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The Scout - Chapter 6 - I Scout Because...

Proverbs 18:16 says "A man's gift makes room for him And brings him before great men".

That has never been more true for me than right now. Over the last four years, I have found myself consistently in rooms with some of the best basketball minds in the world. However, the eerie thing is, I got to this point after a series of tragic and unfortunate events that pushed me to pursue my passion again.

In a little under twelve-months, I was smacked in the face with the reality that life is not promised and you have to make everyday count if you don't want to look back on life with regrets.

It started with my Grandmother Geneva passing in late December of 2015. My Grandmother was the steward of my family on my Fathers side. My Grandmother and I had a unique relationship compared to most of my other cousins. I didn't have her in my life when I was young, but when she moved to Atlanta while I was in Middle school to take care of my great-grandmother, we would soon develop a bond.

When I was in the 8th grade, I made the football team and like most 13-year-olds, I hadn't given it much thought on how I would get home from school after practice. I lived several miles away from school and both my parents worked late into the day. After our first practice, I decided to call my Grandmother, when she picked up I explained to her that I didn't have a ride home and she asked for the address and was there to pick me up shortly thereafter. This became a regular occurrence after practice, I would call and she would pick me up. Until one day we were riding home and she looked over and said "don't you think you're too small to be playing football" at the time I was the starting Free-Safty and leading the team in tackles. I regrettably snapped at her and listed all the reasons why I could be successful.

The next day my stubbornness kicked in and I decided not to call my Grandmother for a ride. I began to make the long walk home, about 15 minutes into my walk my Grandmother pulled up alongside me and told me to get in. When I got in she told me that she was proud of me for standing my ground and said: "don't let anyone tell you what you can or can not be, not even me. You can do and be whatever you want, I love you!" I can honestly say that I have taken that mentality with me throughout my life.

Ironically the next year, I let football go because everyone was getting bigger and I was still five foot nothing, 100 and nothing. So she was right in the end.

In early April 2016, my oldest brother Chris was arrested and would later be sentenced to prison for 7 years. I always looked up to my older brother when I was a kid. He was popular, handsome, always had a pretty girlfriend and was a sports fanatic. I credit him with my extreme passion for sports. It started in our neighborhood with pick-up football, basketball, and baseball games. I always wanted to be on his team because he'd give me the ball and block for me in football, hed set screens to get me wide-open shots in basketball, and he'd always coach me on how I could get a hit in baseball. It's safe to call him my champion. As I got older he would continue to support my athletic endeavors, he was standing at the back of the endzone when I scored my first touchdown. I didn't notice he was there until I heard him call my name "Butter" I looked up and he was there with a big smile on his face.

There was one basketball game I'll never forget, I started the game off HOT! I scored all my team's 13 points in the 1st quarter. He and my other big brother H.J. were late, when they walked in the gym I was in the corner closest to the door, and he asked me how many points do you have. I arrogantly pointed to the scoreboard before the start of the 2nd quarter indicating I had them all. I anticipated much of the same output but I couldn't buy a basket, I shot air-balls, missed layups, I even hit the side of the backboard on a corner 3 attempt. I was so embarrassed but as we came out after half-time he stopped me and told me to relax and let the game come to me before he had to leave to go to work. In the 2nd half, I did just what he said. I relaxed and began to knock down some shots, we won the game and I ended up with 27pts.

My brothers' unwavering belief in me is something I hold onto when I get down. We talk pretty much every week and I give him updates on how my life and business are going. He continues to encourage me to keep pushing forward on my journey.

On June 16, 2016, my son Ari Prescott died from complications of a premature birth after a 3-month battle. We were very excited to have our first son. Unfortunately, Ari struggled with several different complications throughout his time with us. When I found out I was having a son, I thought about all the things I could teach him. I would teach him to be a man of integrity and faith. I would teach him how to dribble and shoot a basket (he would've been a great point guard), I would teach him how to properly wear a suit and tie a necktie. I called him "Boss" and told him he would be king of the world every day.

When we lost Ari I was devastated, In my darkest hours, I leaned on my faith and family to get through the tragedy. When I surfaced from the emotional funk I was in, I decided that I would become the man I always wanted to be in honor of my son. That's when I decided to continue to pursue my purpose of working in basketball. I remember talking to myself and I kept repeating "make him proud, make him proud, make him proud". I pray that he's looking down and he knows that his Daddy is doing his best to make him proud.

In Mid-September 2016 my baby brother Malcom was arrested and he is still awaiting trial almost 4 years later. While I had the privilege of having my two older brothers to toughen me up daily, I believe that I did my baby brother a disservice. Our two older brother had both moved out during his formidable years so most of the time it was just me and him. Maybe I was too easy on him, maybe I didn't guide him down the right path, maybe I should've brought him along to my games and practices. I should've been there for him, instead, he started to hang out with the wrong crowd and get into trouble. I feel like I lost him before he was ever arrested.

We talked last week and he is optimistic about the potential for his release. He has a plan in place for his next steps, he wants to start his own business and credits me for inspiring him to become an entrepreneur. I told him I don't know what I did but I was happy that he found a passion and focus.

Lastly on Dec 9, 2016, my Father James died in a car accident after picking up my niece and nephew from school. When I got the call about my Dad, it was my cousin who reached and told me he'd been in an accident and I needed to get to the hospital right away. When we all arrived, they ushered us into a family room. As we waited on the doctor to deliver the new, the entire time I kept telling myself, he would be fine. However, when the doctor walked in I could tell that he didn't have good news. He asked who was my Dad's next of kin and I said: "I am". The doctor looked at me and said: "I'm sorry but your Father didn't make it".

From there I had to go into decision-making mode right away, as I stated early two of my three brothers are in jail and couldn't assist me in the planning of my Dad's service. I was pretty much on my own to schedule, organize and pay for everything. I put my head down, made all the calls and necessary arrangments to send my Dad off.

The interesting thing was during the time I was designing the funeral program, I kept thinking about the times I spent angry with him and how much energy I wasted not just showing my Dad I loved him. I just wanted him to have the best send-off possible, I wanted him to know that I loved him and I missed him, I wanted to apologize for all the time we fought, I wanted to carry on his name and make him proud.

My Dad always believed in me and was proud of all the things I had accomplished in my life. He knew my passion for basketball and would always ask how the job search was going. He was excited when I told him I started my scouting service a few months before he died.

I remember when he found about the new G-League team in Atlanta, he called me right away to ask if I'd heard about it and if I was going to apply. I told him that I'd heard and I was going to apply. Part of me wishes that I'd gotten the job before he died but I think he was more proud that I 'd ventured out on my own. He told me once that "sometimes you gotta show them how great you are before they'll come knocking on your door". And I want my Dad to know that's exactly what I'm doing.

What I learned throughout the year 2016 is there is no time like the present and tomorrow is not promised. Losing my Grandmother, Son & Father, coupled with my Oldest and Youngest brother's both being incarcerated all within the same year. It taught me to be grateful for every moment I have and not waste a second of my life. I don't want to look back in 50 years and regret anything, and I want my family that has passed on and my family is behind bars to be proud of me.

God gave me these talents, gifts, and passion I plan to use them to better service the kingdom. 1 Peter 4:10 says "Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms". And that's what I plan to do.

I scout because I want to inspire and encourage my brothers that they can do better and be better in life. I scout because I want to be the man my Son and Father would be proud of. I scout because my Grandmother told me I could do and be whatever I wanted to be. I scout because I want to help all of the under scouted/recruited basketball players achieve their dreams of playing college and professional basketball. I scout because I believe that this is what I am called to do.

Until next time...