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The Art of Giving

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As a winning member of his three-person team in the Slam Jam Tournament, the boy leaped in excitement after receiving the coveted prize: a leather, adult-sized basketball, fully pumped. Gazing at the reward which signified his efforts in the competition, the boy couldn’t wipe the expansive grin off of his face. Grasping the ball tightly, a feeling of self-accomplishment immersed him. As the only item he had bearing his name, the basketball granted the boy with a sense of self-worth and pride.
As weeks passed, the basketball received the most notice and interest at home, becoming practically a brother-figure for the boy. When strolling down sidewalks or visiting friends down the street, the boy was always seen accompanied by his round, leather friend. During biweekly visits to the local hospital, where the boy’s brother laid comatose, the ball served as an uplifting guest. The brothers’ love for the game of basketball served as a needed connection in a now silent relationship.
Two months after the tournament, the boy’s brother was removed from life support. Following a tear-filled funeral ceremony, the most intimately-connected guests traveled to the gravesite to view the burial. As each of his surrounding family members proceeded to place their most prized possessions in the casket as a dedication to the deceased, the boy was at a loss of what cherished item in his possession to offer. Attempting to recall any tangible item bearing his name, the boy hung his head in defeat, experiencing a sense of worthlessness and insignificance. Staring aimlessly at the ground, the boy see through the corner of his eye the round, leather basketball resting in his hands. Eyes widening, the boy knew immediately what item of intrinsic value to honor in commemoration of his beloved brother. Stumbling to put words into sentences, the boy bade farewell to his two best friends with five simple words: “It was short, but fun.”
Hearing this story through the words of the boy’s mother, I recognized that the seemingly ordinary sports ball experienced a significant status change when given to a child devoid of any self-value or self-worth. Unbeknownst to me, one simple prize commemorating a child’s efforts can alter that child’s self-reflection in unparallel ways. Through this story, I have gained a newfound perspective on one’s potential to change the lives of others for the better: offering one’s gifts to others, may it be tangible or intangible, allows the receiver to bestow his/her gifts upon another, and then another. Thus, a circle of giving and receiving connects and ennobles a community.





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