There are times when you can understand a high school boy better when you close your eyes. Despite the gruff and perhaps even manly appearance a 15 year-old may project, when you listen closely to him, you can often hear the voice of a boy. That was particularly true for me a while back, when I was teaching a youngster who happened to be 7 feet tall. (Warning: Power is about to do some serious name-dropping below.)
One late August morning about dozen years ago, I was chatting with an amiable lad named Roy Hibbert, then a gangly 2nd year student, when a colleague stopped by to tell me it was time for our new faculty orientation meeting. When Roy heard where I was going, he asked, “Can I go, too? I’d like to welcome the teachers to our school.” How could I say no?
Roy wasn’t pulling an Eddie Haskel on me. Even with just one year under his belt, he felt so much a part of things and felt so good about his school, that he wanted to share his enthusiasm with our newcomers. Do I need to say that Roy left quite an impression on his new teachers?
Roy’s good nature was always evident. It was why he was wildly popular when he played basketball for Georgetown Prep and Georgetown University, and it is why he is enjoying the same sort of success today as a NBA all-star for the Indiana Pacers.
The cynics out there might say, “Hey, I’d be a happy guy too, if I had just signed a max NBA contract.” But Roy’s gentle goodness has nothing to do with money, and I was reminded of that today, when I read the article (below) about how Roy is reaching out to a boy who is dying of leukemia.
Fame and success haven’t changed Roy. Today when I close my eyes and think of him, I still see that 15 year old boy interested in reaching out to others. At a time when we are bombarded by athletes who disappoint us in so many ways, it’s reassuring to know that there are still those out there whom we can look up to – for a variety of reasons.