The professional athlete is our modern-day gladiator whose physical talents are on display for our entertainment. But even the best can strut their talents upon the public stage only momentarily.
Sadly, many fade away and are heard from no more.
But former NBA player Adonal Foyle adeptly bucks that trend. He has fused the oxymoronic terms erudition and professional athlete into correlatives that fuel the passions for his post-basketball life.
Foyle recently authored, "Too-Tall Foyle" a children's book series based on his life experiences. The book is specifically directed at ages 3-8.
"Research shows that kids who read at a very early age foster a love for reading, but also, those studies show that kids tend to do better in school, go on to college and are productive in life," Foyle said.
"The path to the NBA is not smooth, failure is part of it. But one should look at failure as an opportunity to learn, to try something else. The first series is about playing different sports, failing at it, until you find the sport that fits your skill set."
In his autobiographical sketch, Foyle discusses how, growing up in the Caribbean, he failed at cricket, soccer, track and field, before he discovered basketball, which led to his being a star player at Colgate University and becoming a first-round draft pick by the Golden State Warriors.
The proceeds for this book go toward the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, an organization he founded to use sports as a way to talk to youth about life issues. Through sports KLF discusses topics such as nutrition, AIDS education, sports psychology and the importance of reading.
"We want to find ways to create the next leaders of tomorrow. We believe that if you can put kids on the right path, you give them a better chance to be successful," Foyle said.
KLF will hold one of its summer camps at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, a center long known for being an oasis of possibility within the dry lands of nihilism that pervade the East Oakland community.
But Foyle's passion for youth did not start when his playing days ended. In 2001, he founded Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan student organization, as a means to counteract political apathy on college campuses.
Foyle's forthcoming book will be groundbreaking because he discusses why athletes go broke. He provides insight into the lives of young men and the sociological pressures that lead to an astounding statistic: Roughly 50 percent of NBA players are destitute within five years of retirement.
Foyle's impending book and his other work serve to attack the root causes of a systemic problem. Youths idolize professional athletes, based only on what they can see.
Foyle is attempting to catch young people early in life, to offer them tools so that they can pursue their athletic dreams with the knowledge that there are far more heart surgeons than professional basketball players.
On June 17, Foyle will host an inaugural golf tournament at the Moraga Country Club. The proceeds will benefit KLF. The tournament will begin at 11 a.m. with a reception and dinner at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the tournament, dinner or both can be purchased at Kerosenelampfoundation.org. If you are unable to attend, you can still make a direct contribution to this worthy organization.
Many, myself included, have cavalierly criticized the behavior of selfish athletes who have been granted incredible gifts, much public adoration and handsome rewards, only to squander it as they tumble into oblivion.
Let us rally around someone who is using his gifts to make the world a better place.