There are many reasons to want to invest in people but for me, when I see someone who is dedicated to what they do, I feel like they are people that I want around me and want to help them to reach their dreams. Simeon is one of those guys that I have met along the way. He impressed me one day when I saw him in the gym putting in some major work while the others in the gym were just messing around. I asked if I could grab boards for him while he was getting up shots. What I discovered is a guy who was on a mission. He had higher expectations of himself than others had of him. He wanted to prove not only to them but to himself that he could play basketball at a higher level. I told him that if he ever wanted to workout to hit me up. He took me up on my offer and four years later we enjoy a relationship where we know how to challenge each other to push harder to reach our goals. Watching him as a high school player and now having completed two years of playing college basketball, I am so proud of all the work that he has put in to get there. On a recent visit back to Naperville, I asked him to share with me what these last four years has meant to him. His response is one that caught me off guard but reminded me of why I mentor athletes. Here is what he had to say.....
"One of the most godly and Christ focused men I have ever met. Our relationship began in the summer of 2016 when he saw me shooting in the gym. His first thing he said to me and I’ll never forget this was “I know you can play ball because great players either shoot form shots or do ball handling when they warm up” and from there on out we just clicked. He gave me his number and I texted him about working out. So he says to me “when you wanna workout?” And I said “well I don’t have a car or anything and my parents never take me to the gym”. J rob said he would pick me up and take me home we just had to go early so he’s on time for work. So I was like “screw it let’s just wake up at 4 am!”. Long story short we did that for a whole summer.
The best part wasn’t having a workout buddy. He became a father figure to me. He always asked me about my faith and made sure I was keeping in my word, then on top of all that he was training me. I’ll forever call this man “pops” because he really was dad for me. He didn’t have to pick me up at 4 am and take me home at 7 am then go work a 12 hour shift. He did it out of love. I never said any of this to him because I knew he would cry lol, and I probably would too because if I saw him cry I woulda cried haha.
But I wouldn’t be the man I am today without J Rob man. True definition of a mentor and a man of God. I miss him everyday now that’s he’s moved to Minneapolis. But I know what he’s doing down there is the Lords work, and that’s what us as believers are here to do. Love you J rob, and if you are in need of a great spiritual mentor and life mentor, this is the guy you wanna get in touch with. Love you pops!!
From the 5 am workouts to the countless numbers of conversations through the years about faith, basketball and life, I have enjoyed the time we have had together and look forward to more as he moves on to the next stage in his collegiate basketball career. So what is the biggest lesson I have learned through our mentoring relationship?
When it comes to mentoring, the lessons in life are learned by both participants. Mentoring is a two way street. The lessons that Simeon has taught me has made me a better man and mentor. Most of us see mentoring as one person downloading information to another. In 25 plus years of mentoring, I have learned that the most effective mentors are those that are open to learning from those that they invest in. When the heart to learn as much as you teach is modeled, what you get are two people who become "Better Together".
When it comes to Simeon, I know that he has the same heart as I do to invest those around him and have watched the influence he has had with teammates and friends. It's going to be so much fun to see how he pays it forward to those that are out to prove the doubters wrong and follow their dreams just like him. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story!
Love you son!
Stay Forever Strong!