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  • Writer's pictureHenery X (long)

The Protégé

A short story

When we do it for the love, it’ll always be done to the best of our ability. — Henery X

The Protégé

2022, Henery X ©

Seventeen-year-old Karter King has loved the game of basketball ever since he could comprehend. When he was younger, he and his father used to watch NBA and College games, religiously. At six years old, he told his father that he was going to be greater than any NBA player who has ever played.

Summer, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Karter's parents allowed him to take part in a local basketball camp. Seeing playing the game was all he wanted to do in his spare time. The camp in question was named Game On, LLC, and was founded by Jonathan “Easy” Royalty, Senior.

Twenty-five-year-old Jonathan was a hero of Karter’s, so much so he vowed to be his greatest protégé ever. Jonathan had graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in business. But getting a business degree wasn’t his most significant accomplishment pertaining to the prestigious university in question. During his four-year tenure, he led the Division One men’s basketball team to four National Championships. Because of this remarkable feat, every NBA team wanted his services. But he declined all offers and started Game On, LLC, which would end up being one of the best decisions of his young life.

“Come on, Double K. You got this,” Jonathan said. He and Karter were running laps inside The Jungle, which was the name of the outdoor basketball court where Jonathan conducted his successful business.

“I’m with you, Easy,” Karter said.

“You’re gonna need to build up yo’ stamina. One mo’ lap and we’ll have done twenty.”

“I’m with you, Easy.”

Because of Karter’s commitment earlier on, Jonathan agreed to spend hours of his free time helping him to be his best.

“Alright, Double K. Grab the ball and let’z practice some shootin’ drillz.”

Karter ran over and grabbed the basketball and then back over to Jonathan. He bounced the basketball over to his mentor, who was standing next to the rim. Karter then ran to certain spots on the court. Once he reached his destination, Jonathan bounced him the basketball and immediately after the ball touched his hands, Karter would shoot a jump shot.

“That’s right, Double K. I see you’ve been workin’ on yo’ form,” Jonathan said proudly.

“Yes, Sir! I never want you to have any regrets about investing your time and energy in my cause.”

“I’d never thank like that, my brotha. I look forward to our time spent together. You remind me of me. Your hunger is clear. I felt you needed what you came for that firs’ day, over three yearz ago.”

After several more intense basketball drills, the two young men retired to one of three spacious bleachers present.

“So, Double K. You plan on goin’ to the NBA?” Jonathan was looking at Karter.

Karter looked Jonathan in his eyes, “No, Sir. I have plans on taking the path you laid out, and for the same reason.”

“You mean so you can spend quality time with those you luv, anytime you like?”

“That, and so I can enlighten my peers on much more than the game. Easy, you’ve helped so many youngsters to consider other options outside of sports. I want to have that same type of influence.”

“My goal was to offer you all what you wanted, which was an opportunity to be the best playerz you could be. An’ I in turn wanted to give you what I felt you needed, which was my perspective on the meanin’ of life.”

“How did you get so wise, Easy? I mean, I know you had to listen to what was being shared with you.”

“That’s part of it, my beloved brotha. The other part was that I had to become a livin’ example of the shared wisdom. Knowin’ but not applyin’ what you know is worse than knowin’ nothin’ at all. Be quick to give, an’ slow to take. Make yo’ word yo’ bond. An’ lastly, alwayz show luv an’ respect.”

“See, I want to drop jewels like that.”

Jonathan chuckled, “You’re gonna be better at this than I ever was, Double K.”

“Coming from you, that means a lot, Easy,” Karter smiled at Jonathan, who smiled back and gave him a fist bump.

“Now, let’z go get somethin’ to eat… my treat,” Jonathan said.

Spring, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Karter King and his high school varsity basketball teammates were about to claim their third consecutive state championship. The bulk of the team’s success was because of Karter’s performance, which left him the number one high school player in the country. His unselfish play defined what it meant to be a champion. He had all the top universities knocking on his parent’s front door his sophomore year. But the University of Michigan was the only placed he longed to be.

Time had elapsed and Karter and his teammates were celebrating their victory, as were all those who had been rooting for them to win, which included Jonathan, who was sitting on the player’s bench, thanks to the head coach.

Karter ran up to Jonathan, who was standing and clapping.

“Thank you, Easy.” Karter said.

“You’re welcome, Double K. I’m proud of you fo’ not givin’ up on yo’self.”

The two men hugged one another.

The end.

What are you willing to sacrifice to live your dreams? If it’s not everything that has nothing to do with the journey, then your dreams will more than likely remain just that… dreams.

This is the third of ten short stories I’m writing and that will make up a book meant to inspire the inner child in us all. The main characters will all be under the age of eighteen, showing that there’s no age requirement when it comes to living dreams. I want the stories of these youngsters to encourage the elders who happen to read them because again, there’s no age requirement when it comes to living dreams.

Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge my offering.

Remember. I’m not here to convince you to believe. I’m here to offer you something else to consider.

May we never lose our desire to outdo what we’ve already done.

Peace, Love, and the utmost Respect.

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