Archive for the ‘ Reflection ’ Category

Lansing

Seems I owe you an apology: so I apologize

Or is it, maybe, that I owe you two?

Recent memory might be serving me wrong and…

Really what I owe, is a few

Yeah… actually, come to think of it, that sounds about right

Some of the things I said

Out of anger

Really should not have been said… ever

Really… never, but especially not since it was during a fight

You live and learn from mistakes

I am not exempt from that

All the extra stuff that clouded the messaging

Man, I wish I could take that back…

Stolen Goods

Stole us from our homes

Stole our gold

Stole our babies while crying

Stole our blood, sweat and tears

Created the conflict

Stole the diamonds

Stole our culture

Stole our music

Stole our drums

Stole our voices

Stole our fun

Stole our choices

Stole our smile

Anything we created

Stole our style

Put our skin on trial

Jury of non-peers:

Color’s not worthwhile

See

We thought it was a trial

But it wasn’t really a trial

Stole the natural date of  death

Stole our loved ones

Stole their breath

Of all the things that were stole

You will never steal our soul

Thoughts After The Last Dance

Watching the last 2 episodes (7 & 8) of The Last Dance this evening touched me in a way I didn’t expect.  These episodes partly focused on how intense Michael Jordan was with the methods that he used to motivate others… It made me reflect on certain times in my life where I was similar.  Sometimes people can misunderstand that intensity.  When it comes to getting results, I have a more, “let’s get straight to the point” mentality.

The first memory I was visited with:  I previously was part of the coaching staff at a school in Detroit, MI called Burton International. I coached there for eight years total and coached both, girls & boys that were 7th & 8th graders (4 Division Championships, BTW). I had this one student during that time named, DC that came to me crying once. She said that she needed to talk to me and the first thing that she asked was why I was so hard on her. It seemed to her I was harder on her than anyone else.  The truth is, I didn’t know exactly why I was so hard on her at the time.  All that I knew is that I saw massive potential in her and I was trying to force that potential to the surface.  Luckily at the time, one of the senior coaches, Rev. JW, who always knows what to say, told her that I wouldn’t focus that type of energy on her if I didn’t really care… if I didn’t care about her and her being successful.

This has been a common theme with me that started with my younger brothers when the three of us were younger.  I was especially hard on my brother that is closest in age to me.  We didn’t grow up in the most favorable environment.  In that environment, I lived with a certain fear of not making it.  My fear wasn’t really of me leaving this earth… it was more, if I were to leave here, who would be here to protect my brothers?  So, in my mind, it was my job as the big brother to toughen them up enough where I knew they could protect themselves, each other and that they could also stand strong independently as individuals.  Mental and physical toughness was needed.  I’ve had the same best friend since I was in high school (CA).  If you were to ask him, he’d tell you, that’s the only thing that I worried about at that time.  There are no two people that I have talked about more than my two brothers.  The day that I knew that they would be OK is when we were out in the back having an intense game of basketball and I was being a little rough.  That game ended in my brother closest in age using a fighting move that I taught him and striking me above my right eye in retaliation for my roughness.  I was standing there leaking blood and needed to go to the hospital to get stitches. My brother thought I was going to kill him (figuratively). I’ll admit, I was more than a little angry that he used that move on me, but I was more proud than anything.  That’s when I knew.

I moved away from Detroit in 2005.  I ended up taking a job in Cincinnati, OH.  I actually had no intentions on coaching anymore and certainly didn’t think about mentoring, however, it fell in my lap anyway.  As I got to know people in the area from frequenting basketball courts, people started to ask me to work with high school kids in the area. I was very reluctant to do so since I had spent the previous eight years coaching at Burton International.  During that time, I felt that I needed to focus on me.  That never really happened.  I met a former Xavier University basketball star, BM, that was then studying to be a pastor and he asked me to check out this kid, GW, at a local high school, Roger Bacon.  BM and I went to a game to see this kid play; he then asked me to train, GW.  I initially said no. BM asked me to join him at a Men’s Night at his church and we really got to know each other, dropping the surface level pleasantries.  We had more in common than basketball. After BM heard my story, he stressed the importance of people like me wearing the mantle of a mentor. I told him, I only know how to do it one way… I push and push and push and then I push some more.

I started out Mentoring and training only GW.  Then his teammate, WF, became part of our group.  Shortly after that, a kid from Burton International that I had coached before, BJ, now in high school, called me up and said that Detroit was no longer the place for him and since we were from similar types of neighborhoods, I would be able to understand him, deal with him, and get him on a better path.  During the conversation with BJ’s parents, I was asked what my plan was to get him on the right track if he were to move in with me. I told them that I plan to treat him as he is one of my younger brothers and all that entails.  His parents didn’t necessarily completely understand what that meant, but BJ did.  To me, that’s all that mattered.  BJ knew that I would do everything in my power to make him a better person, whether he liked the method or not.  And just like that I had three teenagers that I accepted responsibility for.

I’ve had talks with all three of my Cincinnati guys as we grew to become a family. I’m sure though, if you were to talk to GW or WF initially, they would have sworn that I was a maniac.  BJ already knew how I operated from our time in Detroit together. He knew it was nothing but tough love.  He knew that I used my personal experiences and focused them into methods of motivation.  I was even trying to push them along in case I was no longer able to be there for them.  Not in the same manner I was worried about previously with my brothers as far as leaving this earth, it was more so just knowing that life happens… and if something happened where I could no longer mentor or coach, they would have gotten the best they could have gotten from me in the time that we shared.

Although my intensity has worked well in the mentoring arena.  I’ve also struck out with it at times.  Another memory that comes to mind is when I had been dating someone and she essentially told me that my tactics to motivate are very effective but sometimes not pleasing at all.  I can’t really disagree with her.  I am the type of person that will say what people are afraid to say and I’ll say exactly what you don’t want to hear if I think that will be what it takes to help you move in a better direction.  I am mostly like that with people I care about most.  Yes, it is something that I can work on.  It’s probably something that I should work on.  However, at the same time though, it’s hard to argue with results.

And I’m definitely known for getting results.  I am good at it.  I’m just not good at being soft about it.

My Only

I wake up in the mornin’

Fall asleep at night

Dream

It’s you I see

For the football team

Wayne State University

Only other time I took a knee

But that was different

Then I was told

Now it’s the warmth of your love moving me

My heart’s no longer cold

You are my only…

My one and only

My only baby

You’re my craving

The only one

And I crave you daily

When I see you

I think ultrasounds

A kid runnin’ ’round

You having my baby

Growing old in love

Old together

Babysitting our grand-babies

Telling our love story

Once upon a time

My girlfriend

Became my Old Lady

Thank You Series: 2 Pillars

Part I: My Best Friend

It was 26 years ago
When we first met
If I put money on us
Would have lost that bet

Words really can’t explain what you mean to me
The world programmed men not to say such things
Clashed at first but we hashed things out
Young Kings in King’s hallway
You know exactly what I’m talkin’ ’bout

I am from 12th Street
You being from Linwood (NFL)
In the hood back then in Detroit
That was anything but good

Weren’t supposed to be friends
But that’s not our story at all
Became one of my strongest pillars
Refused to see me fall

When I was right or wrong
You always had my back
When I was wrong
Once we were alone
You’d tell me just that

I literally lost my mind
After the accident
Contemplated taking my life
But you weren’t having it

With just one line
You brought me back from the brink
Stared me in my eyes and said,
“What about Richard and Malik?”

Held that stare for a while
And let it resonate
Pulled my heartstrings in front of my face
So I could really see
So I could wake

Knew exactly how to hit me
How to eliminate
The destructive thoughts I was having
Without a trace

Called me by my government name and said
“The “you” I know is much stronger than that”
A lion always knows a lion
That’s not something to ever forget

I don’t know where I would be without you

Thank you

Pain Blinders

If for you

To make my case

Uprooted myself

Moved across states

Would my intentions be clear to see?

If I actually provided us a home

Was present as a whole

Accepted your child as my own

Would you still be blind to me?

Would you just be questioning to question me?

Would you be faithless to the faithful?

Not recognize

Seem ungrateful

Say things

Distasteful

Because you’re plagued full

Of past relationships pain

Toxic & hateful

That fell apart at the seams

Or would you be able to see

Me for me

None of what you went through

Has anything to do with me

Be able to trust and believe

In the plan developed for us to seize

And know

I’m just here to love on you

Love on her

Teach her things

And help raise our daughter

To a queen

Holiday Cheer

The time of year
For Holiday Cheer
Was stolen from me
For several long years

To 2018
From 2003
It took me that long
To buy one Christmas Tree

Bah Humbug!

Closed off like I was Scrooge
Avoided family and peers
Felt like I was robbed
Like The Grinch had been near

September 17th, 2003
My Grandmother
Said her last “Happy Birthday”
To me

I could tell she was in pain
It was hard for her to talk
She struggled to say my name
My mom was helping her to walk

Sweetest Day was October 18th
That’s the day she passed away
I ceased to celebrate…
Holidays became

My bereavement days

Next it was Thanksgiving, y’all
Now, Granny was from the south
Yeah, I still had food and all
But nothing tasted the same in my mouth
Not at all

Christmas came and it was devastating
I sat crying in the corner
Listening to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by The Temptations
On her record player
We’d ritually start Christmas morning with that song
The tradition started before I was born
It was my deceased uncle’s favorite rendition
It just wasn’t the same since she wasn’t there
Nothing felt the same
I wasn’t happy giving or receiving gifts
I guess it was because I knew
Next month on January 9th,
It would be her birthday
Another day I wouldn’t be able to celebrate with her
Like I had done my entire life

Fast forward to December 2018
My girlfriend and daughter, Miyah are living with me
I was reluctant to go shopping
But the sparkle in Miyah’s eyes
Reminded me of a time
Where the worries of the world weren’t a worry for me
They didn’t weigh on my heart previously
And they didn’t weigh on hers now
She wanted a Christmas Tree…
And an iPhone
And a ring light
And a TV
Should I go on?

Fittingly enough,

Around the same time I was visited by a spirit

A Ghost of Christmas Past

With a familiar voice
My Granny said:
“Everything is going to be alright and everything is gon be how it’s gon be”
In her Southern-country / Midwestern accent
First time in a long time
I’ve heard her voice
Without trying to access a memory

Christmas Day comes
My girlfriend and I set it so that
Miyah’s last gift to open
Would be her iPhone
We concealed it in an instant oatmeal box
So that when she opened it
There would be a level of suspense
Once she got through all of the tape
And realized that she got an iPhone XR
Her pure excitement sent a jolt of emotion through me
That had been foreign to me for years

I felt every good feeling that I used to have before my granny died that was associated with the holidays.
It was like a weight had been lifted

It was the return of my Holiday Cheer

Miyah

“It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas (the thought) means a little bit more.” –The Grinch (Jim Carrey), How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Lie To Me (Some Can’t Handle the Truth)

Lie to me
Tell me you love me
Don’t have to mean it
Lie to me
Paint me a picture
Because I need it
Lie to me
Tell me a tale
While sleep
I’ma dream it
Lie to me
I’m weak
Don’t want to see it
Lie to me
When I wake
I need to believe it

Lie to me

Please protect me from my weakness

Lie to me

DEATH IN THE FAMILY

She was

One of my kids

Just like you

 

Her name was

Isabella

I always called her Izzy

She was one of the 2 little girls

Sisters

That I would bring to practice

At Burton

When they were in my care

I’d take them to the other side

You know…

Across from the gym

So that someone in the afterschool program

Could braid their hair

I obviously had no clue on how to do that

Last night,

October 29

Izzy committed suicide

She wasn’t biologically mine

But still,

She was mine

Just like you

I don’t know if I had been more active in her life

If I had done more

If it would have made a difference or not

I do know that I am out of time

If only I told her

What she meant to me…

Sometimes having knowledge

Of a person’s true feelings

Or actually having it verbalized

Goes a long way

I won’t make that mistake with you

Our relationship is a two-way street

It always has been

I have affected you

You have affected me

Family is more than just a bloodline

I may have been a role model

Or even a second dad to you

You have been first children of mine

And reasons to become a better person

Having children teaches love in a way

That can’t be taught otherwise

It has been an honor to be in your lives

And hold the position

In your hearts and minds that I have held

Seeing you grow into the adults that you are now

Has been the best movie I have ever experienced

I’m looking forward to the sequels

I love you

I believe in you

I always will

If I think you are wrong about something,

I’m still going to tell you about it

And I’m going to use that tone

Adjusted for the fact that you’re now over 18

If you ever need to talk

I am here

I wish I could have done more for your sister

She would have been 19 on November 29th

Izzy was one of my kids

Just like you

2 Questions

I come to you fully exposed…

No walls, no barriers

Defenseless

No bravado

No inflated ego

No mannish pride

No tricks or side angles

No games…mind or otherwise

You’ve overtaken my mind over time

And are in my thoughts working overtime

A natural cause and effect scenario

With the affect immortalized

By way of your many distinctive determinants

The impression on me you’ve made isn’t fleeting or miniscule

Its essence transformational

It has the meat of permanence

We both know what happened and what didn’t

We both share some responsibility

I admit

At times I was protecting me from you

Just like you were protecting you from me

I will do better if you let me

I want to

Known for keeping my word

And I want you…

…to trust we can succeed

The bricks and mortar are already there

Foundation

Opportunity to build on top of that

Is the only need

Here I am

Before you

Humbled and fully exposed

I’ve knocked down walls

And removed barriers

I have:

Open eyes, arms, heart and mind

None of them to you are closed

I don’t know how else to say it

I really don’t know how else to act

I do know how I plan to fix it

But the only power I currently have is to ask

Will you let me love you better?

The bond we share is not happenstance

You and what we have should be fought for

Will you give us the fighting chance?

Here I am before you

Vulnerable and fully exposed

No tricks or side angles,

No bravado

No inflated ego

All I have are these 2 questions

Along with

Open eyes, arms, a heart and mind

That are no longer closed