In the last few years, the star athletes we have known have been a let-down. Tiger Woods was cheating on his wife. A-Rod and countless others were taking steroids. Kobe Bryant was accused of rape. It is hard, when you are raising kids who are interested in sports, to watch them look up to these men, who so often wind up letting us down.
Kenny Anderson, a college basketball star turned NBA pro, was by comparison a minor disappointment. His NBA career was solid, by not spectacular. But along the way his life took a few bad turns. There were seven kids, by five different women. His mother died. And when it was all over, Anderson found that he has squandered his $67 million dollars of career earnings.
Its what he did next that made him turn out to be one of the better athlete role models our kids will ever know.Having gained custody of his youngest son, Anderson decided to return to college. As George Vescey reports in his excellent piece on Anderson in the New York Times, Anderson will graduate this weekend with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership—and a new lease on life, 19 years after he left college for the first time.
“My son sees me with books in my knapsack and he says, You’re 39 years old, you’re still going to school?’ ” Anderson told Vescey.
Some people will see in Anderson’s success an object lesson in the importance of second chances. But what our kids can learn from the story of an athlete like Kenny Anderson isn’t that it is important to take an opportunity when it comes across your path—its that its important to point your path in the direction of new opportunities. And that’s exactly what Kenny Anderson did.