Redemption - The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. Reading this definition and saying I found redemption in this story may be an exaggeration. I can’t argue that it isn’t. What I can argue, is that I regained my pride.
The entire car ride home from our game we’d been talking trash to one another. Even before and during our game, I couldn’t stop reminding Hunter about the loss he was about to take. Finally, the car pulled into his driveway. We both got out of the car, stormed through the front door, and sprinted up to his room. Hunter tossed me a controller and turned on the xbox. I was prepared. The game began and the trash talking intensified.
“You’re trash bro.”
“Shut up, you’re trash.”
“Okay, tell that to James Harden’s triple double”. Our thumbs were working tirelessly. Sweat from our hands was greasing the controllers. At halftime it had been a tie game, but in the third quarter I had given myself a ten point lead. My player James Harden hit two threes and stripped Damian Lillard for an easy fastbreak dunk. The win was at my fingertips. All I had to do was hold my lead for one more quarter. James Harden grabbed the rebound, dribbled down the court, and drilled a three. Thirteen point lead. The game was mine. I was not blowing this lead. I relaxed knowing that I had the win in the bag, but the lead had dropped to eight points before I knew it. Suddenly, I was only leading by 3. Hunter’s player grabbed the rebound, sprinted down the court, finished he layup, and got an and-one. He knocked down the free throw. It was now a tie game. James Harden dribbled the ball down the court, crossed Damian Lillard, and got to the basket with ease. I was now up two points. Hunter had no time-outs, so he inbounded the ball immediately. With three seconds left, he pushed the ball up the floor. Two Seconds. One Second. Damian Lillard fired a deep three. The ball glided through the air. And then swish. I lost. I threw the controller. Hunter leaped to his feet, shouting in my face (because he won, but also because I threw his controller on the ground). I tried not to listen to him.
Two days later I returned to Hunter’s house.
“Last time we played was so fake.”
“Sure. Of course you’d say that when you lose.”
“It was. Rematch me. I’ll beat you.”
“No, you had your chance to win, but you didn’t.”
“No, I’m not scared.”
“You’re clearly scared.”
“You know what, fine” Hunter said as he handed me a controller. Minutes later our thumbs were back to work. It had been a close, back and forth game leading into the fourth quarter. Hunter was up one with three minutes remaining. I stole back a one point lead with a minute to go after scoring a layup. This time I was confident. I knew I wouldn’t lose this lead, but then again, last game I had been confident and still lost. This time was different though. I was sure of it. There were six seconds left and Hunter had the ball. He inbounded it and began to dribble down the court. He went up for a contested layup just in time. The buzzer sounded. James Harden got a piece of the shot in a final attempt to save the game. The ball skimmed the rim. I held my breath as the ball tipped away from the net.
I jumped off the couch with a surge of pride. Redemption was mine.
While it may be difficult to believe, this story is based on true events, and now that I think about it, I guess this is a redemption story. Redemption doesn’t have to be about turning from dark to light or making up for a unforgivable mistake. Some redemption stories can be about proving your worth and what you’re capable of. Like catching a giant fish or beating your friend in 2k.