Never Give Up

Jordin Mayes, #20

I’ve become a basketball fan over the years, with my husband as a coach/mentor, and my son as a player/manager. My son is a student manager for the University of Arizona’s men basketball team. His roommate is Jordin Mayes, their freshman point guard who has really grown this year. Going into this season, the team wasn’t even ranked. And yet through many last minute victories and surprises, they came in FIRST PLACE in the PAC 10! As a result, they are part of March Madness. Last Sunday, the Arizona Wildcats played in Oklahoma against the University of Texas Longhorns. Both teams had the same season ranking, so it was bound to be a close game. But what I watched was beyond basketball — it was an event that spoke to me about life, magic and never giving up.

Derrick Williams, #23

The Wildcats were up by 11 at half time, thanks to Jordin, who had hit four 3-pointers to make it his season high! Jordin played with focus and power, a vital part of the team. Derrick Williams, our key player, wasn’t scoring well but he kept the Longhorns from scoring. Then in the 3rd quarter, Derrick found his gear with an awesome dunk, and he was fully in the game. However, J’Covan Brown from Texas single-handedly brought his team back into contention by repeatedly getting fouled and making all 12 free throws! Few players can do that.

Now it’s 2 minutes to go and we’re tied. Over the next minute we barely stayed on top, and when the clock hit 1 minute left, Texas took the lead as their fans went nuts! All of a sudden there were only 9 seconds left on the clock, Texas is up by 2 and they have the ball. At that moment, time stood still. Everyone was on their feet and you could feel the unanimous feeling that the game was over and Texas had won.

Then something unexpectedly occurred. They were up by two and had possession of the ball. While inbounding, Arizona put up such a great defense that the player with the ball struggled for almost 5 seconds and found no open man to throw it to. He was forced to call a time out. Made sense, he had to get out of the situation. But the ruling is you have to call a timeout within 3 seconds, so the ball was awarded to Arizona! Everyone–coaches, players, fans and even the refs–were shocked!!!

The Wildcats had 9 seconds to score. They got the ball in, attempt a play, and with 4 seconds left, Derrick Williams heaved the ball towards the net while he was falling flat to the floor by being blocked and fouled by two players. Somehow he willed that ball in because he was going down while it was going up. Magic –it went in! Tie game, and Derrick is on the line for a free throw.

The Arizona crowd is wild! The band plays with full gusto as the fans sing our their fight song and the stadium is buzzing with magic and intensity in the air. Derrick was at the line but 1,000’s of fans were channeling that ball to go in. He made the free throw, which put Arizona ahead by 1 point. Now Texas has the ball with 4 seconds left. They streaked down the court and got a shot off, and it bounced off the rim. It was rebounded by their team, and as that player went up to shoot it, the buzzer sounded and the game was over. Arizona won by 1 point.

I felt the cells in my body realign themselves. I had given up on Arizona at 9 seconds to go. I didn’t see how we could win or even tie when Texas had the ball with that short amount of time remaining. But I had forgotten about MAGIC once again. Magic’s hand showed up and the game took an unpredictable turn, and Arizona rose to the occasion. This was a life learning for me. Something magical can always happen. I heard from deep within a quiet, strong voice, “ NEVER GIVE UP. MAGIC IS ALWAYS PRESENT. NEVER GIVE UP.”

Go Wildcats!

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2 thoughts on “Never Give Up

  1. It is a great life lesson for sure and one that in my opinion plays itself out over and over again in athletic contests of all sorts. I love that because we are mere mortals the outcome is NEVER predictable and attitude and sheer will can shape a contest as much as superior skills.

    Loved your commentary and special insight.

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