Friday, December 11, 2009

Never ever ever give up. -- Winston Churchill

I recently saw a fireside given by basketball great, Thurl Bailey. He spoke about life's journey.

Something he said caught my attention. Besides mentioning kindergarten when all the other children came to his knee, he spoke of being in junior high.

He stood at a miniscule six foot four. In seventh grade. All through school he had been teased mercilessly about his height. He decided that if he joined some school clubs that people would overlook his height and concentrate on his involvement in these activities.

He joined nine clubs. And he was excited about this. But . . . not only did he want to join these clubs, he wanted to be the president of all of these clubs.

At the first meeting of each club, he approached all of the other students and told them what a great club this was and told them he thought he'd make a great president. This happened at each of the nine club meetings.

He was voted president of each of the nine clubs.

(You might be questioning the point of my quote at this point. Please hang in there with me, I'm getting to it.)

One day he was walking by the gym and saw a sign that read "Basketball Tryouts" with a day and time posted. He thought, Hey, I'm tall. People are asking me all the time if I play basketball. I could make the basketball team easy. I'll be the team captain. It'll be awesome. So he showed up for tryouts.

He stood heads above all of the other boys trying out, which boosted Thurl's confidence. The coach gave assignments -- dribble the ball, make a layup, etc.

Now remember, Thurl Bailey had never played with a basketball in his life, much less owned one. He didn't even know what a layup was. He had to watch what all of the other boys were doing and attempt to copy them.

The next day he approached the posted list of team members. His name wasn't on it. This devastated him. He was tall. He was the president of nine clubs. Why couldn't he make the basketball team? He hovered over every player.

A year passes. He's in eighth grade. He's still involved in the clubs. He's overcome the devastation and tries out again. Some time in the last year he got a basketball. He's more confident. He's ready. He's six foot nine. He'll make it for sure this year.

Tryouts came and went. He approached the posted list of team members. Again, his name wasn't on the list.

He practiced playing basketball. The next year, as a freshman in high school, he tried out again. This time he could make a layup. He approached the typewritten posted list. Some boys were walking away, heads hanging. Some were giving high fives. The names of the team members were listed in alphabetical order. His name wasn't listed under the B's. He scanned the list until he reached the end of the names. There, at the bottom, handwritten in pencil was Thurl Bailey's name. He looked to the boys surrounding him. "Did you write my name on this list?" Denial all around.

He had made the team. It wasn't varsity, but he did end up playing for the varsity team. He jokes that he was a starter. He got to tip the jump ball to a teammate. Then he was immediately taken out. Eventually he played more for his team and received numerous offers to play for several colleges.

I was inspired by his determination to never give up. It didn't matter that he didn't make the team two years in a row. It didn't matter that he only played to tip in the ball. He found he loved the game and wouldn't give up until he had accomplished his goals. He played professionally for 15 years before retiring.

If he can reach his goals and dreams without giving up, so can I. So can you.

So don't ever ever EVER give up.


  1. This is an excellent post! What an inspiration, knowing how hard he worked. I also love that it was the thing that wasn't easy to get into that became his ultimate dream. =] Thanks, Shari.

  2. How motivational to try and work at what you're NOT good at initially.

  3. Wow, I never knew that about him. How awesome. =) Never give up. *sigh* Good advice. Thanks Shari!

  4. I didn't know this about Thurl Bailey, Shari. Thanks for sharing this inspiring anecdote.

    I can't relate to the height (ha ha) but I can relate to everything else. I already admired him before this, now much more so.

    Hope you are enjoying the season! xoxo

  5. Inspiring story! Thanks for sharing.


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