Sports And The Single Mom
My sports journey began for the same reasons that many kids’ do. My single mom wanted to keep me busy and out of trouble, and playing sports was the easiest way to do that.
By late elementary school I was playing AAU basketball, football, and running track and field. Before we knew it, my mom and I had become a travel sports family, spending nearly every weekend on the road, competing in invitationals all across the country. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that sports would become the glue, the thing that connected us.
Being on the road with my mom gave me a gift – the gift of time with her. Traveling alone gave us a sense of unity, an “us against the world” bond that is still a large part of our dynamic today. Some of our greatest shared memories were in that car driving from one new city to the next. We had conversations about life, about victory, and about defeat. We met new people, got lost together, and saw beautiful places and landmarks. Many teenagers pull away from their parents in high school, but my best moments and memories were in the car for hours with just my mom.
My mom is one of the strongest people I know. Watching how hard she worked and how much she sacrificed to keep me in sports taught me the importance of being unselfish. My mom worked all day, yet still found the time and energy to drive me to practice, stay to watch, and then cook dinner when we finally got home, and she always wanted to hear about my day. My mom never complained, and her example taught me the importance of hard work, how to be resilient, and the value of a positive attitude.
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Even as a young person, I knew what a gift I had in my mom. I knew how much she had given up for me, and my goal was to become a college, and ultimately, professional athlete. I looked at my youth sports career as an investment for the future.
I wanted my mom to see that her hard work and sacrifice had paid off. I wanted to have the income to finally take care of her instead of her having to take care of me. When I didn’t get the college scholarship, I felt terrible. All that money, time, and energy she had poured into me, and I couldn’t give it back to her. And when we talked about this, she did what she has always done. She taught me another life lesson by reminding me that sports was our glue and that her love wasn’t dependent on the outcome. She only had a deep gratitude for sports and all that it had done for me and for us.
Javonn Gamble is a film, television, and media major at The University of Michigan.