Danny was a basketball prodigy. He was tall, athletic, and had a natural passion for the game. He played on school and community teams where he honed his skills and outplayed his opponents. Danny knew he was good and saw basketball as his ticket through school and perhaps life. When it came to his classes, he did only what he needed to pass.
Like many elite players, Danny garnered a mixture of respect and jealousy from other boys. Some resented his arrogance and occasional disregard for the rules they chose to follow. I recall one time, the first day of a week-long basketball camp. The coach told the eighth graders, of which Danny was one, to go to one court and the high school freshman to go to another. Danny went to the court with the freshmen. Some of the eighth graders grumbled, saying that it wasn’t fair and that he should stay with them. Some were tempted to join him, but no one did.
I admire this aspect of Danny. He put himself where he felt he belonged. Ultimately, none of his coaches or classmates raised a fuss. Perhaps, despite their jealousy, the other eighth graders knew he did the right thing. He had the courage, or at least the brashness, to break the rules and take what he felt he deserved. In the game of life, you’ve gotta’ have balls if you want to play with the big boys.