O.J. SIMPSON (AP Photo/File)
by Aubrey Bruce
Hey guys and dolls. Happy Mothers’ Day to you all.
Now I always hear the loud and clear message of mothers who are forced to wear the hats of both parents when for whatever reason the absentee fathers are not on the scene.
I am also here to point out that there are a few fathers out there that don kitchen aprons and braid their daughters’ hair when mothers are not part of the family dynamic.
By the way, the only non-athletes that I will include in this communiqué are Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler.
Let’s begin with O.J. Simpson an African American athlete who a significant percentage of White America swears is the great, great, great, (and many more times removed) gre……..at grandson of the aforementioned Genghis Khan and a direct descendant of Satan.
Whatever theories may exist about the genealogy of Simpson well let’s just say they remain just that.
We do know that Simpson was born July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, CA’ the son of Eunice Durden Simpson and Jimmy Lee Simpson.
What makes his athletic accomplishments so incredible is the fact that as a child, Simpson developed rickets and wore braces (his mother made home-made braces with a bar) on his legs until the age of five.
Now combine this scenario with the fact that his parents separated in 1952. Now birthing and rearing a physically challenged child by a single mom in any era is daunting but being an African American mother having a handicapped child in addition to facing medical, economic and socially challenging circumstances simultaneously in itself had to daunting and at best uncertain in regards to the outcome.
After all that his mother did just to insure that the “Juice” lived an ordinary life, he turned out to do extraordinarily good and bad things.
This is for all of you young mothers out there. No matter how early and thoroughly you may train a child, there are social and psychological influences both covert and overt that may wield more impact than one could ever suspect.
There had to be a certain amount of angst and uncertainty as far as the confidence of young O.J and his mother in regards to him just functioning as a normal child not even considering a potential athletic career.
Can’t you hear his mom trying to instill a basic confidence in him regarding just walking every day? “O.J you can do it, just walk a little farther, I know you can do it, it may be painful but you are going to be alright.”
In spite of all of the odds; a mother’s love surely kept the faith. Also poor Black folks were nutritionally as well as economically deprived because rickets historically has been associated with seamen who were deprived of vitamin C during extended voyages at sea.
Muhammad Ali is another icon that jumps out at me when it comes to celebrating the sanctity of motherhood.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky to Odessa O’Grady Clay and Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
We can all be reasonably sure that at a young age young Cassius Clay, (his pre Muslim) name probably did not suffer from a severe lack of confidence nor did he seriously listen to anyone else but himself. However that may have been a good thing. As a result, making his own decisions and marching to a different drum beat sculpted him into the man that he was.
I can imagine his mom asking him the question;” Cassius, what are you thinking about?” I can also envision his response. “Mama I Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it. Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If not pretend you are. What you are thinking is what you are becoming. Don’t count the days, make the days count. What keeps me going is goals. I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want. Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, then they can sure make something out of you. Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”
I think that it would be hard to get a word in with Muhammad Ali at any age, by anyone. The Hitler and Khan thing at the beginning was just a tease. My point was and continues to be that whether we are athletes, fans of sport or a hybrid of both we can make the lives of those around better and it is more often than not that we can do so when we draw from the voices and wisdom that our mothers lend to us as we travel the road of eternity.
In the early 1970s when I was struggling to be published I considered giving up. One particular day I called my mother whining. She said; “Peanut be like Job (jobe) wait on your change.” From that day forward I focused on me and not my circumstances. The rest is history, I miss you Ma.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741
Your comments are welcome.
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