Robert Foreman lowered his hand and let out a sigh. All the other young men around him were doing the same thing. Everyone was anxious. Nervous. Excited. Robert turned and walked out of the room. It was June 18, 2002 and he had just swore an oath and enlisted in the United States Army.
It seemed like just yesterday that Robert was waking up on September 11, 2001 to see the World Trade Centers get hit with the second plane. The initial feeling when seeing that plane disappear in to the building was shock. Robert didn’t know how to feel about it. When he went to school that day and saw the tears streaming down his fellow students’ faces he became enraged. What type of people would cause so much damage? Why would someone want to kill so many innocent people? Robert didn’t know these answers yet, but he wanted to find out. He would.
Now Robert walked outside of the military building where he just enlisted. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. He called his father. His family was aware of his plans to join the military. His mother was incredibly emotional when Robert told her, but Robert could see the proud look upon his father’s face. When Robert’s father gave that look of approval, Robert knew he made the correct decision. His father answered, “Hello?”
“It’s official,” replied Robert, “I leave in seven days.”
A taxicab pulled up the long uphill street. Robert sat in the back of it. All he had was his backpack in the back seat with him. His green duffel bag sat in the trunk of the taxicab. Robert stared out the window. The last four years had been extremely rough on Robert. He had fought terrorists in Iraq for a total of fifteen months. Fired his rifle in the streets of Somalia for six months. Interrogated insurgents in Afghanistan for twelve months. He had been deployed in the Army for a total of thirty-three months out of his forty-eight month enlistment. Now it was July 02, 2006 and he was traveling home.
The taxicab pulled up to a small house. This was the residence where Robert’s parents were living at in a small town called Susanville. Though the town was painfully small and dead, there was a junior college present. Robert stepped out of the taxicab and took a breath of the fresh air. A smile came across Robert’s stern face. He had a scar that was visible on his neck. It fell to his shoulder and back like scattered burn marks. This is where he had been hit with shrapnel in Iraq. He turned to the driver who was pulling out the duffel bag from the trunk. The driver stared at the green army duffel bag for a quick second. A look of sympathy came across his face as he handed it to Robert. He looked up at Robert realizing he was in the military, “Thank you for your service.” Robert nodded and took the bag. As Robert walked up the steps of the house, a feeling swept over him. Relief. The journey was over, he was officially out of the military.
It was the State Championship for the Western Coast League. Lassen Community College was playing against Sacramento City College. The date was March 03, 2008. The second were winding down. Lassen trailed Sacramento 77-78. Robert, the star point guard for Lassen, brought the ball up with only seven seconds to play. Sacramento tried to press Lassen, but Robert spun right around his man. A second man squared up in front of him, but Robert only needed a crossover to shake the defender loose. Robert stared at the court in front of him as he passed half court. Only three Sacramento defenders were on this side of the court and Robert had three teammates running with him. An off the ball screen was set and Lassen’s center, Trevor Ward, was free. Trevor broke for the basket and Robert passed a line drive to Trevor’s chest. He caught the ball and shot the ball off the glass. The ball fell through the basket as the buzzer went off. Lassen had won the state championship! Robert ran and jumped in to Trevor’s arms. Robert’s journey had been very different from those of his young teammates, but nonetheless, he enjoyed the victory just as much. He wasn’t done yet. Now he would try to walk on the California Golden Bears Division One basketball team as a twenty-five year old junior.
Robert was called in to his coach’s office. Robert had walked on at the University of California Berkley, his dream college. He had only seen the court once though. He was disappointed that he only played once his junior year, but he was grateful to be living his dream of playing on a college basketball team. He entered the office and his coach looked at him, “Take a seat Robert.”
Robert sat down, “Yes sir?”
The coach smiled and continued, “Look Robert, you possess one of the greatest basketball minds I have ever come across. You know the game so incredibly well. Your basketball IQ is through the roof. Unfortunately those three knee surgeries in the Army have taken their toll.”
Robert thought about the everyday pain he went through because of his knee injury. He has been blown up in Iraq while on patrol. Along with three knee surgeries, he had a huge scar on his shoulder, neck, and back. His coach continued, “I think you and I both know you are going to be buried on the bench your senior year.” Robert had thought about it, but hoped something would change. “Robert, I want you to come back next year, but not as a player. I want you to join the coaching staff as an assistant coach. This will give you coaching experience and will help you move in to a career in basketball, if that’s what you want.”
Robert thought about it. He looked down at the ground, his eyes swelling with tears. These weren’t happy tears. All Robert wanted was to play college basketball, just to start a game for a Division I school. His dream was over. He should be thankful for the job offer, he thought. He looked up at his coach, fighting back tears, “Yes sir, I would like to come back as a coach next year.”
Robert had enjoyed the year he was an assistant coach. He had gone on a scouting trip at the end of his first year coaching and found his true love. Scouting. All he wanted to do was scout players. Figure out who would best fit the system at Cal. It was now the spring of 2012. This was his second season as a scout for the college program he loved so dearly. His job was particularly hard because the star players didn’t want to come to Cal. They would rather go to UCLA or Arizona. Robert had to find the diamonds in the rough. He found that his favorite spot to look was internationally. He loved the international game dearly. Being an American, some people found it hard to wrap their minds around the fact that Robert loved the international players so much. Robert was in Canada watching a camp put on by the local high school in Vancouver when his phone rang. It was the coach at Cal, “Hey Robert, you have a second?”
Robert responded, “Absolutely sir.”
The coach continued, “So I have some interesting offers for you. You have done a lot for our program here at Cal and I wanted to return the favor. Your mind is too great to rot here at Cal. Plus it’s hard to recruit internationally, which is something we have noticed you love.” Robert had no idea where this conversation was going, but the coach went on, “I have some friends around the NBA. I talked you up a great deal and you have multiple offers from NBA teams to become an international scout for the organizations.”
Robert was shocked. Thrilled. He almost shouted in to the phone, “The NBA!? Are you serious coach? That is amazing. Who are the teams?”
Robert heard the coach chuckle through the phone. He was most likely laughing at the excitement of Robert. It was rare to see emotions out of Robert, “The Kings, Celtics, Knicks, Grizzlies, and Clippers.” Robert couldn’t believe it. Five teams were interested in his services. Who would he choose? The coach closed the conversation, “Take your time, we don’t need a decision right away. Just within the next couple weeks. They are all excited to hear from you.”