Father Figure


I have known Jim for a few years, but when I asked him about a memorable teacher, I realized that I didn’t know his story. I am grateful that he shared about his middle school teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Carson, the man who taught him much more than academics and athletics.

My father stopped being part of my life when I was two. My mom did her best to provide the love and support of two parents, but there were days when I really longed for a dad. By the time I got to middle school, I was struggling. I was not doing well academically, and I felt lost. One afternoon, I was shooting hoops with my friend while waiting for my mom to pick me up. Mr. Carson, my civics teacher, stopped and asked me about trying out for the basketball team. I wasn’t sure that my mom could afford the fees or get me to games. Mr. Carson assured me that he could help with that.

Between class and basketball, I spent several hours a week with Mr. Carson. I loved that he called me “Stretch” (I was six feet tall at twelve). I love that he challenged me and encouraged me to set goals. Mostly, I loved that he thought I was worth his time and attention. He talked to me about things my mom didn’t understand. From Mr. Carson’s talks and his example, I learned about responsibility, hard work and doing the right thing. He taught me to be a good teammate and to be respectful. He taught me how to be a humble winner, and more importantly, a classy loser. He taught me too many life lessons to list.

Mr. Carson continued to be an important part of my life through high school and college. My education was possible because of a basketball scholarship. I credit Mr. Carson for that opportunity. Now that I am a father, I pass his lessons along to my kids. I also coach youth basketball, and I mentor young men. I aspire to live up to Mr. Carson’s legacy.

Jim’s story made me reflect on the opportunity we have to fill an empty space in a child’s life. The gifts of time and attention communicate value. When a teacher invests in a student, that student works hard to justify the investment. When did a teacher invest in you? Please share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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