Schooled on the Basketball Court… by an 8-year-old!

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Partners, Inc.


A game featuring two equally matched teams of kids, roughly between the ages of 8 and 17 (none taller than 5’9”), was nearing its end when I reached the basketball court yesterday evening.

Sitting on one sideline, a group of teenage girls giggled, sent text messages and discussed ”important” things like the upcoming Justin Bieber concert and Chris Brown’s U.K. legal woes. On the opposite sideline I watched players showcase their affinity for shooting and dribbling while displaying obvious disdain for anything remotely resembling defense, as evidenced by a lead that changed with every possession.

The absence of any real competition forced me to shift my focus from “winning” to “breaking a pretty good sweat.” However, when the game finished, the high school guys decided they didn’t want to take the chance on possibly being embarrassed by a taller, older guy who was the only person on the court who could dunk. The younger kids followed suit and soon I was on the court shooting by myself. That is, until a tiny neighborhood kid named Evan walked up to me and said, “Do you want to play one-on-one?”

At first, I thought he was joking and wondered if he had taken the time to assess the impossible mission he was about to undertake. (I’m 6’3” 180 lbs. and according to Evan, his doctor measured him at 3’5 and 64.5 lbs.) Then he stuck out his small, pale hands and gave me quick nod, nonchalantly asking for the basketball as if I was one of his fellow third graders. Remarkably polite, he said “thank you “each and every time I rebounded one of his misses and passed the ball back to him… every single time!

As Evan warmed up, struggling to keep his glasses from sliding down his suddenly sweaty nose, I made the decision to take it easy on him. Shortly thereafter, I realized that was a mistake. After scoring the first basket of the game with relative ease and virtually non-existent defense on my part, the diminutive young towhead made it exceedingly clear he was not accepting any charity.

“C’mon, stop taking it easy on me and play hard,” Evan said. “It’s the only way I will get better. “

The game was filled with the obligatory traveling, carrying and double dribbling associated with playing an 8-year- old, but there was a sense of determination and self-confidence that I had never seen in a child this young, especially facing such insurmountable odds.  It was quite a refreshing change. And, when Evan missed a shot or made a mistake, he didn’t complain or make excuses; he just hustled to get his own rebound and actually beat me to a couple of loose balls.

Our rubber match game of “Sweet 16” was cut short by Evan’s mom, who shouted from across the park that it was time to go home just as I was about to hit the game-winning shot. So, he technically won with 15 points to my 14 and interestingly, he taught me a lesson or two. Actually, five is more accurate and here they are:

Five Things I Learned from Evan:

1.   Situations are truly what you make of them.

2.   Losing now can provide an opportunity for winning later.

3.   Always give your best, even when it seems like it won’t be enough.

4.   Expect those around you to give their best, even if they are “better.”

5.   Politeness is an asset, especially during adversity.

So, when I start to feel a situation is too much for me to handle, I will think of Evan and his can-do attitude. If he can do it, so can I... and so can you. It's simply the power of perspective. Click HERE for a funny video relating to the power of perspective.


Gotham Realty Group Twitterbird


Comments (37)

Kathryn Acciari
Arc Home LLC - Shrewsbury, MA
Mortgage Loan Originator

Great story!  I hope we see your young opponent in the basketball pros one day.  And remember, never ever underestimate your competition.  :->  Thanks for sharing, Jonathan.  And congratulations on the featured post.

Jun 15, 2010 07:09 AM
Dinah Stallworth-Lewis
Priority Real Estate LLC - 318.332.8281 - Natchitoches, LA


Great story with lessons to be learned for all of us.  I agree with what you learned from Evan during your chance encounter on the basketball court.  I  especially like when you say, "losing now can provide and opportunity for winning later", that sticks with me.  Thanks for sharing.

Jun 15, 2010 07:21 AM
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Johnathan -  I loved this my man.  Oh, the pearls of wisdom that can be found in the most unlikely of places.  I think you should show young Evan this post.

Jun 15, 2010 07:40 AM
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Great, great story Jonathan! I have a feeling Evan will be schooling a LOT of people,on and off the court, before he's through! Thanks for sharing this inspiring story!

Jun 15, 2010 07:44 AM
Anita Batty
Abquest Appraisal Service - San Antonio, TX

Inspirational and heart warming.  Thank you Jonathan for sharing this terrific message.  Evan is a little boy who can teach us grownups a thing or two.

Jun 15, 2010 08:18 AM
Nathan Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Davenport, FL
Your Central Florida Real Estate Expert
It's really great to here a story like this. I grew up playing ball on the street and some of the older guys who taught me to play basketball taught me just as much about life. Great post!
Jun 15, 2010 09:17 AM
Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
I will help You find the Home YOU want to Buy

Jonathan, that is a great story. Especially when he knew you were taking it easy.

Jun 15, 2010 09:59 AM
Lisa Glowacki
Lisa Glowacki - Rhode Island & Massachusetts - Tiverton, RI
Real Estate Broker - RI & MA

Seems to me that you are both amazing people.  Thanks for sharing such a great story.

Jun 15, 2010 10:34 AM
Duane Murphy
Expert Real Estate Partners LLC - Appleton, WI
Broker- Owner-Real Estate -

Great story thanks for sharing! alot of us should be able to relate to your takeaways!

Jun 15, 2010 11:25 AM
Mike Conner
City Realty, Inc. - Olympia, WA - Lacey, WA

This was a great read and a refreshing break from the "real" world! Thank you so much for sharing and I hope you have more chances to gain insight from this mini Socrates!

Jun 15, 2010 11:36 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Thanks for the good post today.  I enjoyed it.

Patricia/Seacoast NH

Jun 15, 2010 11:37 AM
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC


Good story. Amazing what lessons you can learn from a kid.

Jun 15, 2010 11:46 AM
Joe Colón, Jr.
Jenny L Colón, PC - Chesapeake, VA

Hey Jonathan,

   I have to say that I didn't know what to expect from this blog when I clicked on it, but I have to thank you for sharing a wonderful lesson that was given to you by this amazing little man.  I hate to admit that, unlike Evan, I make WAY too many excuses for my shortcomings and dwell far too long on them.

   Thank you once again and if you ever see Evan again thank him for me...and for all who have been inspired by his "can do" attitude. Many blessings Sir!

Jun 15, 2010 11:55 AM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

Jonathan now that you said that I don't know if I want to get out there on the Basketball court anymore. This 6 ft 34 year old havent played in like four years and prior to that another three years or so. But I am more of a defensive guy anyway. Scoring is not my first option. Really like the advice that you stated in this writing. Congratulations on the Gold Star. Great post.

Jun 15, 2010 02:25 PM
Dani Baird Russell
John L. Scott Skagit - Mount Vernon, WA

What a great blog and better yet a wonderful story. When I used to coach softball at the local community college I was constantly learning as much from my players as they were learning from me. It is truly a rewarding and humbling experience to be reminded of lessons like those that Evan taught you. Thanks again for sharing Jonathan! I hope to ready more about Evan in the future possibly...maybe in a few years when he beats you!

Jun 15, 2010 04:26 PM
John Marshall - FORE!
LoKation Real Estate - Cherry Hills Village, CO
Specializing in Golf Course Properties

Awesome, we can learn from everyone cant we

Jun 15, 2010 04:55 PM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Fantastic post and applies in so many ways to daily life!

Jun 15, 2010 11:17 PM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Great story Jonathan. This young man will be somebody when he grows up. Actually he already is...he's an inspiration. Love this post. Thanks

Jun 16, 2010 12:24 AM
Michael and Ceili Yablonsky
RE/MAX SunQuest - East Grand Rapids, MI


Isn't amazing when the younger generation can see what we are doing, when we do not see it ourselves.   Sometimes we need to look at ourselves through their eyes, in business and everyday life and then we would do what Evan is doing, bettering himself and those around him.

GREAT post.

Jun 16, 2010 01:22 AM
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes

What a wonderful post!  What an amazing young boy.  He sure is going to be someone with that great attitude in life.  Thank you for sharing this story.

Jun 16, 2010 03:32 AM