Seems like every post I make nowadays is about shoes, and as much I hope you liked the last one, this post is so vital to where I’m at in this very moment of my life. About 14 years ago I remember my dad telling me a story about his childhood, and to understand this story you would need to know that my father lived in the hood before DJ Khaled made it popular. He grew up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in project housing, and have you ever heard those “my mom worked 3 jobs and my dad wasn’t around” stories on SportsCenter? Well that was my dad’s life. I never got to meet my dad’s father, because he died in 1975…when my dad was 16 years old. What’s crazy is, when you're younger, you really don’t even understand what that truly means other than it’s sad and you just feel bad for your father.
I love my dad, although I don’t like to admit our similarities (people think I look like him), we were both very small during high school. I had the good fortune to grow a little bit quicker, but he ended up being around 6’3”. Personally, if given the option I would’ve chose the latter. Nevertheless, I’ll never forget when he told me this story as we were driving on 376-West back home to Oakdale. We were either coming back from some high school or Pitt basketball game, but we were on the subject of what I was going to do in the off-season to get ready for my senior year of football. My dad made the comment about wishing he had a father like himself, a father that would’ve been able to provide him with guidance when he was younger. My father loved sports as a kid, and although his favorite sport was baseball…he loved football. He went on to tell me about when he was a freshman at Central Catholic and showed up for the first day of football practice he was so excited that he was finally going to be able to play! Sadly, it was that same day my dad’s football career would end, but ironically change the course of our family for generations to come.
See my dad showed up that day without football cleats because his mom couldn’t afford to buy them, let alone any of the gear some of the other kids had. He felt so out of place, awkward, and embarrassed that he never went back. I’ll be honest it’s hard to hold the tears back as I write this. I like to imagine, though, that if my dad went home to a father who encouraged him or even said, “We’ll get some football cleats this weekend,” he might have kept playing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Sad to say, but my dad has lived with that moment for over 40 years and it was recently brought up in a conversation we had earlier this week. I mentioned in my last post that had some big news, and I’m in a position where I want to share it with all of you. 6 weeks ago I started a program at Grand Canyon University (online school) to get my Master’s Degree in Special Education. I have also taken a sales job with ADT Security that is more flexible and I believe will be more accommodating as I achieve to finish school in June 2018. Whew! That felt good!
I’m doing this because I have a vision for what I want my life to be like. Mr. Parks the teacher, and Coach Parks, the…well coach I guess. But the reason I shared his story is because of the all the support that my friends and family have shown me, but especially my dad. He hit baseballs to me on Saturdays when I was 6 years old, he took me to hockey practice at 5 AM on Sundays when I was 10. He drove to my basketball practices in high school, watched behind the door, and then passed the ball to me in his work clothes so I could get an extra 100-200 shots. And when he didn’t think he could throw me the football well enough, he bought a Jugs machine (it shoots footballs out similar to a baseball pitch machine) and helped me train. And before you think he was just vicariously living through me, he never made me do any of that. He simply just said, “Whatever you want, I’ll do it!”
Selfishly, looking back, I’m glad my dad didn’t have football cleats that day and I think he is too! Instead of being upset and bitter, he used that to become the best father that he could. Now my daughter, Ava, is reaping those same blessings as I try to live up to the father he was to me. And I know that one day (maybe when she’s 36 because she can’t date until 32) Ava will be an amazing mother, and so forth and so on. I can guarantee you that when my dad was 14 and didn’t show up for that second day of practice he had no idea how his family’s life would be altered. Friends, God is good, and God is in control. I look forward to sharing more with you about my journey as it progresses! But remember, we might not realize it when it happens but He knows what is best for us, our family, and most importantly His Kingdom.