The Exemplary Behavior of #19

rudy:basketball:19

This story mirrors A Death in the Family.

Rudy was seventeen.
A senior in high school.
Engaged in the game of basketball.
With his teammates.
When he was considered the best player.
The shining star.
The guy the crowd came to watch.
He seemed to make the game that much more exciting.

That was also the year that Rudy’s dad died.

His team had been practicing for upcoming games.
They would compete with other high school teams in the national tournament.
Hoping to score their way to the top.
As champions.

Rudy wanted to be part of his considered underdogs team.
To prove to everyone that they had what it took to win.
Win big.
He was the captain of his basketball team.
The star player.

His dad was buried.
The same night Rudy’s basketball team played.
Without him.
And lost.
Their first game in the country’s national tournament.

Yet, Rudy wasn’t thinking of the game.
He felt numb.
He couldn’t think.
About anything.
Not yet.
Not when his deceased father was overpowering his thoughts.

But, a few days later.
As his mind began to settle down.
As he began to accept the fact that his father was gone.
He forced himself to think about other things.
Including the fact that his basketball team was competing.
In an event he felt he needed to participate in.
And, to help ease his grief.

Back in his school town.
He wanted to attend the girls’ game.
To support them.
Where a crowd of people who knew him would be gathered.
Watching the sport with enthusiasm.

As he walked towards the basketball arena to watch the girls’ play.
He saw his rival team standing outside.
Near the entrance.
Guys he knew.
From a previous school.
Guys he liked.
Was still friends with.

They hugged him.
Consoled him.

When Rudy walked with his head down.
Into the auditorium at San Antonio Academy.
His high school.
To watch the game.
Surprisingly, the crowd of fans began to chant.
For Rudy.
“Largo! Largo! Largo!” they screamed.
Rudy’s tall nickname.
Number 19 was back. The star.

Weeks later.
The final championship game was a must-see event.
The crowd cheered as they watched Rudy.
And his teammates.
Play skillfully.

And jeered.
When they believed the ref made some bad calls.
Which resulted in three key players.
Including Rudy.
To be benched during the remainder of the game.

In the end.
Sadly.
San Antonio lost that evening.
Trailing behind on the scoreboard.
Against their opponents.

Rudy’s previous coach.
Led the opposing team to victory that night.
Wanted to give the trophy to Rudy’s team.
Felt his team earned it even though the final score told otherwise.
“You deserve it,” he told Rudy.
“No, we won’t accept it. Your team won on the floor.”

He and his teammates walked away empty handed.

Days later.
At the senior graduation ceremony.
Coach spoke quite a bit about Rudy.
Praised him.

Rudy cried.
That’s all he could do.
Was cry.

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