t mend properly and I still bear that scar, a lump in my right hand, to this day.

 I realized years later that had I not broke my hand, I would not have stopped hitting that young man lest someone stopped me. And the way I was going he could have been killed. God was with me that night and knew that breaking my hand was the only thing that was going to stop me from hitting him.

 As a young boy I had several fights and at the time never gave a second thought to the consequences of fighting. But fighting as a kid and as a young adult are two different things. As a young adult, you possess the ability to kill someone with a punch or kick. In fact my good friend Zack Roberts was killed when he was punched in the jaw and fell back and hit his head on a concrete parking  stop.

 If you ever find yourself in a situation where you may have to fight remember that you could be killed or you could kill someone.

 

 

What is Manhood?

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“You can’t measure manhood with a tape line around his biceps.”

Billy Sunday

Since the creation of television and the Internet, the visual image of manhood has taken many forms. From a cowboy sitting on a horse blazing his .38 caliber guns to a rapper relaxing in a Jacuzzi with multiple women, the image of manhood has been distorted and twisted into self-destructive and unrealistic proportions. When you combine this with a 30% to 70% fatherless population, pop culture, music videos, and general fantasy entertainment, it has an enormous affect on how young men and women perceive manhood. In many cases manhood is determined by outward appearances like a person’s attire, jewelry, car, and size of their muscles.

 

 However, manhood cannot be purchased or created with a gym membership. It takes very little effort to dress nice, purchase jewelry, and drive a nice car. In general manhood is perceived differently at various periods of history and situations. For example, the great World War II General George Patton once said, “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” General Patton’s description of manhood pertains to men in battle. Mike Tyson, on the other hand describes manhood as it relates to competition in the boxing ring, “When I fight someone, I want to break his will. I want to take his manhood. I want to rip out his heart and show it to him.”

 

These descriptions of manhood are relevant to their specific professions. Both men were great at what they do. As far as manhood and how it relates to young men living in general society in the 21st century, I am referring to how men should interact in general society. Manhood in a world absent of competitive sports or war, at its basic level, is determined by internal factors and not outward appearance or the presence and possession of male sexual reproductive organs. A mature man takes responsibility for his actions, is not afraid to admit when he’s wrong, and is comfortable with who he is. He doesn’t rely on emotional stimulus like outward appearance or material possessions.

 

You Are Probably Going To Fail At Something In Life . . . And It’s Okay

“Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.”

Jim Valvano

    Former North Carolina State basketball coach

 

The majority of successful people have failed at something. When you see their success, you only have a very small view of  what it took to become successful. You will never see the countless hours of preparation it took to get to that point or the numerous failures they experienced. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, went broke five times before finally creating a successful business. Walt Disney was told he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, created 1,000 unsuccessful light bulbs before his first successful bulb. Oprah Winfrey was fired from a television show because she was considered “unfit for TV.” Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, creator of the children’s book “Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. To date his books have sold over 600 million copies. The developers of the mobile game “Angry Birds” made 51 other unsuccessful games before they hit success.

      Failure and rejection are part of the journey to success. Learn from your mistakes and be confident that they are stepping stones to success. With each failure or mistake become smarter and know that success is around the corner if you hang in there.

 

Prepare And Be Confident In Whatever You Do

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“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”

— Dan Gable

    Former wrestler and head coach

 

 

Most of my early life was spent around sports. I was a pretty good student but nowhere near what I could have been had I had a different mindset toward academics. The majority of the time I only did the minimally required work to stay eligible for sports. When my athletic career was over I decided to go back school and get my first masters degree. I enrolled at California State University at Dominguez Hills, in the computer-based education program. In one of the first classes I took, Introduction to Computers in Education, we had to complete a 10 page writen assignment; a mock grant that would be judged according to specific criteria. A week before it was due, the professor requested that we bring in our assignment so that our peers, the fellow students in the class, could give us feedback. I had spent countless hours at the library conducting research.

 

 On the day we would evaluate each others papers, we broke into groups and passed our papers around to each group. My group looked at three papers. We discussed and evaluated each proposal. After each discussion we wrote our suggestions on what we liked and disliked about the proposal. While we were evaluating papers we heard a group next to us laughing and joking about the suggestions that were in a  proposal. They were loud and obnoxious. I heard things like “that’s crazy,” and “why would you do that?” About 45 minutes later we all received our assignments back with the written feedback. When I looked at the feedback on my assignment I realized that the obnoxious group was laughing at my proposal. I looked at some of the comments and suggestions and I thought to myself that these people were the ones who were “crazy.” I knew that I had worked hard on that assignment and was confident that the proposal was solid and sound in principle. I decided to not make any of the suggested changes.

 

 A week later we submitted our assignments and two weeks after that, we would know our grade. The day we were supposed to find out our grade, we first had to endure an hour and thirty minute lecture. The professor would tell us our grades “at the end of class,” which couldn’t come soon enough! After the professor had finished his lecture he started calling students forward to get their assignments. I waited and waited but didn’t hear my name called. At this point I was worried. Maybe those people were right? Maybe I should have listened to them? Then he paused and said, “Now I’d like to recognize five people who not only got an A on the paper, but if this were a real proposal, they would have been awarded the grant.” And then he said, “David Hollaway, come on up.”

 

 Outside of sports, that was perhaps one of the biggest moments in my life because it taught me that if you work hard, prepare, and have a game plan, no one can get in your way. It also helped me understand that in life, as in sports, you must also prepare and work hard for something you want.

 

Drug Addiction

“I never had a sip of alcohol, never tried tobacco… I wasn’t a normal high school guy. I was focused on what I wanted to do, play baseball.”

— Josh  Hamilton

     LA Times Article “The fall and rise of Josh

     Hamilton”

 

In 2005 Major League Baseball (MBL) star Josh Hamilton had whithered down to 180-pounds from 230-pounds. Hamilton was seriously addicted to alcohol and crack and had squandered a $4 million bonus. He tried to pawn his wife’s wedding ring and had spent $100,000 on crack in one month. “Emotionally, spiritually, physically, I felt hopeless. Using drugs behind my grandma’s back and being confronted by her, that was my lowest point,” Hamilton said in a 2013 Los Angeles Times article. In 2013, he rebuilt his life and baseball career and overcame his drug addiction and signed a $125 million deal with the Anaheim Angels. However, in 2015 Hamilton suffered a relapsed that involved cocaine use and was placed in MLB’s treatment program.

 

 Several other several other high-profile athletes in all sports have been challenged by drug addiction. MLB’s Darryl Strawberry, a four-time World Series champion, struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse. Soccer star Diego Madrona had a 20 year cocaine addiction that led to three suspensions and numerous failed drug tests. Tennis star Andre Agassi admitted to doing crystal meth during his career. Steve Howe, a seventeen year MLB star who struggled with drug use, died in a car crash in 2006. It was later revealed that he had methamphetamines in his system.

 

 While I could include several more famous athletes, perhaps one of the most tragic and high profile stories was that of Len Bias. Bias was an All-American basketball player from the University of Maryland. He led the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in scoring and was named ACC player of the year as a junior. During his senior year he was once again was named ACC player of the year as well as to several All-American teams. Bias’ play had attracted the attention of NBA scouts. Boston Celtics scout Ed Badger said, “He’s maybe the closest thing to (Chicago guard) Michael Jordan to come out in a long time. I’m not saying he’s as good as Michael Jordan, but he’s an explosive and exciting kind of player like that.” On June 17, 1986 the Boston Celtics selected Len Bias as the second overall pick in the NBA draft. On June 18th he had discussions with Reebok about a $1.6 million endorsement contract. On the 19th Bias got together to celebrate with some friends. Hours later he was dead. He had died of a cardiac arrhythmia related to the use of cocaine.

 

 Sadly, eight days later Cleveland Browns safety Don Rogers, the 18th pick of the 1984 NFL draft and Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, also died of a heart attack caused by a cocaine overdose. It was the day before his wedding.

 

 Drug addiction can destroy your finances, your career, and  family relationships. Furthermore, the horrid experiences of being a drug addict as well as the temptation to use again, can remain for a lifetime.

 

 

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