A champion never quits. I mean never quits. A champion looks at every situation and finds a way to defeat the obstacle. A champion works harder than everyone else. A champion also makes others around him or her better. A champion challenges themselves to be the best that they can be.
I have been asked a few times to speak to young photographers about my life and the challenges that I faced growing up. I always tell them about a story that happened to me in high school when I played on the basketball team.
My senior year in high school was a tough one for me. Financially my mother was struggling and because I chose to play basketball I did not have a job. So that meant I had one pair of black K-Swiss that lasted me the entire year. But that was not the hardest part about my senior year. The hardest part was being on the basketball team.
During a Christmas tournament in Las Vegas, me and two other players missed our ride to a game because we over slept. All three of us were told that because we missed the game that when the season started in a couple of weeks that we would miss the first two games.
That did not happen. Instead the coach decided to play the other two players in the first game. I understood his decision as both of the players were better than I and since our opponent was a team that was competing against us for the league title. All I could do was cheer and encourage everyone. The real challenge came the next night when we played a team that our JV team could beat. We had at least 20 guys on the team and I was far better than most of them.
Our coach decided that everyone could play in this game even though we had a 25 point lead at half time. The only problem was I was the only one that did not play in that game. I mean the end of the bench guys got to play. I thought me and my two teammates were suppose to sit out. The only person who was punished was me.
That night I went home and cried to my mother that I was quitting the team. I had enough of the politics. My mother told me something that sticks to me this day., “If you quit now, you will quit at everything else in life.” So I took her advice and did not quit. I became the most foul mouth cheerleader on the team. I played hard in practice and pushed everyone on the team. We won the Valley Championship. I got my ring and that is what I wanted. Although I did not play that much the rest of the year, I was very happy that I did not quit.
At the end of the year, when it was our awards banquet, our coach passed out all of the awards and then out of nowhere he said he had a special award to give. He talked about how this player inspired all of the guys on the team and how he lead by example. That player was me and I was given the “Most Inspirational Player” award.
See quitting is easy. Working hard is the tough part. I photographed a young man the other day. Mike Dallas Jr. is going to be the next champion. You can tell he has a no quit attitude and he has great people around him. I can also bet that if he gets knocked down, he will also get back up because he is a champion.
A champion never quits and I hope that you never quit. I was not suppose to be a photographer. But I never quit. I keep working hard. I want you to work hard and if you fall get back up. You are a champion. You are a champion. You are a champion.