My Mentoring Story (A Series by Friends for Youth Staff)

Jonathan's Story.

Ken was my friend Kyle’s father. He took me and Kyle to practice basketball at a church gym on weekend nights. There he taught me to keep my wrist extended after my shot, to always be down the court first, and to only give up on the ball when it had made it through the net. He had a very calibrated way of speaking that kept you rapt with attentiveness. “Jonathan,” he’d say with a long breath, “you look like a chicken with your elbow out like that. Keep it straight. Follow through.”

At Kyle’s house we played a lot of board games. Ken would sometimes play with us. We played chess, Stratego, Risk, checkers and Monopoly. As with basketball, his lesson around these games was to follow through. If you made a move in chess, it wasn’t for an instant payoff. Rather, it was part of a larger plan that you were trying to execute.

Ken was my mentor for many years and I never realized it. He was the father of my friend, my basketball coach, an intellectual pontificator and a strategic consultant. He was a lawyer, a former football player and he hailed from the South side of Chicago. But what I remember most is that he taught me to follow through.


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