No Choice But To Say "Thank You"

No man is an island, no man is self-made. No matter what "they" told you. On my gracious day of birth, I can do nothing more but realize I'm here because of you. My more selfish nature would typically continue the narrative around how this day is all about me. But there are so many others that make up that story. So I have no choice but to say thank you. 

You've taught me how to be human, you've helped me grow. There's not a success I can celebrate without the contribution of another. I'm only a quarter of the man I aspire to be, but I wouldn't be a cent of what I am today without...

A mother who interceded for me. At 7 years old, prime developmental years, I had a mother who was willing to sit in the classroom with her child. To bear witness of the racism and unequal treatment of me and the other little black kids in the classroom. A 7 year won't always be able to discern that, but a mother's intuition and desire to see her child is treated equally and according to his potential will. This is not an isolated instance of the privilege my mother's love afforded me, but merely an example of the seeds she sewed in my life. She eventually moved me to a new school, which afforded me new privileges... 

A teacher who was willing to understand me and prepare me for the world I would grow into. I recently read that having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced black boys' probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found. I don't believe being a high school dropout was ever in my trajectory, but it was a reminder of the experience I was afforded with when I was blessed with a 4th-grade teacher like Mrs. Strange. A black teacher, a mother who understood what was necessary to help develop someone like me. 

A father who was willing to provide opportunities not given to him. I continue to aspire to be the proper ambassador for my people, but it was my father's provisions that cemented it. I've been fortunate enough to learn parts of this world beyond my own since I was a child. The ability to absorb different cultures is to be at the height of humanity - and for that, I am in constant pursuit. From trips across these United States to Japan, it was my father who made way, inspiring a healthy curiosity to last a lifetime. This is not an isolated instance of the privilege my father afforded me, but merely an example of the seeds he sewed in my life. 

A coach who coached X's and O's and taught life lessons. At 16, ball is life. At 28 you re-learn the many lessons you thought were only applicable on the basketball court. Sadly, for Coach Brewer the game ended far too early, but the game plan still resonates. 

People in/at places who believed in me, Greater Emanual Apostolic Temple, Princeton High School, professors, and faculty of Miami University, brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., The Marcus Graham Project, Kraft Foods, Mondelez, 15 Hertz, Popz Topz family, Spike DDB crew, Chicago, Ohio to NYC the list could go on...

These are not isolated instances of the privilege afforded me, but merely a small sample of the seeds that have been sewed in my life. 

There's nothing more rewarding than to reflect on the many riches I have to be thankful for - in present and past, in good or bad. Every day I'm learning to go a little deeper, reinvent and rediscover. To every single person in my figurative village who has helped shape and inspire me, I thank you.