Four years ago, I surprisingly met a kid at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland. Quickly, I noticed his feet, arms, and height.
Considering that I am a former athlete, I had to ask him the million dollar question. "Do you play basketball?" "No," he said, with a smile. I wasted no time with a follow-up question. "Do you want to play?" "Yes," he uttered.
That very same day, he introduced me to his mother. After giving me a good report of his studies, his mother authorized me to assist him and the rest is history. I drove my new mentee to Kenmore Middle School as frequently as possible, introduced him to the physical education teacher, Michael Holmes, who eventually introduced me to the head basketball coach.
Well-mannered and humble, Derek Ogbeide (pictured right) loved math, among other subjects. At 13, he stood 6'2, wearing size 13 shoe. And, he simply wanted to learn the game that Dr. James Naismith invented.
Eventually, his making the basketball team created instant joy; it was also his first time playing organized basketball. The family and I were elated, needless to say. Obviously the tallest on the team, Derek blocked shots without jumping. Throughout every game, he fearlessly grabbed rebounds and blocked shots with a smile. When he scored, the cheers fired him up, more and more. He finally understood the "Three Seconds Rule."
Whenever the opportunity presented itself on weekends, he and I would discuss life and work out at the South Bowie (Maryland) Recreation Center with Friendly High School (Fort Washington, MD) coach Carroll Holmes. Considering that we are both left-handed in a right-handed world, I encouraged Ogbeide to become ambidextrous. And he is today.
Moving fast forward, again, Ogbeide is now 6' 8, 230-pounds. He helped Pebblebrook High School, outside of Atlanta, to a 24-6 record as a junior. As a senior, he signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Georgia next year. He's ranked as one of the top 75 best players in the Peach State. The best is yet to come!