FAMILY SUNDAY – “His mother taught him how to shoot,” the parent told me. “And she would not let him shoot threes or outside of close range until after eighth grade.”
This was a parent telling me about Felicia Jenkins, the mother of Kris Jenkins, who hit the winning shot for Villanova a few weeks ago. I don’t know how I missed this story. I was thrilled to have this info as more proof of what I absolutely know to be true, but have a hard time selling. I sat down later that night and read the story of Kris Jenkins and his mother, a former college basketball player and coach, who now works at an Amazon distribution center where she had to check her phone for the play-by-play in the quarter-finals because she had to work. I reflected on what it often takes for parents to ensure that their children are given a fair shot at reaching their potential as human beings and athletes.
The story of Kris and his family is also a reminder of how we all need help sometimes. If my mother had been a single parent, she would have had to rely on more parents in her life because she was already spread so thinly with four kids. This is true for kids who go through a rough patch – from kids who have money and education, to those who are lacking in both – and it’s true for parents who try to find and sail on steady waters. It is why we as a community have to be more open to helping each other out even if it’s just a car ride to a game, or a more open conversation, or asking a person who has an impact on your child to weigh in and support. At the very least, given that there is no instruction manual that comes with parenting, maybe the best we can do is to try not to judge.
And I want to go back to what struck me the most – it was not the line about the jump shot. It was the example Felicia set by being at the office working while her son was living the glory that was all possible because of the decisions she made to give him the best opportunity to succeed. Read this story about how Felicia Jenkins taught her kids the invaluable lesson of what it means to demonstrate that success is earned through hard work, proper and consistent training, as well as a great deal of self-discipline and sacrifice.