I have been thinking a great deal about sports lately.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in the news lately as opening day is rapidly approaching. The 50th anniversary of the Dodgers in Los Angeles is this year.
There will be an exhibition at the Coliseum where they first played before Dodger Stadium was built. I remember going to the Coliseum to see the Dodgers with my father. I sat in left field. I kept seeing the back of the jersey of Wally Moon, number 9. He was the left fielder.
I also worked for the dodgers. Hired by Walter and Peter OMalley, it was my first introduction into the business world, and the sports world as well.
Two days ago, I purchased a jump rope. IT is the next step on the come back trail.
I wrote a long time friend an email yesterday. A long one. I wrote about talent and potential and mentors. I wrote about Judge Leon Higgonbotham.
Today, I was relaxing in bed, feeling more confident with every moment. Confident with the process of things.
Yesterday, someone emailed me about a friend. He was worried about this person.
There was nothing I could do except tell him what to look for. This friend does not speak to me anymore. I told him things about this friend that he needed to be aware of to identify the problems. He never heard me talk of this friend in that manner.
It was therefore no accident that I thought about another mentor. I was closer to him than Judge Higgonbotham. We went all over the country together while he was handling professional sports business. I introduced him to Peter O'Malley when he was embarking on his sports career. Later I was his tennis instructor and coach.
The friend I am worried about, the mentor, another friend in FRance who wrote me, we all know each other. we have known each other for decades. For some reason, it seems like I am in a communication loop again. LOose but it is there. Ffeels good.
I let myself down at one time and I know it hurt all of them.
I have been walking in Skid Row, thinking and feeling a new confidence. I thought of Higgonbotham. This morning I thought of ProServ, a sports maraketing firm I used to work with. I was reading things on the net with sports marketing and administration.
I thought of Charlie, my friend and mentor. I looked up his name and saw where he was. Ahhh, Sports and Entertainment Management. Hmmmmm. It was about time. It was not what he claimed he wanted to do. I begged him for years to get into the business. I always wanted to be in that business. The firm with whom I was employed was in the business, but I was on the event management side. By the way,
it was the same firm that represented Michael Jordan.
HMmmmmm, I thought. "Walter, when things get tight, go to your strength". He always said that to me. That was his mantra. "Go to your strength". I used to hate it when he said that to me. I never thought things would get tight. Things might get a little slow but tight, never. I never knew there was a definition like tight until I hit Skid Row. What the hell is your strength when you are down here?
I had to search for those answers. I searched while I looked at others searching for theirs. Human Capital was my answer. Human Capital and the investment in human relationships. Even this job I have now. I did not get it from applying and waiting to hear. I got it from developing relationships. That has always been my thing.
Charlie is the head of a sports representation group. I will be damned, I thought. We talked about it and then I went "south".
Ok, well I am coming back North again. "Go to my strength." Never forget those words. "Walter will understand what you tell him", Charlie told one of his business colleagues one day. He wanted me to hear what the man had to say. He would always bounce things of me, get some feedback. Higgonbotham did the same thing. They teach you, show you what to look for and then count on you to see what they dont see. It is not that they cant see certain things it is just that they are consumed by other matters but they know they taught you. They know how you think.
"He will understand. He taught me tennis but I taught him everything he knows."
And so the man talked to me and yes I understood everything he said. And yes I let him know that. And yes Charlie heard me brief the guy. And yes, Charlie heard me tell the guy what the guy wanted to hear. And yes, I escorted the guy to the hotel door in West Hollywood, our office when Charlie was on the west coast. And yes,
I closed the door and Charlie looked into my eyes waiting for me to tell him what I really thought and what charlie really wanted and needed to hear.
The beauty of mentorship. ONe day I was with Charlie. He had to see a basketball player who was in a program. We were in Van Nuys. That player was suspended from playing in the league. this was twenty years ago. He was at Houston at the time. I talked to the player and told him to hang in there. I have seen that player the last year on tv several times. I saw him, live, at the Staple Center when I went there a couple of Months ago. He overcame the obstacles and he is STILL PLAYING professional basketball while those that never had an interruption in their careers have long since been retired.
He has been an inspiration to me and each day I see the sports report on tv and they talk about an LA basketball team, I think of him and what he overcame. I think of the time I met him and what he was going through. I think of Charlie and his words. "Go with your strength".
One's strength evolves and it is important to recognize the many shapes it takes as time moves on.
What happened to me can be a strength as well. Sam Cassell was out of professional sports. He is still playing guard for the Clippers now. He has no idea that the man who talked to him at a clinic is taking the advice that I gave him. LOOk what he has done.
Charlie took a hit in the sports business but he is back as well. I see where he is. I am beginning to see where others are. I am looking up to see what is going on. Some of them are letting me know they are watching me as well.
I never forgot what Charlie or Higgonbotham taught me. Never. They taught me because they felt I could benefit from it and use the knowledge wisely. In ways I did but nothing compared to the potential that is there. The potential has not diminished. It is greater than ever before. Charlie will not have to co produce a play"Whatever happened to Walter Melton?" He had to do that in the past for some one else. He will produce another documentary. I am working on the script now.