Grammy Winning Music Producer, Harvey Mason, Jr., on The Joy of Watching His Kids Compete
I’m a parent, I talk too much about my kids. I constantly Twitter brag. Everyone I work with is forced to see pics and hear about what my young ones are up to. Having said that, I literally can not stop myself from sharing the story of one of the best weekends in this dad’s entire life. Being in the entertainment business, I’ve done the Grammys and the Globes and every other snazzy Hollywood event but they pale horribly in comparison to my experience last week.
First some history: my wife and I raised our two kids in Manhattan Beach, CA. They grew up doing all the normal kid stuff and were very similar to all their friends. What was different in our household was that we all played sports, and we played them hard! As parents we encouraged our kids to find what they loved and pushed them to work at it. We challenged them and used sports to teach valuable lessons that we hoped would carry them through life. “Set goals!”, “work hard!”, “sacrifice if you want it!”, “create good habits!” My kids heard them all. What also makes us different is that they actually listened. They played every sport and they worked and practiced and did really well at many of them. Ultimately my son Trey chose basketball as his focus and my daughter Mia, volleyball.
What also made our family different was when Mia was 12, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. After emergency surgery, she went through 37 radiation treatments and spent 3 weeks in the intensive care unit at UCLA Hospital. Because of the surgery, she couldn’t walk or see out of one of her eyes. She had drains and tubes and wires everywhere and was totally miserable. One afternoon, to our surprise, the University of Arizona women’s volleyball team came walking into Mia’s ICU room. Turned out they were in town playing UCLA and had heard Mia loved volleyball and thought they would come and cheer her up. It was one of the first times I saw Mia really happy during that period. They made quite an impression.
After missing a year of school and re-learning many motor skills, Mia started playing sports again. Trey, the always supporting and loving brother, was off to an all-state high school basketball career and hoping to play in college. As Mia got stronger she began playing volleyball again. She wasn’t her normal self yet but was improving quickly. By her sophomore year she had made the varsity team … crazy! Trey decided rather than committing to one of the smaller colleges that was recruiting him, he would walk on at the University of Arizona and be a Wildcat. Meanwhile Mia continued to thrive and was ultimately first team all league and her high school team’s MVP. In an incredible plot twist that usually only happens in Hollywood scripts, Mia began being recruited by the same team that visited her in the hospital just 4 years earlier, the U of A. In a decision that was just too good to be true, Mia chose to join her brother and play volleyball for the Wildcats!
This brings me to last weekend when our family had the most unbelievable sports experience of our lives. My wife and I, dressed in our best U of A parents’ outfits, flew to Tucson and watched our daughter play in her very first college volleyball game. She was absolutely amazing and won. I was completely a mess and cried. Remembering how many times she threw up, thinking about styling her hair so you couldn’t see the bald spot or her scar, flashing back to her using a walker. These things flooded my mind and it was overwhelming. Look at her, diving and jumping and yelling and WINNING! Mom, dad and Trey couldn’t stop cheering. After the match she ran to us and the entire family hugged. This was an unbelievable moment that we didn’t want to end.
It had to though because just across the street Trey and his team would be playing Cal Berkley in hoops. Wow, can u believe this?! We hustled over and watched as our next kid ran out onto the court for warmups. The Cats would win and my family would repeat the hug we shared on the volleyball court again after, but this time on the basketball court.
We all rested the next day and then did the exact same routine on Saturday. Mia’s team would beat Cal in Volleyball and Trey’s team would beat Stanford just across the street. After the last game I thought to myself how special that was and how lucky I am. I realized that getting to see my kids do what they love is the best thing in the world. What did I do to deserve to be able to watch both my children play college sports and on the same day no less? Four games over two days … now that’s crazy.
In our final family hug for the weekend, I grabbed my kids and told them how proud I was of them both. And then I just blurted it out, “dang, I LOVE to watch you play!”
Harvey Mason Jr. has penned and produced songs for music industry legends including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears and Chris Brown. He has also produced music for blockbuster musical productions with Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls, Dr. Dre & Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton, to the eclectic cast in Pitch Perfect, and Mary J. Blige and Ne-Yo in The Wiz Live! Learn more about Harvey at harveymasonmedia.com and follow him on Twitter