People have opportunities everyday to do one of two things -- the right or the wrong. Should I run this yellow light? Should I help that lady with her groceries? Should I understand that some things are more important than just winning a game?
The last question brings us to a high school basketball game between a team in Milwaukee and a team from Illinois, playing an otherwise meaningless basketball game to us in the "national" media. The reason this game was important is because one team decided to do something more important than the game. They acted as humans, being there for another human, and that is where a heartwarming story was made.
It was February 7, and 6-foot-2 forward Johntell Franklin wasn't getting ready for the night's game, he was taking a college entrance exam for the ACT. He was also about to find out his 39-year-old mother had lost her five-year battle with cancer. Franklin was a captain on Aaron Womack Jr.'s basketball team and when the coach heard the news that Carlitha had passed, he thought about canceling the game.
"He said, 'No, tell the guys to go out and do their best,' " the coach said. "I told him we would, and I went back to school."
I guess that wasn't enough for Johntell, who ended up showing up to the game in the second quarter ready to play the game he loved. "I knew my Mom would have wanted me to play. She was always proud of me playing basketball," Franklin said after the game.
Here is where the rules took a turn for the worse. You can't suit up for a game when you aren't on the depth chart and Womack had left Johntell off the roster because he figured the senior wouldn't be in attendance. His mother just died. Who is thinking about basketball at a time like that?
The referees, who can only be faulted for following the rules just a bit too closely, administered a technical foul to Milwaukee Madison while DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman's grabbed his team in a huddle.
Darius McNeal, a senior point guard, was asked to shoot the two free throws because of the rule infraction and he went out to the foul line like a competitor is asked to do. What wasn't expected was where the shots ended up. McNeal tossed both about two feet in front of him, letting the ball roll towards the baseline, miles away from swooshing any net in the arena.
"I did it for the guy who lost his mom," McNeal said. "It was the right thing to do."
That it was, kiddo. That is surely was.