Jeremy Lin has literally risen from obscurity into an overnight sensation. My Twitter feed and headlines flowed with Lin lingo: Be my VaLINtine, The Knicks Lin again, newfound followers call themselves Linatics—you get it. And I can’t get enough. I’m a sucker for a story about a kid who gets to live his dream amidst insurmountable setbacks and rejection. Hey, even President Obama, a fellow Crimson alum, might be a Linatic. Lin, a Harvard grad, has re-energized a love I haven’t had for basketball in at least 15 years. It’s not just that Jeremy Lin has me obsessing about when the Knicks play again, but he also reminds me of life lessons I try to teach my son—and ones we can all learn from, no matter what our age or current situation.
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At 6-foot-3, Jeremy Lin isn’t quite tall for a basketball player, where 6-foot-8 is more the norm. Though he was successful as a player in high school, top-notch colleges, including Stanford University turned him away. He ended up at Harvard after many rejections. Sure, Harvard isn’t quite low-brow, but Harvard doesn’t offer sports scholarships. Even after college, Lin wasn’t drafted into the NBA. He’s turned all of that rejection into a bit of a fairy tale. Note to my son: Believe in yourself and push through the naysayers.
Don’t Pretend to be Someone Else
Jeremy Lin didn’t come onto the court trying to mimic Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan or the two star Knicks players who were out on leave for various reasons (Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony). Instead, Lin plays hard and furiously, in his unique style. As a parent, I encourage my son to really be proud of who he is and not to pretend to be someone else. Ultimately, memorable people are original.
Remain Calm Under Pressure
I’ve watched, in amazement, at how calm Jeremy Lin is under the massive pressure he’s facing. Any new player would have jitters, but Lin’s bar has been set quite high. In a recent game Lin scored nearly 40 points, outscoring Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s stars, which means that expectations are quite high. You won’t see any signs of stress on the court. I wish I had a bit more of a poker face under pressure. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Jeremy Lin in an intense game against the Toronto Raptors, with only seconds left on the clock.
Education is Still Important
Jeremy Lin’s parents didn’t allow grades to become secondary. School was always important. I can almost hear my son grunt as I type this. My son plays competitive baseball pretty much all-year round. Despite hours of practice and games, he must still do well in school. And by well, I don’t mean mediocre grades. Knowing this factoid about Jeremy Lin helps my case tremendously.
Family is Everything
Up until recently, Jeremy Lin was sleeping on his brother’s couch. Yes, that’s right. When it came to hospitality, Lin counted on his brother’s (hopefully cushy and comfy) living room furniture to sleep on when he wasn’t playing or on the road. At the end of the day, family is everything. They will support you through tough times. As a family, we’re supportive of each other, but we’ve never been tested in a way my son can see that Latino families really do stick together.