So I just ran across a picture of mine when I must have been three or four years old. In the picture I'm holding a wiffle ball bat and wearing a Yankees helmet (in the house mind you). Baseball is my number one love. It is the first thing that I fell for and it is the first thing that sparked my imagination. Looking at this picture I remembered the first daydream I ever had. I'm about to embarrass myself, but I don't care. When I was about six years old I made my mom buy me a catcher's mask. I loved catchers. They were the dopest players on the field because they had all of the catcher's gear, but the mask was my favorite. I would always guess if the catcher had a mustache or not when I would watch the game. If he had a mustache I hated him. I think I was drawn to the mask because I was painfully shy as a kid and I felt like you could hide behind it. I think that is the main reason why I loved Darth Vader as a kid (I also prefer villains over heros, but that is a different blog post). Anyway, I had this catcher's mask. I had a favorite vest that was grey, blue and red. And of course I had my Yankees hat and baseball glove. So every afternoon I would drag my babysitter Kim to the park. I wouldn't play with the other kids though. I wore my vest backwards like a chest protector, put on my mask, put on my glove and imagine I was the catcher for the Yankees and play a full blown game...by myself. So here I am squatting down and calling balls and strikes with a pitcher, hitter and umpire who didn't exist. I would go to the bench when my team was up at bat. I can't imagine what I looked like to the other kids. I know Kim sat far away from me in the park. I won the World Series every afternoon. I really thought at the time that I was gonna play in the major leagues, but what I didn't realize was that I was building the foundation for the love that came into my life later on: film. I wouldn't trade those games in for anything. It made me who I am. I still think I'm a champion. I owe it to my younger self to never let that dream go.
I must admit that I am writing this with blurred vision as tears continue to stream down my cheek. I didn't wake up today anticipating writing this post. I learned, along with many others, that famed ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott passed away this morning from cancer at the age of 49. I must also admit that I did not anticipate feeling as emotional as I do right now. I remember sitting on my dad's couch with my sister watching Sportscenter one night. Stu Scott was on the show and by this time I was familiar with his distinct delivery of reporting the highlights. My sister wasn't really paying attention to the television until she heard "BOOYAH!" echo through the room. She jumped and asked who said that. I told her it was Stu. She sat in shock as this young black man spit our slang to describe a home run and pitching performance. We made it a point to watch Sportscenter together whenever Stu was on (especially when he was with his "TV Wife" Rich Eisen). We wanted to be in the conversation and he let us into his living room at ESPN. We saw ourselves in Stu.
Now looking at Stuart Scott's career through the lens of a filmmaker and not as a crazed sports fan, I truly understand his greatness. He was a groundbreaker. He was a pioneer for not simply being a lead Black male anchor, but also for performing with the courage to be himself in a conservative industry. The latter point will be his legacy. Regardless of race or gender, Stuart Scott showed young journalists that you could succeed by being damn good and being yourself. As a filmmaker looking to establish a firm career as a director, I have this internal debate of whether or not I should censor part of myself if it helps me to achieve some of my goals. Then I look on Stu's career and realize that is a bunch of bullshit. People are drawn to me because I don't hide who I am. I embrace myself much like Stuart did. I'm thankful for that lesson and I am thankful for him. He helped to make sports fun and he built the foundation that many of my favorite journalists walk on now. Thank you for your tremendous fight against cancer and thank you for winning that fight. You made many of us better people Stuart. RIP.
FUCK YOU CANCER.
I know this isn't film related, but I LOVE sports. I love sports as much as film and maybe even more. I was an athlete before being a filmmaker and it never left me. I have a love/hate relationship with basketball. I enjoy playing it, but it also was the reason for a catastrophic injury that indirectly led to me discovering film. So while I have fond memories of basketball; I also have hate what it did to me. But then I'm grateful because it led to my passion and career. As you can tell I am conflicted over the whole thing. That was just a long winded way of telling you to watch this amazing dunk by a high school SOPHOMORE. Pretty damn impressive... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MerJpZw7Puk&feature=youtu.be
So at some point I'm gonna merge my two biggest passions, sports and film, together on a couple of blog posts. In honor of starting that trend I present you with the early favorite for sports interview of the year. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6028527 This took place immediately after the Jets "shocking" (I picked them to win) victory over the patriots yesterday in the NFL division playoffs. His name is Bart Scott and he is one of the many vocal members of the New York Jets. Outside of the obvious comedy of the moment, I love this interview and respect this team because of the confidence and bravado. The belief that they can accomplish things while others doubt. I also admire the focus, concentration to detail and commitment to accomplish the stated goal which is to win. These are qualities that I try to incorporate in my own journey in becoming a successful filmmaker. Now success is obviously relative but I am basing this off of my own personal definition and expectation. I have an athletic background so I'm drawn to these examples to serve me in my endeavor. Its refreshing to see such unabashed and raw confidence on display . It reminds me that its ok to be the same way as long as its respectful. You have to believe and not be afraid to believe. Bart Scott and the Jets were unafraid and now they're one step closer to achieving their ultimate goal. I plan to follow in their footsteps and be one step closer to obtaining my ultimate goal.