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LONG JEFFERY and the BACKBOARD
By Abdul Shamsiddeen
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Abdul Shamsiddeen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSometimes when we lack confidence and self esteem, we let others define who and what we are. That is what happened to my friend, Jeffery.
Long Jeffery was 13 years old and very tall for his age. He was 6'5 and wore a size 14 shoe. He was considered goofy by all the kids in the neighborhood. He was very shy, very skinny, and had big ears. His clothes didn't fit him and he would trip over his own feet when he moved to fast. All the kids he knew were shorter than him by at least 5 inches. They would call him Jeffery the Giraffe or Big Bird. That hurt his feelings so bad that he would cry in his room at night.
Jeffery would ask his mother why he felt so uncomfortable in his own body. She always replied, "You are very special. Your height is a gift, and once you learn how to use it you will see things change all around you". It always made him feel good to hear his mom say that. Her words alone would ease the pain he felt when the kids would tease him on the playground.
One day, a group of kids were playing basketball in the park. He loved the game of basketball, and he would sit on the bench and watch the kids play for hours. He wanted to play with them but he never had the confidence to actually get out there and run with them. He was afraid that if he made a mistake they would laugh at him, even though they laughed at him about everything else already.
On this particular day the ball happened to bounce over to where he was sitting. He just looked at it, and when the kids asked him to throw it back, he just continued to stare at the ball. He was afraid he would make a mistake when he threw it back to them. One of the kids asked Jeffery if he wanted to play because they needed an extra person for the game. Jeffery sat there in shock and amazement. No one had ever asked him to play anything before. The kids thought that because Jeffery was so tall, he would be a natural on the basketball court. He should be able to play better than anyone else out there. Jeffery hesitated. It seemed like the world had stopped all around him. Everyone was staring at him. He began to sweat and he felt light headed. The kid who was half his size, grabbed him by the arm and dragged him on to the court. He was excited about being invited to play but he was also terrified about actually playing. At that moment he wanted to be anywhere but there. The next thing he knew, someone was yelling catch and the ball was speeding towards his face. Then just like that, he was looking at the sky and his face hurt.
The ball had hit him square in the nose. He heard laughter all around him and he didn't want to get up. He was so embarrassed that he didn't move. He heard one kid say, "I told you he was too goofy to play." another said, "If I was his height I would be a whole lot better than that," and another said, "With ears like that I would be able to fly to the rim." Jeffery wanted to cry but he forced the tears back. He made himself stand up and dust the dirt off his clothes. One of the kids told him to stand by the basket with his hands up and if he got a rebound to shoot the ball back in. Jeffery felt as if he was going to be sick. If he couldn't catch the ball how in the world was he going to be able to shoot it into the basket? It seemed like he was standing with his hands up for hours until finally a ball hit the rim and fell into his hands. He stood there for a moment and thought that if he could make the basket the kids would accept him and stop teasing him. He took a deep breath, aimed and shot the ball. It went right over the top of the backboard. He felt his heart sink as the kids fell over with laughter. Once again he heard the comments, "I told you he was useless and tall for nothing." "Man does he suck. He is the worst I ever saw. Don't ever pick him to play with us again."
Jeffery wanted to crawl under a rock and disappear. It was getting dark and the kids decided to stop the game and go home. Jeffery went back to his bench were he always sat and began to cry.
Excerpted from LONG JEFFERY and the BACKBOARD by Abdul Shamsiddeen Copyright © 2012 by Abdul Shamsiddeen. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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