“With the first pick in the 2016 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Jaxon Jones from Elgin, Texas, and the University of Texas as their power forward.” It took a second or two for my brain to process what I heard. Did they just say my name, or am I imagining it? It is every little boy’s dream to grow up and become a professional athlete, and to have his family watch him on television and play in front of an arena of fans. An entire lifetime of dreams was coming true in a couple of seconds. The anxiety of possibly not getting drafted tonight quickly turned into the most incredible excitement I ever felt.
The adrenaline rushing through my body at this moment was off the charts. The feeling was more potent than any energy drink on the market. As luck would have it, all of my wishes came true at once. A small-town Texas farm boy was picked first in the NBA draft. Did I fall asleep waiting for the draft to start? Was I going to wake up all of a sudden and realize I was dreaming? I sure hope not! I wanted to take in the moment and savor it, but the moment felt like an out of body experience. It was moving too fast!
Earlier in the day, my parents gave me a custom, navy blue pinstripe suit for the occasion with brown oxford dress shoes. I wore a crisp white shirt and a dark blue tie with white and red diagonal stripes and a brown leather belt with a gold belt buckle adorned with a Texas longhorn. They took care of every detail. I insisted I was fine buying a store-bought suit, but my parents insisted on having a suit made for such a momentous occasion. They felt I should look my best for my big day so I could represent Texas properly. The suit fit like a glove, and not only was it sharp, but it was high-quality material paired with fine craftsmanship. It was considerably different from my everyday attire, which consisted of jeans, tee-shirt, and Timberland boots or my white and orange basketball uniform at the University of Texas. I felt a little out of my comfort zone, but I had to admit the suit gave me swag. When I wore it, I walked with confidence and stood out from the crowd, like Al Pacino in Scarface. Okay, maybe the comparison is a little far-fetched, but damn I never looked so good. Mom helped me with my tie and smiled up at me with such a loving look in her eyes. She always had my back and loved me no matter what the circumstance. Even if I failed at something, I could count on her to say at least I tried my best, and to her, I was the best. It was nice to have the one person in your corner who was your number one fan, a friend, partner in crime, and a shoulder to cry on, all in one. His mother’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Jaxon, you look so handsome. Dad and I are so proud of your accomplishments. It is truly amazing that you made it here today. For most people, this is just something in a dream which never becomes a reality. Don’t fool yourself, though, because you worked so hard to be here today and deserve to be among the best draft picks. You have a brighter future ahead of you in basketball than the family farming business. As much as you enjoyed the work, money pays the bills. We wanted you to choose in your career instead of the pressure of carrying on the family business. Dad and I do not want to watch you struggle in a business where it is hard to earn money. You have such drive and determination to succeed. This is your time to shine and get paid for something you love to do. There are no words to express how happy you have made us both. We are proud of the man standing in front of us. You cannot forget where you came from, though. Stay humble and kind, and make sure fame does not spoil you. Or else you will have to deal with me. Remember, you deserve this. I love you so much!!”
She was crying and laughing at the same time and hugging me. She kissed my cheek and then wiped off the lipstick. My mom was so sentimental and proud of her only child. I could never do any wrong in her eyes. She always saw the positive side of life, and I would still be her baby no matter how old I became.
“Okay, mom, watch the threads,” I said, laughing. “I love you too and thank you for everything. None of this would be possible without the support of you and dad. It means the world to me.” I started choking up, and dad came to the rescue.
He pulled me in for a hug and slapped me on the back. He said, “Son, we love you and are damn proud. I agree with everything your mother said. This is a huge deal today. I am sure you are overwhelmed, but take a second to enjoy the moment and take it all in. You will get picked by a team today. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Try your best, but most of all, love what you do. It is not worth it if you do not have a passion for it. This is a huge accomplishment, and a day you will never forget. Hell, I feel like I am walking around in a dream. Not many people get the opportunity to play in the NBA. Keep it real, and I better not see you on television acting like you are entitled because you are making the big bucks. If you let the fame go to your head, it will all come tumbling down, and then I would have no choice but to whoop your butt.” He had to get all tough guy with me so his emotions would not get the best of him.
I said, “Thank you both. Today is as much your day as it is mine. You were both great role models and gave me the love and support I needed. You stuck with me through good times and bad. I can always count on you both to be there for me. I love you both.”
My parents had given up so much for me to be here. For years, they made a living farming. Their hard work made it possible for me to go to college. They did the best they could and saved as much money as possible. It was a tough business, and every year it was harder to earn a decent living. Hard work and actual blood, sweat, and tears went into farming. After much thought, they sold the farm recently to a developer who bought the six acres of land to build townhouses. For now, my parents were looking to rent a condominium in Austin until they found a new home to start the next chapter of their lives together. They had until September 1st to move. They wanted to take their time exploring different areas to find the perfect place to live. I hoped to return the favor one day by doing something for them to show my appreciation.