Everyone is Special!

This article is an excerpt from Neal Brownell’s book about bullying: “You’re Amazing and I’ll Prove it!”

I met Neal and Linda at the Book Day event last summer. We did a show on Channel 23 yesterday and I asked for something to share on this blog. This excerpt begins on page 70 of his wonderful book.

I hope you enjoy it. You can get a copy of his book on Amazon.

So, here goes:

I continued to practice all the time. Little by little, I slowly got better. With all the practicing and hard work, by the time I was a senior in high school, I was not only one of the best players in the school, I was one of the best players in our league.

Every year, all the boys in the school had to play basketball in gym class. Each class picked teams and played against each other. In order to pick these teams, we needed captains. I was chosen to be one of the captains. As captain, I had to pick the players I wanted on my team.

Each captain took turns picking players from the class one at a time until everyone was picked. One of the players I picked was a player named Bobby. Most of the kids in our school did not like Bobby. The other kids said he was dumb. He had no athletic abilities. Everyone in gym class told me he was going to be useless as a basketball player. I told them they were wrong and I would prove it to them. I had no idea how Bobby was going to help my team. I just had a feeling that Bobby would make a difference.

Bobby had many natural talents, but sports wasn’t one of them. It was very obvious Bobby hated sports and gym was the worst class he had to take. As we played our games, the other kids mocked Bobby. With all the mocking, Bobby wouldn’t even try. Bobby walked up and down the court with his hands in his pockets. I told Bobby not to listen to the other kids. I told him to hang in there, and he would make a difference when it really counted.

After playing a number of games, my team was the best gym team in the school and was chosen to play against an all-star team. The all-star team was filled with players from my high school senior team. Everyone told me that there was no way we could beat such a good team, even if Bobby wasn’t on our team. However, with Bobby as one of our players, we might as well not show up. I told them to watch and see.

The game was very close all the way through. Bobby just walked up and down the court the way he always did. After playing almost the entire game, the game was tied with only 26 seconds left on the clock. Guess who fouled out? That’s right, I fouled out of the game and the other team had possession of the ball. They could run the clock down to the last few seconds before they had to shoot.

I called a time-out. All my teammates huddled around me except Bobby. I called him over and told my team this was Bobby’s time. I told the other three players that I wanted them to play the best defense they had ever played. “Do not foul, and do not let them score.”

I then told Bobby I wanted him to stand under our basket at the other end of the court and act like he wasn’t part of the game. In other words, act the way he always did – standing with his hands in his pockets, showing no interest in the game.

I then told the other three players when the all-star team took their shot, I wanted all three of them to crash the boards, get the rebound, turn immediately, and throw the ball to Bobby. I told Bobby, “No one is going to be paying any attention to you. You will be wide open all by yourself. All you have to do is catch the ball and make a layup.”

Well, that’s exactly what happened: Bobby caught the ball and made a layup to win the game against the best players in the high school. As I said before, this all-star team was made up of players from my high school senior team. Just to let you know how good this all-star team was, our high school team won the league title that year and were ranked among the top teams in the state.

Bobby felt like a million dollars and the all-stars couldn’t believe that Bobby, the boy everyone said was useless, beat them.

This brings us to the next question: Who was the most valuable player on my gym team? Was it me, the best player on our team who fouled out of the game? On the other hand, was it Bobby, the player who made the winning basket with me on the bench? You also have to consider the fact that the play I set up would not have worked if Bobby was not Bobby. We would not have won the game without him.

THE SECOND LESSON I learned from basketball was that you never know how valuable any one person may be. Never judge a person based on what they can’t do. Always look for what they can do. Nurture a person’s strengths, and you will be amazed at what they contribute – not just to your life, but to other people’s lives as well.


“You’re Amazing, and I’ll Prove It!”

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