Imagine this: A child with 4 brothers and 6 sisters, with no dad and not a lot of money. He lives in a run down old trailer park. He has to decide whether to go to school with his friends or play basketball on an organized team. Well, Once upon a time there lived two boys, Ramon Thigby and Gregory Clintonet. Ramon was a small Mexican boy who lived in a beat-up trailer with his 4 brothers and 6 sisters. His dad had run away when he was born, so it was just his mom left with the job of taking care of 11 children. Then there was Gregory, “Greg” they called him. He was a rich boy because his dad was the governor. He lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ramon lived in downtown Los Angeles where all he did all day was play with a little tiny basketball that his mom gave him for his golden birthday when he was 7 years old. Back then they didn’t have hoops like we have today.
They had wooden baskets that they would tie by strings to a telephone pole. On the other side of the country, Gregory was busy with an underwater chess tournament. He has a basketball court in his room that he got for a baby shower present from the President and his family. He had a personal trainer and practiced every other day. He was not bad for his age. Ramon, however could only play about once a week because there were kids at the hoop all the time. If he went there while those kids were there, they would make fun of him really bad. Ramon wasn’t as good as Gregory, but he did have a deeper desire to play the game. When Gregory reached fourth grade, he had the chance to play on a basketball team. He wasn’t as good in the leagues, because he hadn’t had practiced with a team before, let alone with someone guarding him.
When someone plays at home they don’t get a feel for what its like to try and shoot or When Ramon got to the fourth grade, he got his chance to play on an organized team. Nobody passed him the ball because whenever he got it, he would throw up an ugly shot or he would get the ball stolen from him. So, he was determined to do better, much better than he was playing at the present time. And he did, instead of only playing once a week he played every day. He faced Ramon got better and better and better, soon he was allowed to play with the older kids, but he still was not as good as the older kids he played with. (Remember that these two don’t know each other yet, there just being compared Fifth grade basketball season–a time of truth for Ramon. Now he can test himself to see if he really got better or not.
A time to play smart basketball. That year, his 5th grade season, Ramon had a woman for a coach. She was 41/2 feet tall and very nice. Her name was Mrs. Rosarita. She really knew her basketball. He had a lot of fun that season, as did Gregory. Now we move up to higher stages, “select” basketball. Gregory succeeded very high, with a season average of 15.4 points per game, and started for his team. Ramon, however, did a lot better but wasn’t as good as Gregory, maintaining only 9.7 points per game average, and did not get to start for his team. Life was getting nicer for the poor boy. On the other side of the country, Greg and his family were having rough times. Their house caught on fire and burned down. To top it all off, they went 4th scale bankruptcy. Later that season, Ramon and his team went to a big tournament.
It was the Southern California Orange Tournament of junior stars. After a rocky start, Ramon’s team starts winning. Actually, they made it to the final game. There was a short break between each game played. So right before the final game Ramon used his free time to run and get a drink at the pop stand. On his way, he looked down and saw what appeared to be a ticket to something. He bent down and picked it up. The ticket was numbered 21112. Not sure what it was, he just slipped it into his sock. Before long it was game time. At the tip-off Ramon got the ball and dribbled immediately toward his basket. On the way, though, he was fouled. He was tripped really bad. It was so bad that it twisted his ankle and Mrs. Rosarita had to take him out of the game to ice his foot.
So there sat Ramon on the bench during one of the most thrilling games of his life. It was really lousy to have to sit on the bench for such a big game! At halftime, his team was leading, but Ramon was mostly sad because he couldn’t play, due to his injury. During the halftime entertainment, there was a big drawing to see who would win a $15,000 prize. Ramon was paying much attention. He was just rubbing his sore ankle. As he rubbed, the ticket fell right out of his sock onto the floor. Everybody stared at it. Then everyone heard the announcement. “The winner is ticket number 21112.” It got real quiet. Ramon reached down and grabbed his ticket. “I won,” he said. “I’ve got ticket 21112”! After that, his sore ankle didn’t bother him so much anymore. They won the game and the championship, but Ramon was mostly glad that he had money to share with his poor family. He also bought his mom a car and got her a special license plate. You guessed it…number!