The Mother Of All Comebacks: Ieshia Champs

“When I was six years old, while playing with an old doll on a beat up sofa, I heard a knock at the door. My grandmother opened the door to reveal a woman I had seen earlier at school that day. My grandmother burst into tears and I was terribly confused. In that moment, I was being taken away and placed in the custody of Children Protective Services. Where was my mother? My father? Both were out on drug binges and I had not seen them in days.

Over the years, the only ounce of stability I received was in the eight hours I spent in the classroom. It was my comfort zone. I was a confused fourteen year old child who had already lived in over six different residences between all four years of high school. Some were friends whose parents allowed me to stay long term, and others were friends who sometimes had to sneak me in to stay the night. I was supposed to be thinking about what color lip gloss to wear or where to hang out with my friends over the weekend, however, I was worried about whose house could I stay at the following day. Soon things became overbearing and I reluctantly dropped out of school during my senior year. I wanted to help others who were in awful situations, perhaps plead someone’s case for innocence, yet I had no diploma and no desire to return to school. As the years grew, my dreams for becoming an attorney died.

By January of 2009, I was a mother of three and given the news of expecting my fourth child. As excited as I was, this turned out to be the most traumatic year I had ever experienced. Each month presented an overwhelming tragedy. I lost everything I owned in a house fire, was laid off from my job, and while seven months pregnant, lost my children’s father to cancer. I was suddenly a single mother of four with nothing to fall back on; not even my sanity.  I had four children, and I was already in my late 20’s. However, in the midst of this turmoil, I went back to school to obtain my GED. I did not want my children to experience what I did as a child. I had to succeed for them and for myself.

Upon matriculation into Thurgood Marshall School of Law, I was scared. I was a mother of five young children, and the only help I had was that of my church family and my sister, who also has five children of her own. My sisters’ love and care for me and my children helped me out in ways that are indescribable. She cooked for us, watched my children and hers after doing long hours at work, and most importantly, she always encouraged me and was a shoulder to lean on when I cried. She has been there every step of the way for me, despite her own personal obstacles she’s had to overcome. My church family has walked this journey with me since day one and has prayed for me daily, talked me out of giving up and most of all, they’ve been a family like no other. They’ve opened their home to me and my children and comforted me. It is situations such as those that gives me the drive and eagerness to become a successful attorney. Many of my peers identify me as a walking testimony, and are amazed at where I am today. I was once told that the odds were against me. I responded by not just defying the odds, but destroying them by resurrecting a dream that died.

I took the pictures with my kids because they helped me through school. They’re graduating too! They would help me review with flash cards while I cooked. They would sit as a mock jury while I taught them what I learned that day. I would sit in my closet and pray and cry because I was overwhelmed and my oldest son, David, would gather his siblings, give them a snack, make them take a bath, gather their school clothes, all to make things easier for me. And I had no knowledge of him doing that until I went to do it!”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ieshia Champs of Houston, Texas.

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Flip The Script, aka, Change Your Ending

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Flipped the Script and They’re Having Fun Doing It

You can’t change your beginning, but you sure can change your ending.  You can’t go back and change what happened, but you can, spiritually speaking, reach forward and change what you want to happen.  That’s what Philly teams are doing, and that’s what I’m doing too. The Urban Dictionary says that Flip the Script means “to gain control in a dialogue that is being dominated by another person so that you are now in charge.”

Spiritually speaking, we all need to gain control of the dialogue of our lives and flip the script, just like Philly sports teams have done and are doing.

In the dialogue of the 2018 NFL season, no one, and I mean NO ONE, picked Nick Foles to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a win in Super Bowl LII. Except me, right?  But they did it. They flipped the script. They won the big one.  When Carson Wentz went down, Nick Foles got up and led the Eagles to an unforgettable Super Bowl victory. 

And now, another Philadelphia team, the Sixers, is flipping the script.  The Sixers won a whopping ten games just two short seasons ago. This season, in their wildest dreams, they hoped to break even and be a .500 team, and maybe, just maybe, if they were lucky, possibly make the playoffs. Instead, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid led their young teammates to 52 wins. They are the No. 3 Seed in the Eastern Conference and they ended the season on a 16-game winning streak. That’s a winning streak six games longer than the win total just two years ago. Are you kidding me? AND . . .  this was the longest winning streak in FRANCHISE HISTORY.  And now they’re on the verge of advancing to the second round of the playoffs in convincing fashion. WHAT?

It just goes to show ya — you can’t change when you were born or where you were born or how you were raised, but you sure can change where you live and where you work and where you worship.  You can’t change where you’ve been, but you absolutely can change where you’re going. You can’t change your past, but you can change the trajectory of your future.

I don’t like where I am, what I do or how things are going at work. Since I don’t like it, I’m changing it. I’m changing where I’m headed and where I’m going and what my situation is so I’m sure to change my ending. I’m going to flip the script.  For some, living in the suburbs in a picturesque subdivision in a house with a two car garage on a cul-de-sac backing to woods sounds nice, but it’s not working for me.  Working a hoity-toity job in a destination location where there is a long line of applicants trying to get a foot in the door may sound like the cat’s meow, but it’s not working for me. It may fit the mold and the make and the makeup of where one would kill to be, but it’s not for me.

Spiritually, we need to know what works and what doesn’t. We need to know what’s working, and what’s not working.  The Eagles and the Sixers flipped the script. They turned negatives into positives. They used all of the adversity and hardship and hindrance’s they faced and turned them into fuel for the turnaround. They used all of the bad to help them go from worst to first. They went from the bottom of the pile to the top of the heap.  The Eagles were underdogs in every playoff game.  Underdogs! So many people had written their ending, but they flipped the script, proved the doubters wrong, destroyed the odds, and came out on top.

 And I’m going to do the same. How ‘bout you?

Why You Should Be Watching The NBA Playoffs

James and Simmons
The NBA’s Past, LeBron James, and it’s Future, Ben Simmons

LeBron James. Ben Simmons. Joel Embiid.  James Harden.  Kevin Durant. Anthony Davis. Giannis Antetokounmpo. And that’s just to name a few. These athletes are why you and I should be watching every possible game of these 2018 NBA Playoffs.   And it’s just the first round.

Let’s start with LeBron.

How long has LeBron James been in the NBA?  Fifteen seasons?  Wow. But time is no factor because he says he’s like fine wine; he just keeps getting better with age. And to prove it, just look at his stats, which are staggering.

James has:

3 NBA Titles

3x NBA Finals MVP

3x NBA All-Star Game MVP

4x NBA MVP

14x NBA All-Star

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Yes, LeBron James is still the king of the NBA. And this year, King James is trying to lead his rag tag, bumbling, and sometimes blundering band of basketball bums to at least the Eastern Conference Finals. But it won’t be easy. The Cavaliers are in trouble because LeBron does not have a strong supporting cast. But then again, James has been to the finals with less talent.  So we’ll see.

But LeBron is at the end of the line in Cleveand. And Ben Simmons’  Hall of Fame career is just getting started. Could this be the passing of the torch?

Philly’s phenomenal young rookie, Ben Simmons, had a double double and was 3 assists shy of a triple double in Game 3 on the road in Miami. His partner in the prime of his life is Joel Embiid who returned from an eye injury wearing a mask and led the Sixers with 23 points and seven rebounds. Not too shabby for a seven footer who needed to knock the rust off. Philly won a rough, tough, physical game which was close through 3½ quarters. But the Sixers pulled away and put Miami away down the stretch and won by 20. It was an impressive team win to say the least.

So who ya got?  The Houston Rockets have James Harden who is trying to prove that he is indeed the League MVP and can lead his team to the Promised Land of an NBA Title.  But not so fast. The defending Champs, the Warriors still have something to say, and the upstart New Orleans Pelicans are leading favorite Portland 2-0, and they are winning Game 3 handedly. But don’t sleep on the Philadelphia 76ers.  Don’t do it. They’ve got their best player back and they’re playing their best ball, so the sky is the limit for this young talented team. I’m just saying.

To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.  What’s true in sports is also true in life. Living life involves tests and trials, and in order to come out on top, we’ll need to bring our best. But sometimes our “A” game isn’t quite enough. That’s why we need the help of Heaven. The enemy of our souls tries to throw everything he has at us in an effort to knock us off and knock us down and ultimately knock us out. 

But have no fear. This is The Year of Jubilee.  This is the year that God shows off and shows out and shows up for us. Believe you me.  God is at His best when we are at our worst.

 

Are The Cavaliers In Trouble?

Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers

Is this the end of an era? Is this the end of the line? Is this the end of the end of LeBron James’ dominance in Cleveland?  It just may be. Because the Cavaliers are in trouble.  LeBron is looking off, looking for answers from someone, somewhere that don’t seem to be coming.

All season long, Cleveland has struggled with roster moves after moving Kyrie Irving to Boston in the offseason. And the end result is this?  The end product of all of the tinkering and tempering and tampering with trades and acquisitions this season still seems to be a big question mark. In other words, there’s trouble in LeBron Land.

The Cleveland LeBron’s (aka the Cleveland Cavaliers) lost to the hungry, upstart Indiana Pacers AT HOME in Game one of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. Cleveland looked absolutely apathetic and the home team got booed off of their own court. Now the Cavs are left with trying to figure it out and how to avoid disaster. So, is there trouble in LeBron Land? I’ll say.

But maybe this is just Game One. Maybe it’s just one game, right? I mean, every team is entitled to an off day, right? Maybe. But if the play of the supporting cast LeBron is stuck with is any indication of things to come, then LeBron will be saying goodbye, audios and Auf Wiedersehen to Cleveland in search of the next team he can take to the Promised Land of an NBA Title.

Can Jake Arrieta Get It Done in Philly?

Arietta in Philies Uniform

The Phillies are doing their part. Just two months after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, the Sixers and Flyers are in the playoffs and the Phillies are off to a great start, so all of the Philly franchises have jumped on the winning wagon and are contenders in their sport. The Phillies have won five straight behind their new ace pitcher Jake Arrieta. The Phils stand at 8-5 and are currently in second place behind the surprising 11-2 Miracle Mets. Go figure. On the other hand The Washington Nationals, picked to win it all (again), are 7-8 and sit in fourth place in the National League East.

The Phillies are doing their part because they signed Jake Arrieta to a multi-year deal, gaining a proven, star free-agent pitcher just prior to the beginning of the season. 

And while Arietta’s stats are inching in the wrong directions, there’s still hope that the veteran will add value to a team full of rookies and unproven players. Over the past few years with the Cubs (thanks Chi-Town!), the velocity of his payoff pitch as inched down while his ERA has inched up. But let’s focus on the positives, shall we?

We all need to do our part. Yes we all have negative traits and tendencies and bad habits and hiccups. Yes we need to work on them, but we really need to bolster and boost up the positive, attractive and affirmative side of our character. Since no one is perfect, we will never fully eradicate all of our bad habits. So men will still fart in public and teenagers will still do things their parents will never know about in private.

It’s called life. So do what you do well, and focus on the good outweighing the bad. And if you do more good than what you do bad (it’s supposed to be badly, but you know what  I mean), at the end of the day, you should come out on top.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=Jake+Arietta#id=4&vid=feab3ff31b6ce36499a130f1b2d477d2&action=click

Why Dallas Dumped Dez

dez-bryant-getty-4

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the Cowboys dumped their ALL TIME leading receiver, Dez Bryant. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Since he came into the League and made a home in Dallas, Dez has been a brew of venomousness that is frighteningly viral. His actions, on and off of the field, have been radical (to say the least) and ultimately lethal to his team and fatal to his career.  In other words, Dez is a hot mess.

Dez may be talented, but he’s also toxic. What Dez did not realize is that no stand out statistics or ridiculous records can take the place of a player who is reliable and dependable and stalwart and not unpredictable. In other words, character still counts.

Bryant was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2010. He amassed more than 1,000 yards receiving, with double-digit touchdowns, for three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014. He finishes his time with the Cowboys with a team-record 73 touchdown receptions to go with 531 catches for 7,459 yards in 113 games. And yet, the Cowboys were all too eager to say “Bye Felicia” to their golden boy of a receiver. In other words, see ya, don’t want ta’ be ya.

Dez is done in Dallas because he did not think he was a distraction to the team. It just goes to show; you can’t do what you want or say what you want and still get what you want. It just doesn’t work that way. Dues must be paid.  And in order to play in the NFL, or on any other reputable sports team, you need to do as mom taught us all, and that is to mind your manners. Here’s what the Dallas Cowboys had to say about cutting Dez:

“The other thing that we all see, and it is certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline, is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on the team’s podcast. “Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. And we just have to really get our hands around when you put all the full body of work together where that’s headed.” http://www.espn.com/blog/dallas-cowboys/post/_/id/4766019/cowboys-cut-dez-bryant-due-to-lack-of-production-attitude

Once again, the lesson is crystal clear; your central core is more important than all of your shiny outer trimmings combined.   People might say that they like the attitude and all of the antics, but at the end of the day, we want to cheer for someone we want our daughters to marry. And Dez just doesn’t deliver. He may be able to catch a football, but lately, he can’t catch a hint. Owners and managers and coaches are only willing to put up with so much. So let this be another lesson for every and all other “characters” out there. Character still counts.

You can’t have it both ways. At the end of the day, careless, callous and reckless, abandoned living gets you nowhere fast.  The end of the line for loud mouth, undisciplined, show-boat behemoth players (and people) who can think no farther than their last antic or antagonistic tweet is a life of regret.  The sad part of the story is that Dez will land with some team somewhere but will go no farther than he’s gone before, unless he decides to mend his ways. 

It was said that the only person that can stop Dez Bryant, is Dez Bryant.  Because people, like owners and coaches, are only willing to put up with so much.

The DiVincenzo Factor

DiVincenzoVillanova-superJumboDonte DiVincenzo winking after a shot against Michigan on Monday. He had 31 points, five rebounds and three assists and was voted Most Outstanding Player in Villanova’s 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Title win.

Credit Ronald Martinez/Getty Images        

Donte DiVincenzo’s name is just like his game: unique and intimidating. I mean, don’t you wish you could have a championship game like Donte DiVincenzo? You know, Villanova’s killer sixth man off the bench who just killed it against upstart Michigan? I mean he KILLED IT! He doesn’t start, and yet he scored thirty-one points, had block after block and timely three pointers to carry his team to victory. It was an impressive performance to say the least. 

One sports writer put it like this: “Had DiVincenzo been in a video game, flames would have been coming off his ball.”

The statistics — 31 points on 15 shots, five rebounds and three assists — still undersell the extent to which DiVincenzo was his team’s fulcrum Monday night. The team’s sixth man, he was the one who stopped the bleeding after the underdog Michigan surprised the 67,831 spectators in the Alamodome and millions more watching on television who had expected a fairly easy victory by Villanova, the top seed.

Before DiVincenzo scored his first basket, Michigan led 14-8. Villanova’s next 8 points were DiVincenzo’s: a 3-pointer, a 3-point play, a jump shot. DiVincenzo responded to ball screens by hitting long 3s from where he was standing or, once, finding Omari Spellman down low on a brilliant bounce pass.

On defense, during one stretch he forced a driving Zavier Simpson into a miss and then, on the next possession, the 6-foot-5 DiVincenzo straight-up blocked an attempted dunk by Charles Matthews. At one point, after back-to-back 3-pointers, DiVincenzo winked at the crowd. He later said he was aiming for Hart.

The moral of the story is this: every team needs a DiVincenzo on their bench because the DiVicenzo factor is so awe-inspiring it sends goose bumps up and down your spine. I’m so happy for him. He could have been a starter on any other team. Instead, he sacrificed playing time and came off of the bench and put the team first. And the end result was another National Championship for Villanova. AND he was rewarded and voted Most Outstanding Player for the Final Four. Wow. March Madness surely went out with a bang.

Sounds like we all could learn a lesson or two from Vilanova and Mr. DiVincenzo. Can you pronounce his name right yet?