I Was the Team Joke

After a few practice drills, it was clear I was no longer the fastest and strongest guy on the court.
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Maybe the guys will decide that playing ball is more interesting than teasing me, I thought. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

I was wrong. For the next three weeks, the short jokes continued.

"Casbon, want me to get you a step stool to make those free throws a little easier for ya?"

"You should gel up your hair. That might add an inch."

"Hey, Little Cas, I can hoist you onto my shoulders if you want."

Finally, I'd reached my boiling point.

"I've had it," I vented to Scott one evening after practice. "I hate my life!" I yelled as I flung my gym bag across the driveway.

Scott's eyebrows shot up. "What's with you?" he asked.

"My teammates are such jerks," I snarled through gritted teeth. "You'd think they'd run out of putdowns, but no—every day they've got fresh material. I'm sick of it!" I sat down on my basketball and buried my face in my dirty, calloused hands.

"Remember last year?" I moaned. "I was the star of the team. Now I feel like such a loser."

"Hey, man, you're the same guy you were then."

"Yeah, that's the problem," I shot back. "I've stayed the same and everyone else changed for the better."

"So your teammates have a few inches on you," Scott stated, shrugging his shoulders. "What's the big deal?"

"Easy for you to say. You're not the one getting ripped on day after day!"

I was mad. Mad at my body for not growing. Mad at my parents for not providing me with better genes. Mad at God for giving me the sweet taste of stardom one year and then ripping it away from me the next.

"Why is God punishing me?" I shouted. "What did I do to deserve this?"

"Oh, gimme a break," Scott groaned. "We've been getting teased for one thing or another since we were first–graders."

"I knew I could count on my big brother for support," I said sarcastically.

He laughed. "Seriously, T, you shouldn't be blaming God. He's been great to you. Sure, you'll never rival Michael Jordan on the court, but if, academically, you had to go head–to–head with Air, you'd blow him away."

"Ya think so?" I said, a little surprised by my brother's compliment.

"Hey, don't get a swelled head or anything, but do you know how many guys on your team would trade their height in a heartbeat if they could have your great grades?"

"Well, maybe …"

"You take it for granted because studying comes easy to you, but not everyone is so lucky. A lot of us work really hard and still can't pull off decent grades."

It's true that I'd always done well in school and kind of took it for granted. I stood there for a moment, really quiet. I am the guy I am and I need to be satisfied with that, I thought. Sure, if I happened to grow in the next year or two, I definitely would be happy, but if not, well, maybe that's how God wanted it. Maybe he had a reason for making me this way … and who am I to knock God for his creation?

"Yeah, I guess I'm OK with the way I am," I finally admitted.

Scott leaned against the basketball goal, crossed his arms, and asked with a smirk, "So, T, seriously, you've gotten, what, like one B in your entire life?"

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