Twelve years ago, I was a regular, mixed twelve-year-old boy playing for his youth basketball team at a tournament in the Sacramento area. With the final seconds of the championship game coming to a close, as I brought the ball up, ready to set up the play.
I’d been following the game plan all game by passing the ball to the right people and never looking to score for myself. But the last couple of trips down the floor had not been going my way. Because I’d become predictable, and the defense had started sagging off of me to play the passing lanes. Daring me to drive to the hoop for a score.
But I kept thinking to myself, my defender is bigger, stronger, and faster than me. So I have no chance to score on them and might as well just follow the plan by passing to someone who can score.
Someone like my best friend, Peyton, who was the best player on our team, who had the confidence to make everything he touched into gold. So, for the last moments of the game, I looked for his glowing red hair coming off screens and put the ball in his hands to take the shot to win us the game.
And with no effort whatsoever it seemed. He hoisted the final shot with full confidence to break the tiebreaker and win us the Sacramento thirteen Championship. We all screamed with joy as all of us ran over and tackled Peyton in celebration of our victory.
Then, as we were waiting to receive our trophies, I looked over to my dad sitting in the crowd. With a smile as big as the world, staring back at me.
“Dad, we won, we actually won!” I said, running over to hug him after the award ceremony.
To which he responded, “I know, I saw, Big Dog. You did great! That was some magnificent passing you did out there. You looked like a young Magic Johnson with some of the passes you were doing out there. What do you say I take you to get some ice cream before we hit the road?”
“Sounds awesome, let’s go!”
Sitting in the back of our 2005 Honda Civic with my strawberry ice cream in hand, staring out the window at the stars of the night. Chilling to the smooth sounds of an R&B CD that my dad had bought many years ago. We were taking a shortcut down the winding roads of a Sacramento mountain on the long trip home to LA.
“So, Money, how do ya feel after winning the championship?”
“It feels great, but I don’t think it should have been that close. I mean, if I hadn’t been so afraid to drive to the hoop to score and be more like Peyton, then we would have easily won.”
To which he responded, “Well, Dak, I know how you feel, but a win is still a win. And you did what you thought was the best thing to do at the time. But I do agree that you should definitely be more aggressive and confident with yourself. And have full faith that, with your smarts and confidence, you’ll be a great adult in this world. So let’s enjoy the win and grow, so we can win the next championship.”
“You’re right, a win is still a win. And next game, I’m gonna start looking to score instead of always passing it to Peyton.”
“That’s the spirit! Now, that’s what I want to hear!” He said as he looked at me in his rear-view mirror.
“By the way, why didn’t Mom come see me play tonight? Was she busy at the hospital again?” I asked.
“Yeah, your mom got called into the hospital for an emergency right before we were going to leave. I guess there was a multi-car accident on the freeway that needed all hands on deck. So that’s why she couldn’t make it tonight. But she’ll be back in the morning and you can tell her all about the game, I’m sure she’d love to hear how it went.” He said.
Then he asked, “Do you want to change the music to anything?”
“Nah, I’m cool with the music,” I said. Looking out the backseat window and looking back up at the stars.
That would be the last thing I would ever say to my dad. Before seeing a flash of blinding blue light.
With our poor Honda Civic not standing the slightest chance against the oncoming vehicle as the car lifted off the ground and began rolling down the road. Until landing upside down with Dad and me hanging from our seat belts.
My head throbbed with pain and blood dripped from my mouth as I undid my seat belt and fell onto the glass riddled ground of the car. The backseat passenger door had come ajar from the impact of the crash so I was able to escape out of it into the middle of the pitch-black darkness of the road. After escaping out of the car door, I ran over to the driver’s side to help my dad out of the car. As he was still buckled into the seat and unconscious from the airbag deploying, but as I tried to the open the door, it wouldn’t budge. So with all the strength I could muster, I started pulling the door, trying to get it open.
Then before I know it, I saw another flash of light. And this light wasn’t there to save us; it was there to destroy everything. Because the light came from a huge black Hummer that crashed into our Honda with a sonic boom that sent me and the car flying off the edge of the Sacramento mountainside.