As we age the things we value in life change. Much of what we thought was important as teenagers becomes meaningless as the years pass and we learn to treasure what really matters. Father time teaches us that nothing is more important than family, that one true friend is worth more than a thousand acquaintances, and that honesty and loyalty will outlast beauty and fame.
Russell Westbrook’s passion for the game drew my attention, but it was some years later before I became a fan. That day came when I heard the whole story about Russ’ friend, Khelcey Barr:
Unfortunately, that is the shortened version. I originally heard the story in an interview Russell did during the 2012 NBA Finals and the part of the story that resonated most was about the chores.
In the interview I heard that day, Russell revealed there was a rule that Khelcey couldn’t go play ball until he finished his chores and for years before he passed, Russ would pitch in and help Khelsey finish up so they could go to the court. That he continued after his friend died says more about his character than anything he will ever do on the hardwood.
Who can say what may have happened had Westbrook not taken on those duties. The death of a child has destroyed families. However, Russell’s simple, yet profound actions helped the grieving Barr family maintain perspective, while keeping Khelcey’s memory alive and allowing those he left behind to move forward in a positive manner.
I can only imagine the strength it took for a sixteen-year-old who was deep in mourning himself to walk across that street and face that devastating sadness every day. That is why I bristle when some pundit calls Westbrook selfish. Selfish people don’t do selfless acts, especially ones of that magnitude.
I am not a fan of Russell Westbrook because of the player he is, I am a fan because of the man that he is.
Congrats Papa Russ. You’re going to be a great Dad.