To my unborn son, I want you to know that you are LOVED! The kind of love that, “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”(Corinthians 13:7)
I know you have no clue what awaits you in this cruel world...it’s hard out here little man! The safest you will ever be is where you are right now. In the womb where you are shielded from COVID-19, police brutality, racism, hatred, and more. Life is complicated, unfair, and unjust, but even through all of this, we will push you to succeed, inspire, and to make a difference.
Your mother and I will be there every step of the way to navigate as much as we physically can. But one day you will have to steer your own ship. And when that ship has sailed my greatest wish is for you to have made an impact. An Impact on your family, loved ones, strangers, the community, the church, the youth, and just every person to ever encounter you. Change lives my son, help others, be special.
Even with the deck stacked against you, through those obstacles, the world will throw at you, understand you are able, and powerful! Whenever it feels like it's too much to handle, always remind yourself that God gives His toughest challenges to his greatest warriors.
Where do I begin about this whole parenting thing...
I have experienced many different things in my lifetime, but I guess my next and newest mission is parenting. Something I have no experience in, but luckily I have been blessed with two GREAT parents. So be patient with me son, I’m a work in progress (I’ve never even changed a diaper before. Just keep that between us).
I will use some of the things my parents did for CJ (your uncle) and I growing up to help you become a man. Your mother and I will also throw in what her parents instilled in her and her brother.
But most importantly your mother and I will work together as a team to teach you and mold you into what we believe to be the best way of raising a young King. I wish that was your biggest obstacle, I wish that was your grind, your story.
But I would simply be dreaming.
Your mother and I are learning how to be the best parents we can be for you, is nothing and laughable, to what you will face. And that’s the hard truth.
Son, my first challenge as a father is to be a great husband, to remember your mother will still remain a priority, as will you.
This may not make sense to you, but the household is in a different type of positive space when both parents live together in harmony, happily, and lead you together; as one.
As great as your grandparents are, this is something me and your mother did not have. We grew up in a home where our parents were divorced (at age six for both of us). So my goal is to always be there for you every day, every second, jointly with your mother.
No double Christmas celebrations, no multiple birthday parties (sorry son, fewer gifts for you, but you will appreciate us as one when you get older.) No using your parents against each other by asking me something that I say no too, so you go and ask your mom. Although funny in theory, those days aren’t happening for you! Your mom and I already manipulated that system.
My next challenge is to be here for you as long as I can. I know everyone has their day and their time, but I pray the Lord allows me to see this through. My dad’s father was killed when he was just eight years old. My mother’s mom died when she was 19.
I see the pain in their eyes.
The lessons they missed, the hurt they faced. But the hardest part, I think they dealt with, was being forced to grow up earlier then they should have. It also forced them to change their dreams and goals, which made them have to sacrifice when they shouldn’t have. And as a result, they give up things that they had set out to do.
I don’t want this for you.
So regardless of when my time comes, I want you to stay the course and do whatever it is you set out to do. Find a way and push forward. I’ll do my part, and try to take care of myself the best way I can, but you have to always be ready son, life is short. But I plan to ride it out with you for as long as God allows me too.
Your next obstacle is that people will tag you, and put expectations on you.
You set your own goals/expectations and you do what you want in this life because it’s yours. I have already achieved my goals and accomplished my dreams, your mom has done the same. We will not live through you, so never feel that pressure. Also to add,
You do NOT have to play basketball, I repeat you do NOT have to play sports.
Do not allow anyone to apply pressure and make you feel like that is your path. The only expectation we will have for you is to put God first, be respectful of all adults, to excel academically and to never quit. Whatever you do, whatever you pursue, I will expect you to grind and push yourself. That is all.
But I shall warn you, if you do choose the basketball path it will be hard my son. Not the basketball part, that’s easy. The hard part will be the hate, the comparison, the scrutiny. They did it to your uncle and me our entire lives and they still continue to try to put us against each other. All we want is to see each other succeed and push each other.
Like Jay-Z said, “what’s better than ONE millionaire, TWO. Especially when they are from the same hue as you.”
They will compare you to your father, a 4-time NAIA All American, and a 10 year (and counting) overseas professional. Plain and simple, you want it or not. And son, believe me when I tell you I did the damn thing!
Check YouTube if you don’t believe me (yes I will be that parent, but only if he starts feeling himself). They will compare you to your mother who was a standout track athlete in high school and had some college opportunities, but chose to focus on solely academics (she liked it, son, she didn’t love it! But she was good, and really fast).
They will compare you to Uncle CJ (Also an All American in college multiple years, a 7 year (and counting) NBA vet. Just a walking bucket, one of the best, one on one players in the league, All-Star type of talent, max player elite.
They will compare you to Uncle JT (yes son your mom's brother) was a HS All-American, 5star recruit, #3 DB in the nation and top 30 in the nation regardless of position, ended up going to Michigan on scholarship out of HS. Was a hell of a running back too...Probably the best athlete in our families (he can hoop too, but football was his bread and butter). Son, I know I said you can do whatever you want, but I hope you stray from football, it’s a dangerous sport, but it’s your choice!
Man, now that I think about it we have an athletic family, even your grandparents hooped and we’re good. Your grandma (my mom) averaged 17 points per game (she was a shooter) her senior year in HS (made it to state final 4) and had partial scholarship offers to play in college but had to get a job and work when her mom passed. They say your grandpa (my dad) was nice too. Said he had the jumper, could shoot it from anywhere, but he too had to work and help the family with a father being killed at such a young age.
That’s why me and your mom work so hard so you won’t have to face these types of ultimatums. Now let’s talk about your other grandpa (Brittny’s father) he was a standout DB in high school and went on to play at Iowa State on a football scholarship. He was tough and a hitter with great size. Definitely a playmaker on that field. So son, just understand they will talk about the “genes” the gifts but understand if you choose that route it means nothing without hard work. Don’t think you are entitled or guaranteed just because you come from an athletic background, and also don’t feel pressure to do what we all did.
My greatest gift can be your greatest weakness, or your biggest strength.... you chose son. Growing up we were barely middle class. We had everything we needed and a little of what we wanted. My parents worked hard and made sure we lived a good life but there were some things we couldn’t afford or have.
I can remember when I was 11 years old as I sat in the living room and watched a college basketball game on tv and proclaimed I wanted to go to college and play. My father looked at me and my brother dead in the eye and told us, “college is expensive and your mother and I can’t afford that. So if you guys want to go to college or play basketball you will need a scholarship.”
My first thought was, “scholarship?
What is that?”
Soon I learned and started approaching this game differently. That increased my hunger and made me want to get things that we didn’t have growing up. So my fear for you is where will your hunger come from? You will grow up privileged, you will be raised living in a large home, suburban life.
Will you understand that this is not normal?
Will you know you are blessed and that many face financial struggles or grow up in different circumstances?
Will you think life is easy because you have access, contacts, and advantages?
Well, don’t believe the hype, as a black man that isn’t enough! You have to actually work to be the best you can be at whatever you choose. Or will you see how accomplished those around you are and those family members who have excelled as an example? Will you also want a seat at that table? Will that greatness you see on the regular become what you expect of yourself? Will you see that everything is attainable because you have positive examples of those who have attained the goals they set out for. However, you view it will be crucial to your growth.
Side note: don't listen to anyone who says you have money, or you’re rich. Ha please, you're broke, your mom and I have money. You don’t have anything little man.
The greatest obstacle you will face is something you can not change nor should you want to. Because you were born that way. Embrace your blackness, love yourself, you were created in his image. You are black, and I pray this world lets you grow to one day become a man.... damn that’s a scary thought, you becoming a man isn’t a norm in this society! So I have to prep you for racism, discrimination, and misguided stereotypes.
Some will be small and come in school when you're in a class and teachers talk about black history or slavery and every kid who isn’t black (and some teachers too) turns around and looks at you as if you have all the answers. Be prepared to be followed in a store as you go up and down the aisles. If you have a nice car son, sometimes the police will just follow your block after block.
And dear lord please never get pulled over because a traffic stop can turn into a funeral. But son they may pull you over just because they can and when they do make sure you pull registration, and insurance out the glove compartment and Driver's License before they get to you. Because one reach to the glove compartment “false move” in their head will lead to the officer being aggressive and shooting first and asking questions last. Make sure your hands are in sight and don’t let them search your vehicle without a warrant. You have rights, you have to be careful because they have been known to plant evidence sometimes. So it’s better to not even take the risk.
They fear your blackness, some even hate it. And the worst part is they can kill you and get away with it. They don’t get fired, they get suspended with pay. They get relocated to another station. They don’t go to jail, they walk the streets freely. The worst part about this is that I can prepare you, teach you, and give you the formula to try and protect you. But the truth is son there’s nothing I can do that can save you, me, or any other black man in America from this reality.
We are not safe, by we, I mean black men!
Another day passes another man is murdered by law enforcement and his family will never be the same. Meanwhile, the killers will walk free and their lives will return to normalcy. When will it end, when will an example be made?
To my unborn son, these are a few of the challenges you will face. I can’t name them all, it’s entirely too many but these are some that come to mind. We have named you after me and after my father but threw in a little twist with the middle name.
Errick Legend McCollum III.
I know that name will suit you. Because you will make them remember you, my son. You will make that impact, you will leave a legacy, and most importantly you will make a difference.
Mommy and daddy love you. Take it easy on your momma with all the kicks and punches.
We can’t wait to meet you!
A true LEGEND in the making...
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