My dad instilled into my brothers & I our love for basketball at an early age. He would get us out on the backyard basketball court almost every night playing 2 on 2 basketball; my dad & I on one team, my brothers on the other. The most hilarious part of it all was that when my brothers defended me they had to ALWAYS have one hand behind their back (to give me an advantage because they were taller than me) and when I defended them, I could use any force necessary to "shut them down" as my dad would put it. This often included me slapping my brothers in the face, torso, legs; yelling right in their face, climbing on their backs when they tried to shoot the basketball. Good times.
Both of my brothers went on to start on varsity basketball their freshman year in high school and played all four years. Each of my two brothers had a great three point shot, excellent court vision for plays and both were inspirational team players.
I was always inspired by them and the teams they played on at school, and when I turned 16, I wanted what they had. So, that fall after my 16th birthday I tried out for the girls varsity team. Did I make it? No. I did make junior varsity though and had the time of my life during my junior year of high school.
One of the many reasons I probably ended up on junior varsity was the fact I was about five foot three and weighed 83 pounds. Because I was lean and scrawny, I got hit around on the basketball court like a rag doll. I earned the name "Gumby", because of my stature and the simple fact of every time I got knocked down, hit, pulled or pushed around:
I got right back up each time and continued to play.
I had great defensive skills (learned early on playing basketball with my brothers) yet my offensive skills were seriously underdeveloped. I had an incredible sense of fear shooting the basketball, worried I would miss the shot or the ball would be stolen from me when I would shoot the ball (I was the second shortest on the team). One day, I started sharing this with my dad and he told me something I would never forget:
"Vi. Did you know? You can get an opportunity to score even if you don't personally have the basketball? It's with the screen (or pick as he would call it) you can get the shot, the foul shot. You can get the foul just by standing there, with your feet planted firm, hands over your chest. If you are in the right place at the right time, you set the screen for your teammate with the basketball, you can draw the foul when and if the defensive player runs into you. If she pushes you down or runs into you, you get to shoot the free throw shot. You get the opportunity. "
This whole concept opened my eyes. I started working on my free throw shot like crazy. I started practicing the screen with the 2 on 2 basketball games I would play with my dad and my brothers.
And guess what? It finally clicked. After a bit of effort, I got the hang of how the screen worked. I would stand with my feet firm on the ground and if I would get pushed down and get fouled; I would get back up for the opportunity to shoot the basketball. I would get back up for the opportunity I worked so hard to get.
Do you ever feel like this in your life? Like you are practicing over and over again. Working like a mad person at what you love to do. Pushing yourself to the limit to get to where you want to go. And then you get pushed down. You get fouled.
You can get right back up.
Even when your feet are firmly placed on the ground, you can get knocked down.
Those times you are pushed down, pushed to your limit are difficult. Not easy. Not always nice.
But you can get right back up every time for the opportunity to do what you love. To take that shot and start all over again.
You can make the opportunity. You don't need anyone to give it to you.
It's not easy. You WILL get knocked down in the process.
What I've learned from this simple lesson is that when you get knocked down, sometimes that's the greatest opportunity to get back up and take that shot at what you've worked so hard at. Don't let it stop you from what you love to do.
Don't give up when you are knocked down.
Don't forget you can get back up.
here's an visual example of getting fouled on the screen with Lebron James and Carlos Boozer: Carlos Boozer sets the screen for his teammate, LB fouls Carlos Boozer, albeit a flagrant foul, but a foul no less.