Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bobby Jackson not only played with heart, but has it, too

Few situations ever will touch us as deeply as the loss of a parent.

Former NBA guard Bobby Jackson watched his mom, Sarah, succumb to cancer in 2003 and since has attacked the disease as if it were a retreating defense.

As a player, Jackson was known for his desire to accept a challenge and he did so again Monday while hosting the Bobby Jackson Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at the plush Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, Ca.

The tournament was designed to provide financial support for Camp Kesem, a free overnight summer camp for children ages 6-13 and teens 14-16 of all races, religions, nationalities and financial status with a parent who had or has had cancer.

"My mom passed away seven years and I didn't have anyone to lean on while she was going through it," Jackson said as he sat in a golf cart at Hole 2. "So that's something I can relate to, especially for kids.

"Seeing what cancer did to my mom helps make it a passion that is related to almost everything I do. I just want to give back because I've been blessed and you know it's more difficult for kids to understand when a parent goes through something like that."

Jackson's words rang true after having my father die from cancer at age 53. As I think back, the final weeks of my pops life were more of a daze than anything else. Perspective was gained in retrospection.

However, any help provided to those, particularly children, dealing with cancer at any level only can be lauded.

Jackson's efforts received support from 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans; former Sacramento Kings Mitch Richmond, Scot Pollard and Matt Barnes (now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers); former N.Y. Jets', Minnesota Vikings' and Jacksonville Jaquars' wide receiver Matthew Hatchette; and entertainers Petri Byrd (the bailiff/comedian from TV's 'Judge Judy Show, and Christopher Martin and Christopher Reid (aka Kid n Play or shall I say, Play n Kid), actor Tyrin Turner (Menace to Society) and filmmaker Deon Taylor.

Some played golf. Some didn't play. Some played and still didn't play, if you feel me .

Said Byrd, "I got a call and specifically was asked not to golf. So I tried to adhere to the request."

Byrd instead conducted an all-day comedy corner near the clubhouse. "I saw one guy hit a buzzard-leg right. Can't kill nothing and nothing won't die."

"I hit two of my best balls earlier - I stepped on a rake."

Byrd performs an accomplished impersonation of late actor/entertainer Bernie Mac. And while Bird and Kid n Play sat near the clubhouse, I was pleased and pleasured to sit with these cats.

Most of the time, it was four brothers from different parts of New York, me and Kid n Play who grew up in Queens and Bird the Brooklyn outsider discussing everything under the sun with the foreground of some California hills.

Who'd a thunk it?

Moreover, how the heck did this occur? Imagine the twists and turns in each individual's lives that put us in that situation. That's what made it sweeter than sweet. Christopher Martin now teaches Hip Hop History at North Carolina Central University.

For me the sports nut, I think of NCCU and the Penn Relays when quarter-miler Larry Black turned out the '72 event that Phillip Atwell and I rode Amtrak down to see. So from Larry Black to Play, it's all good.

And it took me five minutes to recognize that Kid was Kid. The high-top has so faded, but the wit and flavor brought me back with quickness.

Life and time separated Kid n Play for a while, but it was great to see the pair together again. They've reunited and performed at the Jamie Foxx Comedy Show in Sacramento the night before and hung out to support Jackson's efforts at the tournament.

It was a day in which groups of athletes and entertainers belied the overwhelming accepted reputations of selfishness and mindlessness that run rampant throughout our society. The effort was sparked and originated by Jackson, who showed most of all, it was not all about him.

As for this golf thing, it's obvious I don't get it. Even during a celebrity tournament in which scores really don't mean a thing, it seemed as if there might have been a little fudging on the scores.

And what kind of sport is this thing when a ball-striker needs absolute silence to do his thing. It's interesting to see athletes, many of whom are not true golfers, put themselves in uncomfortable situations to offer support. Believe me, some of those swings were uncomfortable.

However, none of them were as comfortable as I was after continually bumping into the Hole 11 and the accompanying margaritas. Comfort eventually turned into discomfort as the heat and non-tequila flavored lemonade turned my legs into brown jello shots.

Luckily, my man Chris, who drove me around all day in a golf cart, recognized the weebles- wobble-but-they-don't-fall-down circumstances and helped me to air conditioning and an ice-soaked towel in the club's admin building.

Being a guy who drinks water, well, like water, hearing from EMT's that I likely was dehydrated sounded funny. However, I learned margaritas are no substitute for water.

So thanks to the folks who stepped in to assist as well as the many who came to check on a brother.

On the news side, Barnes said reports that he'd last week slapped a coach during a San Francisco Summer Pro League were erroneous.

That was good to hear. Certainly, summer league games aren't that serious. I've known Barnes, who hosted his own charity golf tournament two weekends ago, for close to ten years now and I only hoped he didn't put himself into a situation where a law suit soon was to follow.

An NBA spokesman recently said the powers-that-be were waiting to receive the official paperwork regarding Evans' Memorial Day Speed Racer episode. Evans likely is to receive at least a one-game suspension, it says here.


  1. I like Matt, and know people who were there and saw it happen. He even later admited to it to your old bee buddy Sam Ammick.

  2. Must say that this is truly a great article. As always it had your feel good quality. Hats off to Bobby Jackson. I go back to his college and Kings, memories. He was a hard nose player, who could really score big and heck of a "Six Man" He's really coming up big against cancer, with this tournament.I guess that displays his courage and drive when he sinks his teeth in something.Didn't he once finish the season playing with a crushed face. Refusing surgery, wow! When I read that piece on Kid and Play, I was moved. Hey, I thought I was there that day with you and Atwell? Oh well. Back in 08, Play's vehicle was struck by another drive, who was fleeing from the police. Play and his female passenger was hospitlized. Thats a conversation in its own right. Another summer is coming to an end. Bring on some football. Peace

  3. I agree with with Dr. McNeal that tequila is a poor substitute for water. I designed a similar experiment and replicated his results.

  4. Kid 'n Play were in my own backyard and I didn't hear about it?! Them's my boys! Thank you, Bobby Jackson for your heart! I feel you and your sorrow.