Ratliff teaches all adults a good lesson

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

Having someone like Theo Ratliff come home to Demopolis really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The NBA star is just another person, and a person visiting home should be as commonplace as eating breakfast.

For some reason, though, the looks on the faces of young people Tuesday morning made any person in attendance realize that Ratliff’s visit to his hometown was a little more than a Sunday brunch with mom and the family.

It goes without saying that some people are put in the position of having more influence than others. A professional athlete &045;&045; in this day in age &045;&045; carries a little more clout with young boys than the clout a professional accountant carries. Obviously, having accountants keep good books is important to the business world of today, but don’t tell a 10-year-old that being a CPA is more important than playing in the NBA.

Email newsletter signup

As Ratliff stood in the gymnasium of Demopolis High School on Tuesday, the looks on the faces of young people from this area made it abundantly clear that Ratliff can have a real impact on the way those kids think and the work ethic they develop at an early age.

One of the most important things Ratliff said to the young people of Demopolis this week focused on what they’d do after he left the gym and returned to Atlanta.

You can bet that, next week, young boys and girls all over Marengo County will pick up a basketball and try to dunk a mini basketball goal just the way Theo did it. You can also bet they’ll practice a little harder knowing that someone from this small Alabama town enjoys the life of a professional athlete.

While having a role model like Ratliff isn’t such a bad thing, we believe all adults in this community can learn from the lesson Ratliff taught during this week’s basketball camp.

First of all, we believe adults can have a true impact on the life of young people if the adults in this town take the time to mentor the next generation. Being a mentor to a young person doesn’t mean changing your entire lifestyle. It simple means taking a few minutes every once in a while to show interest in what our youth enjoy.

Showing up for a neighbor’s child’s ball game could make a world of difference to a young person. Showing up for your own child’s ball game obviously carries much more weight.

We all don’t have to be professional athletes to help raise the next generation of leaders. Sometimes, we just have to care.