To say that I have a passion to both play and watch sports would be an understatement. It was my dream growing up to become either a professional athlete or a sports broadcaster. I set my sites on becoming the best little baseball player anyone had ever seen. I received a lot support from both of my parents in my efforts to continually become a better athlete. I played lots of baseball, soccer, basketball and football. I realized that my passion really was with baseball, but playing the other sports kept me active, which was important for my parents because I had great skill at driving them crazy always wanting to be doing something.
Interestingly enough, one of the things that I also started to love was break dancing. This was not something I wanted others to know about at first so I kept a low profile. However, I continued to practice and with my brothers, we found something we could all do that brought us together. That said, my true passion would always take priority and that was playing sports. One of the reasons I pursued my athletic side was the fact that I saw my brothers get bullied and made fun of for not being “athletes” yet they were very talented in other things. That did not seem to matter as they continued to get harassed and in turn, I was often picked on, too. There were times I would run home crying after receiving a verbal bullying. There were also times I would cry in my room hearing the sadness of my brothers for being picked on so much. I felt so helpless and powerless. The one thing that kept me going was that I was a good little athlete and the other kids knew that so I received some respect.
I was very lucky to see much success playing little league baseball. Our team took first place a couple of times and I was a leader in many ways. I made the all-star team and we experienced some amazing success as a team. I felt I was on my way to becoming what I had dreamed of — a professional athlete. Little did I know that a move across the country would cause my life to change in many ways.
A couple of years later, my older brother came to me saying that he wanted to go enter a contest that was happening at a local mall. My brother had a passion for the performing arts, especially singing and dancing. I enjoyed dancing but could not carry a note if it was in my backpack. Thus, I was not about to go enter a competition that had to do anything with performing. My brother said that it would just be a fun experience and I could see the passion in his eyes. I inquired about what the performance consisted of. He explained that the hottest show at the time was “Puttin on the Hits.” I had seen it so my interest was sparked. This national TV show was a competition where contestants would lip sync a song. Along with the lip sync, they needed to perform and look like the person or group. It was capturing the attention of the nation and so they began to hold competitions all around the US to fill their show.
After much consideration, I decided to support my brother in his desire to participate in this little competition. See, one of the major things holding me back was the thought of being made fun of. I wanted to be known as a good athlete, not some performer. I was scared about what my friends would say, I was nervous that I would be made fun and I remembered how I felt when my brothers and I were made fun of before. I was not interested I experiencing that again. However, my love for my brother was stronger and so we began to practice.
The date of the competition came and we had practiced very had. I was so nervous. Part of the nerves were for the actual performance and the other part was the fear of what people were going to think of me. We arrived to the location and I was surprised to see the number of people there both to perform and watch. Now my nervousness was reaching new levels. The thought of leaving was very appealing but I knew we had to perform. Act after act performed and there were some good ones. The crowd was into it and our time to perform finally arrived. We took the stage and were spot on. We hit every beat and move. We felt pretty good about our performance. The producers of the show then sent the top 15 acts to Los Angles to pick the top two to be on the show. It was not long after that we received a call from the show and told we were one of the two selected to be on the show.
We were so excited but again, I was starting to realize that this was going to be on national television. That means people were going to see me, my friends were going to know and my only thought was “what are they going to think?” We began to once again practice like crazy to so we would be ready for our TV appearance.
We eventually flew to LA and spent our 10 days there. We had a wonderful time taping the show, getting to know the other contestants and soaking up the Hollywood experience. The night before our show taping, there was a competition for all the acts that were to be taped over a week’s period. We won that competition and I can clearly remember that winning first place felt exactly like what it felt like when my little league baseball team won first place. It was then I realized that it didn’t matter what others thought, if I would allow myself the opportunity to do those things that would bring me happiness, I could be empowered to achieve what I wanted.
I never was made fun for my performance on “Puttin on the Hits” and, in fact, have often received great respect for being on that show. That experience actually made me a better athlete because it gave me new found confidence. It also showed me that I loved to perform. I followed my passion for dance in the form of a hobby. I have now ensured that hip-hop dancing has been a part of my life. My boys and I enjoy sharing a love for dance and any chance we get to perform for others, we do. aped over a week’s period. We won that competition and I can clearly remember that winning first place felt exactly like what it felt like when my little league baseball team won first place. It was then I realized that it didn’t matter what others thought, if I would allow myself the opportunity to do those things that would bring me happiness, I could be empowered to achieve what I wanted.
I am forever thankful for going through this experience, as it has helped to shape who I am. I am a firm believer that when we are empowered we can achieve success no matter what we want to do. I also know that others will find inspiration when you follow your heart. You will become a hero.