My Proudest Accomplishment

Of the few things I’ve accomplished in my life, starting two companies, graduating from a college I didn’t originally get in to, and winning a job entry contest, my proudest accomplishment is being a great big brother.

Before I even met Michael, he had already had a tough life. About 8 months into my mother’s pregnancy, he had had a stroke that nearly took his life. Although he had made it through that ordeal, he would have to live the rest of his life with epilepsy and hemiparesis. This brain damage meant he would periodically suffer from seizures, his mental capacity would be limited, and his entire right side would be significantly weaker than the average person’s.

With all these handicaps, I understood at a very young age that this wouldn’t be normal big-little brother situation. But that didn’t stop us from forming a strong bond. We still did all of the typical things brothers do: play sports outside, watch football games, and play video games.

Each of these came with challenges to overcome. We couldn’t play your typical video games because of the limitations of his right hand. So we played Wii games. He didn’t really understand football. So we had to watch a ton of games before he figured out which team we were rooting for (or how to root for them). With every obstacle we overcame our bond grew stronger.

Nowhere is this bond stronger than on the basketball court. Being from Miami, we’ve always had a good basketball team. We had Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway in the 90s, Dwade and Shaq in the 2000s, and Lebron in the 2010s. In short, Miami is a basketball town, so I would always play (even though I wasn’t very good). Since I was always playing he would always try to play. But how do you play basketball with one working hand? You have to dribble, catch, and shoot, all of which require good hands.

Like everything else, we figured out how to make it work. It started with catching. I wan’t going to chase down every shot of his and hand it back to him. So we tossed the ball back and fourth until he got it. Then came shooting. Because he had only used his left hand for all his life this came pretty easily. We figured out if he used his head to roll the ball into the proper position he could shoot extremely accurately. Or if the ball was on the floor he would roll it up his leg, scoop it at his hip, and bring it up to his head. Now not only does he love basketball. He is a gold medal winner in basketball for the state of Florida.

As I sit here writing this, I realize why I am the way I am. Because of his condition I learned problem solving, persistence, and optimism at a very young age.

So what is my proudest accomplishment? My brother Michael having a happy life.