My Sports Hero: Not Kobe Bryant, Not LeBron James...Just My Uncle

John Louie RamosSenior Writer IJanuary 24, 2009

Men idolize greatness. We are bound to admire winners and forget about losers. Perhaps it's merely human nature.

The runner praises Bolt, as the footballer admires Favre. A boxer mimics Pacquiao, while the swimmers are inspired by Phelps.

Just like the runner, the footballer, the boxer, the swimmer, or any sports fan, I too have my own sports hero. He's not a professional who can score 81 points in a basketball game.

He's not a cancer survivor who who wins the Tour de France championship year after year. He's not good at baseball like Babe Ruth, "the Sultan of Swat."

He's just an ordinary person who made an extraordinary impact on my life. He's just my uncle. Plain and simple.

I was 12 years old when I first held a basketball. I was a late bloomer in the Philippines, a country where every father dreamt that someday his five or six-year-old son would be earning a paycheck as a professional ball player.

Back then, I played with eight-year-old kids because the bigger boys didn't want to play with me, or at least didn't want me on their team.

I lacked the speed, agility, stamina, and skills that shows promise.

During games, I was usually left on the bench. I only got to play on those rare occasions when my team was ahead or behind by a significant margin, and the contest's outcome was no longer in doubt.  

When I did get in the game, I was lucky to get any touches.  I began to doubt myself and lost confidence in my ability. However, I was fortunate because, despite my doubts, my uncle maintained an enduring belief in me.

I don't know if it's because of blood ties, but one thing is for sure: Faith in something bigger than you makes you bigger, and it was the big difference.

He's not an all-around excellent basketball player, but he taught me what he knows, and most of all he taught me to believe and to teach myself.

At early dawn when everyone's still asleep, I start to jog. When everyone's having their breakfast, I start my shooting practice. I was the first one on the basketball court and I also was the last one to leave.

I started to believe in myself at the same time people, especially my teammates, started to believe in me. I earned my playing time, game after game I improved. I had my moments. I became a member of our school's varsity team during my senior year of high school.

Through it all, my uncle was there sitting, watching me on the sidelines.

It's said that when people start to grow, their idols start to shrink. This is true.

I never realized that I had taken him for granted. Nonetheless, he remained silent. Through it all my uncle was there.

Come to think of it, it's about time to give credit to where credit is due, to my uncle, who has done great things in simple ways throughout my life.

He' my sports hero, not your average Kobe Bryant or your everyday LeBron James. He's just my uncle...well, forget about the "just." More appropriately, he's my uncle—a remarkable person, a good citizen, and a trustworthy individual.

The main reason I wrote this article was to give him the best gift ever. This article's for you to cherish and more birthdays to come.