Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who was well beyond his time with his thinking on how the world should be and how people should interact with each other and how people should view each other.
Had he not been taken away from us, Dr. King would be 84 years young this year.
To honor and celebrate the life of Dr. King, both the boys and girls basketball teams from Westview and Millennium high schools were invited to take part in the “MLK Basketball Classic” at GCU Arena on the campus of Grand Canyon University.
The point of playing basketball is to beat your opponent, but on Monday, these four teams were all about paying homage to a great humanitarian.
The boys and girls from Westview swept their counterparts 54-40 and 53-42 respectively.
After the games I had a chance to catch up with four very bright and very good basketball players: Westview’s Airianna Sesma and Terrance Bland and Millennium’s Kylee Reibel and Jordan Martin.
I wanted to ask these young people just what they thought when their head coaches told them they’d be playing in this tournament.
“It was exciting for us to play here in this tournament at GCU, an exciting moment,” Sesma said.
Sesma took a moment to talk about Dr. King, and what he means to her, and how wide reaching his influence still is to this day.
“When I think about him, I just know he did a lot for us, for everybody,” Sesma said. “[He] did so much good for us in our lives.”
“I was really honored to know that my team could play in this tournament, I was real thankful,” Reibel said.
Reibel said she had a great time playing in the tournament, and she was happy her and her team, despite the loss, got a chance to show everyone what her team is all about.
Like most of us, Reibel has dreams and goals she’s trying to attain in her life. She says thanks to Dr. King’s tireless efforts, we are all able to reach for the stars if we so choose.
“I feel like, for me, he showed us what we can do in our lives, that we can go for our dreams and make them come true,” Reibel said. “I feel we can go for it, get there and do it.”
Reibel says Dr. King is the shining light for those who may have lost hope in their lives. She says he’s the ideal model we should look to when chasing our goals.
“It feels good, what he did for the black community as a whole, for what he sacrificed, his life,” Bland said. “He really didn’t have to put himself through all that trouble, he could’ve just stayed back like any normal person would and just watch everything happen.”
Thank goodness he didn’t.
Bland has a thought on what the world would be like if there were no Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“If Dr. King wasn’t around, the world probably would be corrupt like it was in the past, and things probably wouldn’t have moved forward,” Bland said.
Martin is a young man who centers himself around his faith, just like Dr. King did.
Martin blew me away by something he did in the game.
The game was very heated and both teams were scrapping for the ball, and Martin let his emotions get the best of him, and he got a technical foul.
He’d eventually foul out, and I could tell he was really heated about what had happened.
So, on the way back to the bench, Martin walked directly to Knights head coach Francisco Villa, shook his hand and apologized for losing his cool.
That really touched me, and I’m sure it touched Dr. King, who I’m sure was looking down from above.
Martin says his ability to humble himself and take responsibility for his actions is just what Dr. King was all about.
“God brought him here on this earth to do that for us and that’s what’s called all this to happen,” Martin said. “It’s an honor to play under his name, and him being a godly man is the biggest thing to me [and] it’s a blessing to do that.”
When I asked Martin what would Dr. King think of the world if he were still alive, he had this to say:
“I think he’d be jumping up and down seeing Obama as President,” Martin said. “He probably never expected that.”
“The world would be much better than what it is now,” Martin said. “People would be respecting each other much more.”