Aluminum Foil Basketball

Several years ago I was visiting a friend and he was showing me around his hometown. The area was very rural and most households seemed to be very poor. He was telling me stories about the area and showing me where his childhood friends lived. We pulled up on one house on a very steep terrain; it was very old, small, had a screened porch, and was dark inside. We heard a voice shout out from inside the worn down home. The voice was shouting in excitement as an elderly lady walked out of the porch area… She had recognized my friend and couldn’t believe it was him. Years ago, he had been great friends with her son and had gone to school with him. He got out of the vehicle and went to hug and embrace the elderly woman from this old worn down home. It was really cool to see them reuniting after many years. As I sat in the truck and looked out of the window… in her side yard were two boys playing…. both probably below 8 years old… They were playing basketball on an old fisher price plastic basketball goal. Since the house was embedded into a steep hill, the goal was sitting at an angle with 2 bricks on its base. The bricks helped weight the goal down so gravity would not make it fall over. The two young boys held in their hand a ball that had a metallic shine. They could not bounce it, but could only shoot it towards the goal… The closer I looked, I realized that they were played with a huge piece of balled up aluminum foil.

I watched them play for several minutes as my friend had a conversation with the lady from the house. The 2 young boys played with the intensity of the NBA Finals on that steep hill in rural Alabama. They knocked each other down and intensely shot that ball of aluminum. I watched the goal fall over several times as the ball would bang off of the backboard. The 2 boys would stop playing, one child would stand the goal back up and the other one would put the bricks back on the base. After a few more minutes, my friend got back in the truck and waived good bye to his old friend. She happened to be the grandmother of the 2 young boys playing basketball with aluminum foil. We drove away and that visual has always stuck with me… I had just witnessed two young poverty stricken boys competing and enjoying life to the fullest. They did not need a fancy basketball court or a ball from Walmart. They took what they had available and made their current situation as intense as Madison Square Garden. It reminded me of being young and playing football with a waded up paper cup or playing basketball on a door hanger. The joy and pureness of playing, competing, and not worrying about image. It also reminded me that every time I hear the word FOIL, I also think of elementary school math class…. When they taught us how to multiply binomials…. They gave us an acronym to memorize so we could learn the order of operations… In elementary math…. F.O.I.L. stood for First, Outside, Inside, Last… So in a way, they brainwashed me and etched this method in my memory. I had a lot of different emotions and thoughts running through my mind that day, and I have decided to use this method to illustrate the lesson I received…

  1. First: It reminded me of how we are spoiled. That being “spoiled” is more about a mindset than your resources. That the older we get or more privileged we become… The more conditional we become to do certain things. The most successful people do not let conditions get in the way of doing what they love. These two young kids were going to play no matter the conditions.
  2. Outside: We focus too much on what the world thinks. So often I see people choose perception and image over their God given purpose… The most successful people will not sacrifice their purpose for the world’s perception. These two young kids did not care what people thought about their aluminum foil basketball, they had a purpose that day.
  3. Inside:We need to get back to what gives us joy on the inside. The true nature of being a competitor, what lights us on fire, and what gives us true joy. Happiness is fleeting and connected to your feelings… Joy is sustaining and connected to your peace and purpose. These two young kids were experiencing true joy that day.
  4. Last: Never forget where you came from and why you started…. Usually the further we get away from when we started, we lose sight of “Why” we started… That was an awesome day riding around with my great friend. Not only did I get insight into his life, but his stories also brought back a lot of great memories. These two young kids taught me a great lesson that day.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

One thought on “Aluminum Foil Basketball

  1. Glory to God! This lesson/story reminds me that we are Victors not victims, because of all that Jesus has done for each of us who know and love Him!


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