With the recent passing of the Kobe Bryant the question has been in my mind more than normal.
Success… What is it? How do you achieve it? How do you know when you have it?
See the thing is, I grew up not watching basketball, rather I was more intrigued with football and hockey. This was mainly because I did not have the opportunity to play the sport at my elementary and middle school. I did know the name Kobe Bryant though. Shooting on a cement court out in my neighbors backyard, yelling “Kobe!”
Never really paying any attention to what greatness he was achieving on or off of the court. But rather just focusing on the sport that I was hoping to play long term, football.
This sport love for me ended abruptly. Playing football stopped my senior year, 3 games into the season. See at that time I was at the point when I was most successful. I had finally made a name for myself within my town and finally making a buzz to potentially make it to the next level. Then that practice, my hips literally just gave up. I couldn’t run, it hurt to run, let alone walk.
I ended up literally gimping through the rest of the season, our team made it to the state semi-finals, and to put it bluntly we got squashed. See most seniors, at that point would have been upset, but me I knew it was time for the next endeavor.
This is where I now understand the struggle of the next step like I think any athlete has. Moving to life after the game.
Athletes are trained to live in the moment, make the sport you’re life. Well since the age of 5 football was my life. My dream to play varsity football for my highschool and win the rivalry trophy, was done. I did everything, I wanted.
I graduated with a gold cord, athletic letters and was accepted to the University my best friend had convinced me to go to. See but I never set goals that far because my focus was on sports and without a scholarship and the body of a literal 90 year old, I was lost.
I gave up the workouts, I gave up the discipline for school, I gave up my athlete mentality and just did nothing.
By doing nothing, I earned myself a one-way ticket back home. I had been kicked out of college because my grades were far from good. Not knowing what I wanted to do in life, I did realize this was the better option. Since it was cheaper and I went back to my parents for support.
Yes, there’s a trend. I did get accepted in a community college, I took a total of three classes my first semester… I dropped one within two weeks, so only two. A long with only being a partial student, I found a group of friends that loved to party. So my nights were more filled with alcohol, than school books.
Somehow I managed to achieve a (pitiful) 2.0 my first semester back. My second semester was beginning, again I choose only the classes, this time though I didn’t drop any. I finally decided, I wanted to go back to my University and graduate. The first actual goal I had set for myself since giving up sports.
The trend continued, alcohol and parties still out-ruled school, truly a seventy-thirty relationship. Again though somehow I managed to achieve (pitiful, again) 2.5 GPA, to get back into my University. This was the only high note that semester. Shortly after the alcohol continued to flow and my personal negligence, jeopardized my only goal.
The night I celebrated getting back into my University, I ended up in a jail cell. Not knowing how I got there. Not knowing what I had done. Not knowing if I killed someone. Rather just knowing I was in a navy jumpy suit, in a room with nothing more than a floor drain.
This was my true rock bottom. The true struggle and realization of what happens when you don’t set goals to succeed but rather to fail. My first memory back in that cell, I was standing at the door, looking through the three by twelve window screaming,“What happened? Why am I here?”
The guard at the time walked by,and this will be something I’ll never forget, he looked into the window and said “You could have killed my daughter, you could have killed my wife but yet you’re here yelling at me, why do I need to tell you what you did?”
I found out later as the alcohol from the celebration had wore off. I was charged with a DUI, at age 20.
This was not in my life goal. But this was that point, this was the slap in the face to wake up and change.
Finally after this was when I started setting goals for myself again.
I did the required tasks necessary for my mistake. The only positive was that I was allowed to continue going to school at the University I started at but was required to come home to meet my requirements set by the court.
This is why I now respect Kobe as a human. I never met him but the way he handled the allegations in 2003. He owned it, I’ve listened to how he admitted how he did wrong. How he had a miscommunication with the victim and was wrong in his actions. This is where I gained respect. In no means were the allegations of 2003 acceptable, but the way he handled himself since that. That’s it, that’s the athlete mindset.
Of course as an outsider and not knowing the man, I see the positive. The highlights, achievements and championships. But, after watching the celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter Gianna, since their passing, you see what kind of individual he was, how he didn’t dwell on the past but rather learned from it. He never let it define him. Listening to each of the speakers on that stage, you heard how caring, loving and genuine he was.
This now is what I achieve to do. I have set goals to be successful. Set goals to be that kind of person, to make that kind of impact on the ones I keep so close around me.
Since my mistake, I have graduated college. Something many never thought I could achieve. After my injury and not being able to run, I now do workouts five or six times a week. I learned more about the game of basketball, and shoot at least three times a week. I have goals for a family, for a home, for retirement.
If there’s nothing else you take from this blog, I want you to know, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to set goals for success. Life is supposed to have ups and downs and just because you may not be were you want to be today, grind. Make those goals come true, make the dreams you have come true. Be resilient, because eventually if you practice, keep practicing, practice some more, your goal becomes a stepping stone in the bigger picture of success.
That is the definition of success.