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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Every Team Needs A Sister Jean

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Who is Sister Jean? Meet Loyola-Chicago’s Spiritual Guide and Biggest Fan

“It’s hard to call Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt an overnight sensation. After all, she’s been following basketball at Loyola University-Chicago for more than a half century and said she saw the Ramblers win the NCAA title in 1963. But thanks to television, the internet and social media, the 98-year-old nun has become a media darling.

With victories against Miami and Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, the Ramblers are hoping for more spiritual guidance when they face the winner of the Cincinnati-Nevada game in next week’s Sweet 16.

Here are some things you might not have known about Loyola-Chicago’s inspirational leader.

Praying for victory: As the basketball team’s chaplain since 1994, Sister Jean begins every prayer the same way: “Good and gracious God.” But if you’re thinking she does not invoke the deity for a little help to win, think again. “I ask God to be especially good to Loyola so that, at the end of the game, the scoreboard indicates a big ‘W’ for us,” she told The New York Times. She ends every prayer with an emphatic “Go Ramblers.” Judging from some of the shots Loyola-Chicago has been burying during this tournament — Clayton Custer’s game-winner against Tennessee comes to mind — these prayers have been answered so far.

She’s a Hall of Famer: Loyola-Chicago inducted Sister Jean into the athletic department’s Hall of Fame in 2017, making her the 173rd member to be enshrined. Born in San Francisco in 1919, Sister Jean played basketball in high school.

Good scouting: Every season, Sister Jean researches the boxscores of upcoming opponents, using her sharp eye for detail to point out flaws in the Ramblers’ next foe. Coach Porter Moser found a manila folder on his desk on his first day as coach, according to NCAA.com. Sister Jean had compiled a scouting report on the Ramblers to help the new coach. “She lights up every room she goes into.” Moser told the Times. “She’s always smiling. She has an energy about herself. I connect with that.”

She has her own bobblehead: Loyola-Chicago held a bobblehead promotion night for Sister Jean in 2011.

Super sneakers: Sister Jean has a pair of maroon-and-gold Nike sneakers that she wears during each game. Two names are stitched on the sneaker’s heels: “Sister” on the left heel, and “Jean” on the right.

It’s been quite a ride for Loyola-Chicago, which has knocked off two highly touted programs. Now, the Ramblers will have to go against Sister Jean (they hope to prove her wrong) in the Sweet 16: She picked the Ramblers to lose in that round”. http://www.fox13memphis.com/news/trending-now/sister-jean-doloresschmidt-5-things-to-know/717742144 

Black Panther is a “Bad” Cat

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For all those of you who have NOT seen the Black Panther film, stop reading. Stop reading right now and go and see it. It’s that good.  And of course you have to understand that in the hood, “bad” means good. And everywhere, someday, right will win the fight, and all that is noble and just will finally reign supreme.  Regardless of your sex, race or ethnic origin, if you love watching the best team win, and if you love what is true, and honest and lovely and good, you will love this film.

If you love comeback stories and good overcomes evil dramas, the Black Panther is for you. And if you love victories with a come from behind turnaround twist, you will appreciate the cinematic genius of Ryan Coogler and the acting acumen of Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright and Angela Basset and so many others.  

I read an outstanding review by Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post and can’t say it any better that she did. In short, Ann Hornaday said, “The Black Panther is a different kind of superhero (who) will mean so much to so many.”  Amen sista.

Here ya go:

” ‘Black Panther,’ an adaptation of the iconic comic book that has been decades in coming, proves to be more than worth the wait. This lush, impressively well-acted film, about an African king learning how best to marshal the superpowers with which he’s been endowed, comes draped in anticipation, not only from hardcore fans of the source material, but also from filmgoers already steeped in breathless hype. Director Ryan Coogler, working with a script he co-wrote with Joe Robert Cole, doesn’t just meet but exceeds those expectations, delivering a film that fulfills the most rote demands of superhero spectacle, yet does so with style and subtexts that feel bracingly, joyfully groundbreaking.

Chadwick Boseman, until now best known for channeling the likes of Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, comes masterfully into his own here as T’Challa, crown prince of the mystical kingdom of Wakanda, who assumes the throne when his father is killed while giving a speech at the United Nations. After an elaborate initiation ritual, T’Challa is tasked with hunting down an evil arms merchant named Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who has stolen a Wakandan artifact made of the precious metal vibranium. Outfitted with dhesive footwear, a fearsome feline mask and a suit that can absorb and redirect power, invented by his techno-genius sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa sets off for South Korea with his allies, General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), an accomplished operative who also happens to be T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend.

That game, once it’s afoot, is plenty entertaining, even if it never veers beyond the most conventional contours of modern-day movie action. In a recent interview that went viral, the music producer Quincy Jones noted that most rap music is “just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks.” The same formula applies to the comic book movies that, at their most uninspired, feel like thinly cobbled-together series of battles royal, windy expository encounters, spatially challenged chase scenes and epic standoffs.

The difference with “Black Panther” is that, while observing the outlines of the traditional comic book arc, Coogler and his creative team have enlarged and revitalized it. Drawing on elements from African history and tribal culture, as well as contemporary and forward-looking flourishes, “Black Panther” pulses with color, vibrancy and layered textural beauty, from the beadwork and textiles of Ruth Carter’s spectacular costumes and Hannah Beachler’s warm, dazzlingly eye-catching production design to hairstyles, tattoos and scarifications that feel both ancient and novel.

Make no mistake: Coogler doesn’t use “Black Panther” as an awkward delivery system for such Deep Ideas. Rather, he weaves them in organically and subtly. “Black Panther” is great fun to watch and shot through with delicate threads of lighthearted humor, mostly delivered from Wright’s cheeky, sarcastic whiz kid and Martin Freeman, who shows up midway through the film as an earnest if unlikely ally.

Gracefully photographed with a gratifying un-frenetic touch by Rachel Morrison (nominated for an Oscar for her marvelous work on “Mudbound”), “Black Panther” succeeds far beyond Coogler’s directorial chops (which are prodigious), striking visual design and thematic depth. As a showcase for many of the finest actors working today, it proves how essential performance is, even in movies that on their surface demand little more than fitting into a latex suit and affecting a convincing grimace.

Boseman, who strides through “Black Panther” with unforced, charismatic ease, assumes almost Shakespearean levels of doubt as his character is challenged by an unexpected rival. Nyong’o, Wright, Sterling K. Brown and Daniel Kaluuya bring poetry and gravitas to roles that transcend mere support. Michael B. Jordan, who broke out in Coogler’s debut film, “Fruitvale Station,” brings scrappy, street-smart volatility to his performance as a character with whom T’Challa has a karmic connection, and Gurira steals every scene she’s in as an indomitable warrior trained in the art of spearcraft.

It’s these actors — their faces, their commitment, their attention to craft and detail — that elevate “Black Panther” to stirring heights, whether they’re surfing on top of speeding cars through the colorfully lit streets of Busan, arguing against the backdrop of a teeming, futuristic city or communing with their deceased elders on the ancestral plane. And, as they dominate the screen in a movie rooted firmly in their own history and narratives, they provide an exhilarating, regal rebuke to the chronic absence and denigration of black bodies in American cinema.

‘Black Panther’ may be grounded in the loops, beats, rhymes and hooks of contemporary film grammar, but it feels like a whole new language.”

Are The Winter Olympics Way Too Long?

Here’s a humorous, tongue and cheek article by Ben Cohen and Joshua Robinson of the WSJ. It’s hilarious and well worth the read, just as Lyndsey Vonn’s Bronze Medal ceremony was worth the watch (she forgot to take her medal with her to the podium).

“PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—The Winter Olympics are a magical time every four years for people to marvel at sports that would almost certainly kill you, gawk at figure-skating wardrobe malfunctions and fall under the hypnotic spell of curling.

And then there are days like Monday. The complete list of medal events that day amounted to team ski jumping, 500-meter speedskating and two-man bobsled. That was it. Not a single medal was awarded before 9:53 p.m.

The slim pickings were symptomatic of a larger problem with the Winter Olympics: They’re way too long.

Wednesday was the 14th day of competition here. And somehow there were still four days to go. If it was beginning to feel like a slog, that’s because it was. There has never been a longer Winter Olympics.

But there is nothing in the Olympic Charter mandating that the Games need to feel this long. The Winter Olympics of 1976, 1980 and 1984 lasted 12 days from Opening Ceremony to Closing Ceremony. Until broadcasters wanted more. The Games expanded in 1988 to give ABC three weekends of television coverage during a typically dead time of the sports calendar between the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball tournament. And they’ve only gotten longer since then.

The Olympics stretched to accommodate new sports that keep the winter Games fresh and relevant, like mixed doubles curling. With that there is now curling every single day of the Olympics. There is so much curling the only way that Pyeongchang’s organizers could squeeze it all in to 17 days was to stretch 17 days to 18 days: The first curling match was the day before the Games officially began. Eighteen days! That’s six days longer than the last NBA Finals, four days longer than Wimbledon and twice as long as the world championships dedicated specifically to curling.

So perhaps the sport could survive without nine matches of round robin play. And nobody needs 12 days of long-track speedskating either. Not even the gold-addicted Netherlands. They conduct their Olympic trials in all of four days.”

And the moral of the story is this: sometimes short and sweet is better than bitter and long.

Can Anybody Stop The Dodgers?

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The LA Dodgers are RED HOT! 

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball by far. Get this: “L.A.’s winning percentage over the past two months (.863) is nearly 200 points higher than the Nationals’ winning percentage over the past three days (.667). That’s right. With another win on Sunday, the Dodgers are now 44-7 in their past 51 contests. Forty-four and seven. Incredible.

The timing of the Dodgers’ streak is not a coincidence, either: The first of those 51 games came on June 6, when L.A. beat the Nationals in the finale of a three-game set in Tinseltown. The following day, Justin Turner — who’s, um, really good at baseball — returned after missing three weeks with a hammy strain. It has been ice cream and puppy dogs ever since. And that’s despite missing ace Clayton Kershaw for the past two weeks!

Of course, just because Dave Roberts’ club is on pace for an absurd 115 regular-season wins doesn’t guarantee anything in the postseason. Just ask the 2001 Mariners, who set an MLB record by going 116-46, then lost in the ALCS. Then there’s this: Of the 21 teams that have posted 100-win seasons since the beginning of the wild-card era, only seven of them have reached the World Series. So maybe there’s hope yet for the Nationals. Or the Cubs. Or the Brewers. Or the Marlins.”

http://www.espn.com/blog/washington-nationals/post/_/id/2928/what-nationals-cubs-told-us-about-the-nl-pennant-race

And so the question really is, how can you and I get hot and stay hot? In other words, how can we get on a roll, spiritually?  It’s the question of the ages. First of all, it takes focus and not hocus-pocus. Sometimes it takes more than we’ve got but less than we know how to give. What it takes is not a mystery, nor a well-kept secret.  

Getting good and staying good is easier said than done, but it can be done.  Getting good and staying good requires discipline and determination and concentration and furtive contemplation. It requires having a will and making a way.  It also requires a hand out from Heaven and a hold out from hell.  We’ve got to have Divine assistance, and we must resist demonic attack. 

So don’t just wish a win; will a win. We must desire to succeed more than we desire life itself.  Look up and not down; look past obstacles and look through objections. And then, nothing, nothing at all, and no one at all, will be able to stop what God has started in you.

How To Bounce Off Of The Bench and Hit a Grand Slam (To Win A Playoff Game)

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How ‘bout ‘dem Cubs!

Up 3-1 in the 7th, the Cubs gave up the lead and, voila, the game was tied. So to the ninth inning and probably extra innings we go, right? Not with the third string catcher pinch hitting, we don’t. That’s right — the Cubs THIRD string catcher came in from off of the bench with bases loaded and 2 outs, and the count quickly ran to 0-2. But then, on the very next pitch, lightning struck.

When Miguel Montero stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS to face Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton with two outs and the bases loaded, I’m guessing even the most optimistic of Cubs fans didn’t expect to see a grand slam.

Montero is a two-time All-Star with 120 career home runs, but he had struggled during the regular season, hitting .216 with just eight home runs in 241 at-bats. When Blanton ran the count to 0-2, it seemed we’d be headed to the ninth inning with a tie game and Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman out of the game. The hero of Game 1 gave Cubs fans everywhere hope and a view through a periscope towards a favorable near future.

Ironically, he was about as low as you can go for a major league baseball player, but Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero’s struggles never got him down to the point of mailing it in. Instead, he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.

That moment came in a big way Saturday night, as Montero became the third player ever to hit a postseason, pinch-hit grand slam, and he propelled the Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. It was an instant classic featuring more managerial second-guessing than a regular season’s worth.

“I’m not going to do any good to anybody being a cancer and being upset about it and being a cry baby,” Montero said of losing playing time. “I’m not going to be a cry baby. I’m going to keep my head up, and whenever they give me a chance, I’m going to take advantage of it.”  And take advantage of it he did. Montero hit a 0-2 slider — the third one he saw in the short at-bat — out to right field off Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton and sent the crowd of 42,376 into hysteria. 

“Obviously, as a kid, you always dream of the situations,” Montero said. “And that’s what you live for. It’s easy to hit a grand slam in the first inning when nobody is actually screaming at it, and this one is a lot more special because it’s in front of this special crowd that we have, and you’re always looking for that.” (Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer)

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I love this part about Montero: he did not complain, mumble or grumble. Instead, “he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.”

And that’s what I’m going to do too.

I’ll Take An Arnold Palmer

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The combination of iced tea and lemonade is known as an “Arnold Palmer.” It’s a tasty blend of sweet and sour and soft and sharp and tart and tangy. And many who don’t like one or the other will like them both combined. It’s like having the best of both. 

“Think about it,” one sports writer said. “You don’t order a ‘Tiger Woods’ or a ‘Jack Nicklaus’ at the bar. You can go up there and order an ‘Arnold Palmer’ in this country — and every waiter and waitress know what the drink is. That’s being in a league of your own.”

Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

Palmer joined the PGA Tour in 1955 and won the Canadian Open for the first of his 62 titles. He went on to win four green jackets at Augusta National, along with the British Open in 1961 and 1962 and the U.S. Open in 1960, perhaps the most memorable of his seven majors because it defined his style. You could never count him out.

.Arnold Palmer charged across the golf course and into America’s living rooms with a go-for-broke style that made a country club sport popular for the everyman. At ease with presidents and the public, he was on a first-name basis with both.  Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

President Barack Obama tweeted about Palmer’s death, saying: “Here’s to The King who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold.”

Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and hard-charging style of play made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.

“And that’s why he’s the king.” On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it. Palmer never liked being referred to as “The King,” but the name stuck.

Palmer went head to head with Nicklaus two years later in a U.S. Open, the start of one of golf’s most famous rivalries. It was one-sided. Nicklaus went on to win 18 majors and was regarded as golf’s greatest champion. Palmer won two more majors after that loss, and his last PGA Tour win came in 1973 at the Bob Hope Classic.

 Golf writer Tom Callahan once described the difference between Nicklaus and Palmer this way:

It’s as though God said to Nicklaus, “You will have skills like no other,” then whispered to Palmer, “But they will love you more.”

“I’m not interested in being a hero,” Palmer said, implying that too much was made about his return from cancer. “I just want to play some golf.”  https://www.yahoo.com/news/arnold-palmer-dies-87-made-golf-popular-masses-012931638–spt.html 

And if we compare the game of golf to living life, then we all should just want to live a good one.