Venus & Serena Williams
Does anyone want to take a guess at what all the people on this list have in common? How many of the names do you recognize? In my opinion, each and every one of them is worth knowing about. So before we get to the obvious ones at the end, let’s look at who we have here.
Nyjah is a skateboarder. He was born in California, raised in Puerto Rico. He has won more prize money for skateboarding than anyone else in history.
Isiah is still a young kid with a diverse set of interests. He plays football (both American and real), runs track, swims, surfs, and skateboards. He is probably best known for wrestling. In 2017, at 10 years old, he had a wrestling season record of 27-12. In 2015 ESPN did a spot about him called “No Excuses”. Why? Isiah has no legs.
Eliud likes to run. He is Kenyan and they always seem to produce some of the best long distance runners in the world, but even here he rises to the top. He has times that mark him ass the 12th fastest ever at the 3000m, and the 4th fastest at the 5000m, but it is in running marathons that he is at his best. He has 3 Olympic medals, 6 World Marathon golds, and the fastest marathon time ever.
Ambreen Sadiq is a boxer. For a while, she was the UK national champion and now she owns a business teaching other young women to box. Although her immediate family is supportive, her Pakistani extended family has strongly opposed her career. Apparently, she does not dress and act like a good Muslim woman should and she is bringing shame on her family and community.
Charlie Jabaley is a CEO and a motivational speaker. He is also an Ironman athlete. He also became a vegan and lost 120 pounds en route to becoming that Ironman athlete. Of course, this was also after defeating a life-threatening brain tumor.
Davies was born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Ghana. At five, his family was admitted into Canada and he was given a new lease on life. Alphonso fell in love with football and became one of the best in Canada. He now plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps and also for the Canadian national team (where he became a citizen in 2017).
Shaquem was born two minutes after his twin brother Shaquill. He was born with amniotic band syndrome that prevented the fingers on his left hand from developing. At four years old his parents found him trying to cut off his fingers to stop their pain. The next day his hand was amputated. While that made being an athlete harder, it did not make it impossible. He went to UCF with full American football scholarship, was drafted, and is now a starter for the Seahawks.
Of course, I am assuming that you all know who Lebron James, Venus, and Serena Williams are. So what do they all have in common? Let’s see…
I do not know about you, but my social media has been blowing up about this new commercial. The whole “respect the flag vs police brutality” has been given a new spin on the propaganda merry-go-round as people start burning their Nike gear and complaining that “he hasn’t sacrificed anything”.
I’m sorry, but I love this video. It shows kids and adults from various backgrounds who have dreamed immensely big and worked incredibly hard to become great at what they love, often in spite of what seemed insurmountable obstacles. These athletes encourage motivate and inspire, and not just with regards to sports. As the commercial says, “Don’t just become the best basketball player on the planet… be bigger than basketball.” As a Nike commercial, this is obviously about sports, but even more, it is about life.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” This is the line that most people take offense at. Is this because it is so much easier to point the finger than it is to examine our own lives? Instead of asking, “What has CK sacrificed?” What if we asked, “What do I believe? How passionately do I believe it? What am I willing to sacrifice to see it come true?” The problem is, that becomes quite uncomfortable very quickly. It is easy for me to sit on my couch, watch my Netflix, scroll through my Facebook and Instagram, and criticize others who have taken a stand by taking a knee. It is much harder to embrace a cause so deeply that I will cancel my Netflix, get off my couch or out from behind my desk, and then go live a life worth emulating.
The commercial ends, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they are crazy enough?” What are your dreams? What are my dreams? How crazy are they? Do we dare to dream bigger? Do we dare to do the work it will take to make those dreams become reality?