All-Stars With No Rec
Long before I stepped foot in a gymnasium, I played basketball on rudimentary hoops, fastened to trees that wept sap onto their bark, apparently upset with their new puncture wounds. I played on hollowed bicycle rims fastened to light poles until removed by some daft city worker. I cavorted with children from a neglected segment of the population, some immigrants more familiar with soccer, and all of us on the wrong side of the tracks. Often barefoot, I emulated the moves of my favorite professionals without the luxury of comfortable shoes or plush contracts.
Prior to extreme sports, we rode our bikes down a make shift half-pipe during long summers when the city bayou receded, revealing the steep incline in which we shaved a run-way for the speeding wheels of our bicycle machines. One fateful evening, Fat Omar toppled off of his bike and broke his leg at the bottom of the ramp and the blaring of the ambulance siren symbolized the end of our fun. We were daredevils that rode without helmets, popped reckless wheelies, stood on cross-bars and handle bars, and took our knocks in stride.
We were Olympic sprinters running on asphalt tracks that callused our soles and established a pecking order for the fastest amongst us. We were ace sling-shooters, tree-climbers, and sometimes fisticuffers should the necessity arise. Scrapes and scars are the pride of a ruffian. Street lights illuminated our stadium, long after the sun retired into the horizon. Although most of us would never venture far from those familiar streets, we were all-stars.
Based on my upbringing, I developed an unorthodox and unique jump-shot and social perspective that remain with me today. I recognize the world is much bigger than many of us playing sports on dead-end streets could have imagined. I know that circumstances often predict the development of talents and potential without privilege is easily overlooked. I am humbled by my insignificance yet confident that each person possesses the ability to change the world.
Paschal Sampson Wilkinson IV