As a 2 year old, my son made his first basket in a 10 foot hoop, after one of his dad’s basketball games playing as an American on the JBL -Japanese Basketball League. By the time Landen was 4 years old, he dreamed about playing basketball in the NBA someday. Back then, Space Jam the movie had just come out and he thought Michael Jordan was the coolest basketball player ever! He watched that movie over and over until he began having Space Jam dreams where he was a part of the movie and he played ball against MJ. Landen also wore a Space Jam jersey as often as he could and pretended he was Michael Jordan. As a 5 year old, he already loved the LA Lakers. I bought Landen a mini-sized Shaq (Shaquille O’Neil) #34 Laker’s jersey and his dad took him to a L.A. Lakers v. Portland Trailblazers game. Our friend, Shawn Rooks played for L.A. and Landen got to go into the locker room after the game. Wow! Kobe put 5 yr. old Landen on his lap and laughed and joked with him and signed his jersey. Shaq also came over commented on Landen’s ‘cool jersey’ and say with him and talked to him about his dream of being 6’11” someday and playing for the L.A. Lakers. Then Shaq signed his jersey, as did many others on the team. It was so much fun! Landen knew that he wanted to be there in that locker room someday, as an NBA all-star.
There was a video out at that time called “Give me the Rock”. It featured NBA greats, such as David Robinson and Avery Johnson, who talked about their love of basketball, their faith in God, and their desire to spread the love of Jesus. I was so excited that these famous athletes also loved God and talked about it. Landen watched the video often and began telling people that he wanted to play saxophone and join the Air Force like David Robinson. He eventually wrote a paper about David Robinson as his hero in the 5th grade, and continued to dream of being a Christian NBA all Star so that he could make a difference all over the world. Landen really wanted to be good and wanted other kids to look up to him someday like he looked up to these guys. By sixth grade, his favorite team was still the L.A. Lakers and his favorite player was Kobe. We were living in Japan again when Kobe hit 81 points in a game against Toronto! I ordered a commemorative banner from the Lakers, celebrating this amazing game. It hung over Landen’s futon and it reminded him of America and his basketball dreams and goals. In 7th grade, his dad told him it was time to decide exactly how serious he was about basketball. He told Landen that he probably needed to focus on basketball year round, if that was the sport he loved. We told our son that he could earn a scholarship to college and play ball like his dad did. And the rest is history. Landen surely did earn himself a full ride to KU. Last year he completed his undergraduate degree and this year as he enjoys his senior year competing with a fantastic team, while working on his MBA!