That’s TJ “Ice Man” Brown and Jonathan “Lo Lo” Lobaugh. They are best friends for life.
Played basketball the other day with Jon and TJ at the YMCA. They are seniors at Midland High School, and both played varsity basketball this year together. They shot for captains. Jon hit the first three and TJ followed with his. Jon has one of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. When he is in the zone, you cannot help but smile at his form and confidence. He is also one of the most loyal friends and best teammate encouragers I have ever met; especially when the absolute worst scenario is playing out, or he finds himself in the midst of a difficult mess. His greatest strength is being positive, and he has a way of inspiring players and coaches to greatness, no matter the situation; and this is not just a proud father talking it is the honest to God truth. We have often said to him, “We wished we had a friend like you in high school.” TJ’s basketball game is confident, strong, and he is fun to watch play. He is a play maker, and he’s so good he signed with Abilene Christian University before basketball got started this past year. TJ stopped Jon during their workout on the court, as if lost in thought like TJ had been suddenly touched by a basketball muse, and said, “Hard work is always greater than talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” What a gift.
Jon picked first and chose his dad. I began making wise-cracking, self-degrading comments, “I’m sure Jon’s probably thinking, ‘Well that was nice of me to pick my old man, but I’ve given that game away,’” There were some courtesy laughs. Not from Jon. Being the shortest guy on the court, and not having touched the ball in over four months, confidence was waning from the old man to produce anything, and I didn’t want to embarrass Jon. His focus on me was steady and certain, the kind of seriousness from an athlete that was saying with his eyes, “Let’s get this party started, ‘cuz we about to open a can of whoop ass, and we don’t anyone to miss out on the fun!” It startled me, and got me thinking that we could actually win. We were down by nine, and then we were tied (all of Jon’s shots) and I started to play better and stronger and faster. We lost the game, and this old man came away with something huge on the court; confidence. What a gift.
Mentioning to Jon on the way home, “Don’t ever want to be in the way on the court with you and your friends, and if your they ever think it’s a little weird that your old man is ‘hanging around’ just say the word, Jon,” was disappointing to him. His vision was not being fully understood. He was not embarrassed. He chose his dad because he loved me and believed in me. He was encouraged by the all of the healthy exercise producing a better me and he said, “Dad, your inspiring to all my friends, they look at you and say to me, ‘Jon, your dad’s a beast!’” What a gift.
Your actions are inspiring people all around you by the healthy wiry you that is coming into full focus in the eyes of those around you. Good for you. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love myself.” Really, go ahead and do it. Give yourself a huge hug, and feel your arms going around a leaner you (whoo hoo), and say deeply and profoundly to yourself, “I love myself.” What a gift!Dr. Tom Lobaugh