The Arrival Of Spring

By Tony Price
Updated: April 21, 2009

BOSTON — The spring season is finally upon us, time to put away the winter coat, stock up on the antihistamines, open the windows for some much needed fresh air, watch a few baseball and softball games and time to reflect on my progress toward those New Years’ resolutions.

Recently I attended an event that recognized individuals and corporations that gave of their time and resources to support a program that focuses on encouraging young people in the fifth grade to reach for their full potential.

One of the speakers who addressed the gathering shared his personal testimony about how it was a teacher that was instrumental in his life as a child and helped him become the success story he represents today.

His words inspired me to reflect on whom that “Unsung Hero” was that influenced me at a critical point of my childhood. For me that person was a coach named T-Bone.

He was a tall, slim, dark-skinned young man who spoke with a soft tone — a few decibels above a whisper — that my teammates and I thought was so cool.

T-Bone always came to the game clean, well dressed and he had a way of motivating us without yelling or using abusive language. He was the epitome of cool and I admired him as a role model.

I was a lanky 13-year-old athlete who just started to pick up the game of basketball after segueing from my first love of baseball. I decided to join a local league at the urging of a classmate who happened to be the best player in the league.

He noticed my height and convinced me to sign up.

The details of my first game are still vivid, I was nervous to say the least, as I knew my skills were not up to the level of some of the players in the league.

I didn’t possess an arsenal of ball handling wizardry such as a killer crossover, behind the back or between the leg dribble that would wow you and in the hood if you don’t have game everyone will let you know about it.

But for some reason T-Bone saw something in me and started me for the game. I did not score a basket, but I did defend, rebound and made some great passes to help the team to victory.

As the season progressed, I settled into my role, my stats were hardly anything to brag about, but I quietly came to the game, played within myself and left, we went undefeated that season and won the championship.

It helped that we had the best player in the league on our team, who surprisingly was very unselfish. T-Bone was great at keeping the focus on the team and not just one player. He somehow convinced us all that we had an important role.

T-Bone was the perfect coach for me at that time, as I was just coming from an abusive relationship with a former baseball league coach who kicked me off the all-star team in my last season of Little League.

This coach was the antithesis of T-Bone, and took my confidence. At the conclusion of the championship game Bone took us to a local pizzeria to celebrate.

It was here that he made his biggest deposit into my life, as he dole out the accolades — MVP, defensive player and so on. He announced that he had a special award to issue the “Unsung Hero” .

To paraphrase T-Bone it was like the MVP, and he began to describe the characteristics, played hard, sacrificed personal stats, efforts often over looked, etc he concluded by saying the award goes to Tony Price.

I was both dumbfounded and elated as my teammates and I didn’t really know what the award meant, but I do remember catching the words it was like the MVP and that’s all I needed to feel 10 feet tall.

I raced back home to the housing projects to share the good news with my mom. From that day on there was no stopping me, T-Bone made me a believer.

Fortunately I had the chance years later to thank him. Who was that unsung person in your life? Are they still alive? Have you ever thanked them?

Now is the perfect time for some spring cleaning.