Jimmer and China

A few weeks ago an article was written about Jimmer and his basketball season in China with the Shanghai Sharks.  It was brought to our attention that the article painted a negative picture of his life over there.  I didn’t think about that at the time when I first read it so I went back to read it over again.  I guess I can see what they mean.   It does sound a little bit bleak in some of the writer’s assessment of Jimmer’s life over there. He’s a really nice guy and a good writer but I think that maybe he was going for the dramatic affect and maybe his perception of what he saw was a little different than what Jimmer and my husband (who has spent many weeks over there) know to be true.  Some of his description of things over there made it seem a little more lonely or negative than it actually is for Jimmer.  Maybe the name “Jimo Dashen”, meaning the lonely master, got to the journalist.

After the article appeared in the Deseret News, another man, who currently lives in Shanghai and has met Jimmer, took offense to the the article because of the perceived dreary portrayal of Shanghai and published a rebuttal blog post. (Both articles are on my Facebook page) I must say after reading his blog , I can appreciate his thoughts on the Deseret News article.   I am actually grateful to him for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t think that people would take it that way but I guess some people did.  The last thing Jimmer and our family would want to do is to offend, in any way, the Chinese people and the great city of Shanghai. So I wanted to set the record straight concerning that.

My husband Al went over to China with Jimmer on the first trip last year.  I was so glad that Al was going to accompany him because, let’s face it, going that far away in a strange land, not knowing the language or what to expect, is a little intimidating for anyone. Jimmer’s wife was pregnant at the time, and understandably, she couldn’t go with him.  Not only is the length of the flight tough, but the time change throws you off for a few days, along with the jet lag.  They both were wiped out but also excited for the new adventure.

Right from the start, the Shark management, took good care of Jimmer.  They met him at the airport and had a Chinese English speaking gentleman, “Teddy”, who came to be Al and Jimmer’s sidekick for the entire time that they were there with the Sharks.  Al said he is such a great guy who wanted to make sure that they were comfortable and well taken care of during their stay in China. He would take the time to explain so many things to Al and Jimmer about the culture and their monetary system.  They got the hang of it pretty quickly, but if it were me, I’d still be wrestling with it.   Teddy was there to “show them the ropes” of  Shanghai.   He would teach them, or make suggestions as to what they should do and what they should not do so they would not inadvertently offend the Chinese people.   For example one of the first team dinners they had, they all were expected to take a drink of Saki (Sake) to honor the team and the coaches before the start of the season.  It’s customary over there to drink and toast this or that.  The interpreter explained to Al and Jimmer that it was considered disrespectful if you didn’t participate in the drinking part. It put Jimmer, as well as Al, in an awkward position because they don’t drink at all, but yet as the new guys, they didn’t want to give the impression that they were being anti-social or disrespectful.  Jimmer explained to the interpreter beforehand that he and his father were not going to drink anything other than water or something non-alcoholic when they did the toasts.  So that’s what they did….they raised their glasses of water for their toast.   Once it was explained to them (the team) by the interpreter, they all understood.  That’s just the way it was going to be.

They had a driver that took them to Jimmer’s apartment in downtown Shanghai and would be there the whole season to get him to the games and practices on time.  At the games there is always an interpreter for the import players (2 imports for each team) because the head coach didn’t speak much English at all.  The assistant coach was American but lived in Australia so he could help with the language barrier also.  I’m sure it was very confusing at first for Jimmer but he adjusted really well.  After all, it was basketball….something that he could figure out no matter what language they were speaking.  Surprisingly enough, he said that most of his teammates spoke English.  Some of them better than others.  That was very helpful.  I’m sure that they learned some things from Jimmer and he learned some things from them as well.  But ultimately, it was the team camaraderie that they felt.  Regardless of the language, they came to feel a bond with one another.  Jimmer genuinely has fond feelings and appreciates his teammates, his coaches, the trainers, and the entire staff of the Sharks organization as they reciprocated those feelings for him.  They support and encourage one another.

Now a few words about his apartment….  I know the first article mentioned that the apartment seemed lonely and cold, devoid of the homey feel that one might like.  My first thought was what young professional athlete, who is temporarily living away from their permanent home, cares about where they are staying as long as it is relatively clean, has a kitchen, TV, and a bed?  What athlete would go out and buy homey things like colorful throw pillows and accessories to liven up a temporary place?  Only a mother would do that, and to be honest, if I was over there, then I probably would have done that.  Wouldn’t have mattered one bit to Jimmer and to most guys, but it would have mattered to me.  Us mothers are like that sometimes.  I remember when Jimmer was staying in Westchester County for the Knick’s D league.  His apartment was in a high rise building.  It was small but nice.  When Al and I went to visit the first time, and this was before Whitney got there, it was bugging me that the couch was in the wrong position in the room and so were the coffee table, rug and lamps.  He had to go out to go to practice for a few hours and when he came back, I had completely rearranged the furniture.  Even though it had a small amount of furniture there, I thought the placement of it was crucial for Jimmer’s utmost comfort and coziness.  At least it was in my mind and it was important to me that he was comfortable.  Jimmer didn’t care one way or another but graciously told me that it looked nice when he came back.  He is a really neat person so it was never messy, but now I felt that it was a little more homey for him.  So I’m sure over in China, the apartment was just fine for him and didn’t signify loneliness or anything for that matter. It’s just what they had provided for him and it was fine.  The location was great. One of the first things that I asked Jimmer to do when he got there was to give me a tour of the place by facetime.  My thoughts were that it looked very clean and shining with beautiful hardwood floors.  It had more of a modern contemporary feel to it. He had at least one flat screen TVs, (maybe two), a washer and dryer and a kitchen. He was all set.  Was it cozy looking?…probably not by most mom’s standards, but it was nice.  If he has a TV and his ipad to facetime his family, that’s all that he needs.  As I said before,  I think the writer of the article just perceived it to be lonely looking for the dramatic effect of his story.  When I saw a recent video of his apartment, he had so many colorful sneakers around that it would be hard to feel down with all of that bright neon color! Who needs throw pillows for color when you have those brightly colored sneakers?

Both Jimmer and Al have told me of the beauty of the city of Shanghai.  There are flowers everywhere, interesting statues and art sculptures, beautiful high rise buildings that light up the sky with color at night, there is a Disney World amusement park, there are stores and malls so big that Al got lost in a few, there are street vendors eager to barter with you.  So many things to see and experience. So much history.   The first article mentioned the smog and bad air over in China.  Yes there are times that people choose to wear masks to shield themselves from an especially bad day, but as the man said in the blog, parts of Utah, where the man used to live, and many other cities have bad smoggy air sometimes too, so you can’t define a city with just that.  I have experienced it myself in Utah.  It’s what they call Inversion. It would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and bring in clean air but with large cities or areas with so many factories and traffic, it’s hard to keep it under control.  I know the writer of the first article was going for the gritty feel of the city of Shanghai and maybe it added to the dramatic theme of his story, but it wasn’t really an issue for Al or for Jimmer.

I remember Whitney saying that she felt so safe over there.  It’s probably because they have guards to monitor the streets for any signs of trouble.  Even at the games they have guards to keep order if it is needed.  I was worried that Al was going to be taken away if he didn’t stop yelling so much at the refs.  Ha!  I think they gave him a pass because he was Jimmer’s father.   It’s a Communist country and it’s something that you have to always keep in mind.  They do some things differently than we do here in the USA.

I think when Al went over there with Jimmer the first time, he was worried about what he was going to eat. Yup he’s always worried about that.   It’s no secret that when going to a different country, you may have to adjust to their cuisine. One of the first things Al said to me when we finally talked for the first time was that the food was amazing in Shanghai.  Anything that you can get over here in the USA, you can get over there. There is a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Wendy’s, lots of pizza places, seafood places. steak places, dessert places, fine dining places etc. etc. Anything that you want to eat, you can get….even great ice cream places.  I know that because I saw pictures of Jimmer and Whitney’s little girl with chocolate ice cream on her face.    He tries to eat healthy things to stay in shape so maybe it’s hard to decide what to eat sometimes, but the choices are certainly there. Are there places in China where the food is less desirable and inferior than in Shanghai?  Absolutely.  The team travels to some rural areas during the season that can’t provide all of the food options of Shanghai, but they plan for that and bring food for the team or the guys can bring their own snacks. There is sometimes the threat of food poisoning for the team members, or not being able to tolerate certain foods that they are not used to, so they have to be careful of that.  As a matter of fact, one of the imports did suffer from a bout of food poisoning and had to sit out a game.  But that’s also true for athletes or anyone in the USA…. or any country for that matter.

The article mentioned something about Jimmer just watched TV or movies in his downtime, and that’s probably true when he was alone, but when someone is over there with him, he ventures out on the streets and takes advantage of all there is to see. I think most people are like that.  It’s much more fun to have someone to share those things with than doing it on your own.  He goes out to the occasional get together or dinner with the coaches and team.  He goes out to shop when he wants or needs to go to a store.  When you’ve seen just about everything that there is to see in your area, what more can you do by yourself?  Besides Jimmer has time restraints everyday because everything is centered around practices, shoot arounds, travel and games. Sometimes he has to do endorsement obligations that can take up quite a bit of time.  That’s his job.  The time that he does have off, which is not much, he probably likes to stay put and relax from the exhaustion of a very busy schedule. I know one thing that he enjoys every day and does it as many times as he can in a day….. and that is Facetime with his family.  Thank heavens for modern technology.  It makes being away from your family a little more tolerable for the many people that have jobs far away from them.

I mentioned this before on Facebook but I’ll say it again, one thing I disagreed with wholeheartedly in the article is the statement that the writer made about Jimmer having no rhythm and not being about to dance.  What?!!!  Jimmer is known for being a terrific dancer.  That assessment most likely comes from a person that can’t dance at all so it’s hard to pick out a good dancer if you have no dancing skills of your own.  It has been my opinion over the years that most athletes can dance.  They are born with good hand/eye coordination and can find that rhythm when they hear a beat.  I have 3 brothers that were all good athletes and everyone of them can dance really well.  So does my other son and daughter…both good athletes.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but generally, athletes can dance.  So I really took offense to that comment.  It made him sound like he was awkward on the dance floor and nothing can be further from the truth.  The video that the guy put up of Jimmer and the wedding crew was a fun day for them.  Any confusion of the dance moves was because they put that dance together pretty quickly and had to perform under pressure for the bride and wedding guests.  Ha Ha.   It was fun to watch.

The CBA….I know that people say that the Chinese basketball league is an inferior league and it’s not as good as the NBA or the Euro-league and that’s probably true about the NBA,  but the Euro league, that’s just a matter of opinion.  Yes the NBA has the top basketball players in the world but there are some players that have been cut from the NBA, gone over to the CBA, and then work their way back to the NBA. There are a couple of Chinese players that played in the NBA for a few seasons but wanted to go back to play in their homeland. One example is a player named Yi Jianlian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks for a time. The competition in China can be a little weaker sometimes, depending on the team.  Some of the well known players that have played there or are still playing there, are Marshon Brooks, Carlos Boozer, JJ Hickson, Jason Thompson, Josh Smith, Gilbert Arenas, JR Smith, Metta World Peace, Tracey McGrady, Pooh Jeter, Chris Anderson (Birdman), Shavlik Randolph, Stephon Marbury of course, and many more. Some came over for a short time and went back to the NBA and some left basketball altogether but China was their choice of where to play, so it can’t be that bad.  Although the teams can only have 2 imports on a team, some of the Chinese players are very skilled, scrappy and can shoot the lights out!  It all depends on the team of course (that’s also true in the NBA) but to Jimmer, every game is a battle.  Because of his scoring abilities, he has become a target no matter where he plays.  To those who have said, oh of course he can score there, the competition is weak, I would challenge them to spend one game in Jimmer’s sneakers and see what it is like.  He is grabbed, scratched, tripped, elbowed, pushed, slapped and yes even head butted.  After some of the games he is sore and beat up. This season he came home with a black eye from an over zealous defender. They rotate fresh defensive players on him throughout a game in which their only assignment is to just stop Jimmer, never mind the ball, just stop him!  I don’t know how he can stand a guy two inches from his face all of the time and constantly touching him.  I guess he is used to it. The reffing is less than perfect (just ask my husband who has been there in person) so they let a lot of that kind of fouling happen for the most part.  Every once in awhile they will call a good game but seems like those games are few and far between.  I won’t say too much about that but there are articles written about the reffing in China and the CBA in general.  As I think back, I don’t even remember Jimmer being roughed up that bad in the NBA.  Almost every game is tough for him and I am still in awe of what he can do in spite of all of that.  But still he is enjoying it.  It’s a challenge and Jimmer always did love a challenge.  He is a starter and he plays the majority of the game. The worry that he is going to be taken out if he makes one mistake is gone.  The coach recognizes that sometimes he needs time to get warmed up and play through mistakes (a luxury he didn’t have in the NBA)….but when he catches that rhythm, watch out.  People sometimes think that Jimmer is just a shooter.  That was the misconception that the coaches had in the NBA.  They stuck him in the corner waiting for the ball that never came.  No doubt that he has the 3 point shooting talent, but I always say to people that he’s not just a shooter, he is a scorer, plain and simple. He’s been that type of player since he was a little boy.  He has a variety of shots.  He CAN create his own shot but I have heard so many announcers say that he can not.  Wow they haven’t really watched Jimmer if they say that.  That’s why he is so hard to stop.  If his 3 point shot is not working in some games, he tries something different.  He’ll take it in and score that way.  He is a great passer and sees the floor really well.  He is quicker and a lot stronger than people think.  You have to have a certain amount of strength and quickness to score like that.  So not only do the coaches and players in Shanghai have confidence in him, but he has gotten his own confidence back.  As a very astute and fair announcer said once when Jimmer was in the NBA, the talent that was on display at BYU has not gone away, it’s still there, but he hasn’t found the right situation yet where he can showcase that talent.  That was the frustration for all of us in the NBA.  That’s why going to China was a good move for him.  As the article said, he’s gotten his swagger back.  I could go on and on with this subject and my feelings, but I won’t.  I will move on.

I want to say something about the Chinese people.  Both Al and Jimmer have mentioned to me that they are the kindest, most loving, giving people that you would ever want to meet.  Very hard working.  He said that they have a sweet spirit about them… and they love their basketball.   Al has so many stories of encounters he has had with the Chinese people.  They are more than willing to help you if you just ask (and if they speak English.) He ventured out every day to experience some of the local color.  Sometimes he went with Jimmer if he had some free time, but mostly on his own. The population, of course, is mind blowing in Shanghai…about 24 million people, almost 3 times the population of NYC.  Some days are wall to wall people. Lots of activity and lots to see and do.   Sometimes Al got lost and sometimes he maneuvered himself around Shanghai pretty good.   He told me that because of Jimmer’s notoriety over there and the fact that Al’s face was frequently shown on TV during his games, that some people started to recognize him on the streets and asked for pictures with him.  He once walked by a group of armed guards that must have watched the games because they started talking back and forth with each other and as Al looked back, one of them was going through the motion of shooting a basketball.  They laughed as Al smiled and nodded yes at them.

My intention was not to slam the first article from the Deseret News about Jimmer’s life in China.  In fact, the journalist is a very good writer and the article was well written.  He spent alot of time researching it. He talked for hours with Al, Tj and his sister Lindsay on the phone. He flew over to Shanghai to spend some time with Jimmer.  If you scroll down to the end of his article, you will see a video in which he did a great job describing his findings of Jimmer’s life in China.  However, I just wanted to counteract any feelings that one might have had after reading it and coming away with the conclusion that Jimmer’s experience over there is not a good one.  On the contrary, it has been amazing.  Let’s just say that he is as happy as one can be living over there without his family by his side the majority of the time.  That’s probably where the journalist’s perceived melancholy feelings from Jimmer may have come from.  As Whitney said, he is pretty level headed and doesn’t get too high or too low.  He is a go with the flow type person.  To go back, one of the inaccurate comments in the article was that his brother TJ said that Jimmer became extremely depressed when he was with the Sacramento Kings.  Tj told me that he never used those words but rather he said that he was having a tough time.  When Jimmer heard that he quickly said that he wasn’t depressed and that was too strong a word, but frustrated was the correct word for the situation at the time. Again I guess for the writer, the word depressed was more dramatic. He was going through alot of adjustments.  I was there for his first year in the NBA so I was sharing in that frustration, as was all of our family. Did he get on his knees for strength and guidance as it was written in the article? I didn’t see that myself like Tj did, but I would say, knowing Jimmer, that it was absolutely true.  Jimmer is such a positive thinking person that he doesn’t dwell on things too much and moves forward.  Tj always told him that you have to have a “short memory” in sports. It’s a term used that means that you can’t stop to think about a mistake that you may have made on the court because otherwise if you do, you will loose your focus and it will take you mentally out of the game.  That term can also be used in life in general.  Have a short memory and not dwell on past mistakes or even the injustices that happen.  That is good advice. I think Jimmer lives his life like that.  He could have very easily harbored resentment against the NBA, but he chose to have that short memory and look ahead at other opportunities and it landed him into another round of Jimmermania.  He is grateful to everyone of his fans in the USA and now in China.  So yes after awhile when he is in China towards the end of the season, he is ready to come back to the USA because like anyone else, you can’t be totally happy without your family by your side. This is his job and it is a way to give his family a good life.  It’s also doing what he loves. He is so appreciative for the fans that he has, the people that he has met and the opportunities that he has been given.  I know that he has a grateful heart for his blesssings, as do we as his family.

One last thing that I really pondered a lot is when the article mentioned that this was not the way that it was suppose to happen. In other words, he was saying that Jimmer’s dream was that he was suppose to be successful and playing in the NBA and he wasn’t suppose to be playing in China.  My thoughts are maybe this is EXACTLY the way that it was suppose to happen. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, as they say, but sometimes it’s just the right pitch.  Life is not only about basketball. It’s about learning, and growing, and experiencing all kinds of things in our journey.  If he didn’t go to China, he would have not met all of the people that he has met. He would have not experienced another culture and learned about life in a country different than our own.  He would not have gotten the opportunities that were made available to him and will be in the future if he stayed sitting on the bench in the NBA.  He belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Who knows if he has influenced someone there in a largely non-Christian country to investigate what he believes.  Maybe there is a reason why he is there other than to play basketball.  Those are questions many people have thought about.  He has one more year under contract with the Shanghai Sharks.  After that who knows what will happen.  Maybe he will again play in the NBA and maybe he won’t, but make no mistake about it, Jimmer has alot of basketball left to be played and wherever he goes, he will bring with him the light that he has, a positive attitude, and a work ethic that any team would want.  Time will tell.

I have posted some pictures and a video to show you some of the experiences that he has had in China over the past two years.  The final video was last year when he won the MVP trophy.  What’s not to love over there?  The first 4 pictures were taken as he arrived back in China for the second season.  How great for a mother’s heart to see that.  Thank you to the Shanghai people.  Right now Jimmer is home in Colorado with his wife and his daughter (and their great dog George)….another perk of China basketball is that it’s a short season so it means more family time for him.

Take care everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Kay

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wes wit jimmer at bund

At a place called “THE BUND”.  Beautifully colored buildings to see.

wes wit at bund

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Wesley was the star on the streets.

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jimmer in China

got her Disney ears in Shanghai.

Jimmer giving talk in China

accepting an award

colorful scarves

Beautiful silk scarves that Al brought home for me.

jimmer and roger federer

Got to meet his all time favorite professional tennis players, Roger Federer, who had a tournament over there in China. He said he was a really nice guy. Liked him alot.

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memories of a lifetime

pink building

great wall

Great Wall of China in Bejiing…about 2 hours away from Shanghai.

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Wonderful lady who was a photographer for the team.  Al said she is in her 80s.

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Meeting Mr. Kelly….

This post is a departure of what we usually write about here on this blog but it goes along with the theme and mission of our Fredette Family Foundation…. and that is to help and be of service to one another in any way that we can.

I want to tell you of an unexpected time that I had the opportunity to help and be of service to someone.   I’m not sure that I told my children (maybe I mentioned it in passing to Lindsay, my daughter) but if they read this they will read it for the first time. This is not to brag about helping someone, but rather I’m considering it a blessing for me to help this man named Mr. Kelly, who I’ve never forgotten, even though it was more than 20 years ago.  On this day he called me his guardian angel.  Let’s just say that I received much more than I gave to him.  This is my story.

The time of year was in late Fall when the nights were starting to get very cool.  For some reason, and I can’t even remember why, I was coming in on the Amtrak train from NYC to the Ft. Edward, NY station, about 50 miles north of Albany.  My husband was scheduled to pick me up at 9:00 PM.  Finally we got to my stop and I exited the train.  I was the only person that was to get off there…so I thought.  My husband was not there yet but I knew that he would be coming along soon, so I stood under the overhang of the rooftop of the station.  This particular station and its services for passengers coming in had been long since abandoned and there was no activity or signs of life around this old, crooked, dark building.   The only light I had was from the street light that was adjacent to me.

Usually when all of the passengers exit the train at their destinations, the door closes swiftly behind them and they take off immediately.  This night they didn’t speed away as I expected.  I noticed when I exited and turned around to face the train about 20 feet away, in the light of the doorway, stood the conductor talking to a man.  He was a smallish older gentleman with white hair.  As I observed them further, I noticed that the white haired man had an oxygen tank that he wheeled along side of him.  They spoke for a few minutes and I could sense that there was a desperate aura around both of them.  From the hand gestures of the older man, I could tell that he was upset over something.  The conductor seemed to be in a quandary as to what to do because he was under pressure to keep the schedule of the train.

Finally the conductor looked out of the train and spotted me standing there under the very dimly lit area.  He came out to me carrying the man’s suitcase, set it down beside me, and asked if I could help this man. He needs a ride.  To his great relief, I said sure I’ll help him.  The conductor assisted the man out of the train with his oxygen tank and they both came over.  The conductor thanked me and the man just nodded with a smile.  I hadn’t even done anything yet, but I guess I relieved the anxiety that both of them were experiencing at the time. I felt no fear of this small, white haired stranger even though it was just him and I in an area with very little light.   How afraid would anyone be of a small old man with tubes in his nose from the oxygen tank that assisted him with his breathing?  The conductor waved to us, hurried back to the train and it soon departed.

The man and I introduced ourselves and as he told me his name, both first and last, all I picked up was his last name….Kelly.  So I just called him Mr. Kelly.  He was a very friendly, animated man and it didn’t take me long to notice that he didn’t speak like a person from the USA.  He had a thick accent that was unmistakable to me as to where he was from. I could hear that he was from England and I was guessing, but almost certain, that he was from a particular part of England because he spoke just like The BEATLES did!  Not like the royal family British accent, but from Beatle-land!!!…. Liverpool, England!!!  Anyone that knows my group of friends from our teenage years, knows that we LOVED the Beatles.  We actually were able to go to Shea Stadium, thanks to one of my aunts who lived in that area, to see them in concert.  Yes, we were fanatics and picking up on someone else that spoke in that particular accent and dialect was easy!  It’s like the difference in how a person from Brooklyn, NY speaks as opposed to upstate NY.  Very different and very distinguishable.  So I proceeded to ask him where he was from….sure enough, he was from Liverpool, England!

Mr. Kelly told me that he was under the impression that there would be a full service train station here and that he would be able to catch a taxi or a shuttle service to get to his hotel.  It was then that I realized how desperate and fearful he must have felt as he looked out the window of the train approaching his stop.  It was not filled with the activity of a full service train station, but rather a dark, desolate, empty train station.  Ft. Edward, NY is a great, friendly, little town, but it’s a very small town where most people settle in for the night and there is not much action on the streets.  Anyone of us can imagine the fear that Mr. Kelly must have felt being in, not only in an unknown dimly lit town, but in an unknown country.  An able bodied Mr. Kelly could have gotten some help somewhere by someone…. but this was a vulnerable, weakened man depending on oxygen to keep him alive.

He was here to have a reunion with some of his old friends and they choose to meet in beautiful Lake George, NY.  Seemed like it was on their “bucket list” to meet one last time. When I look back I think about the determination and great desire he had to fulfill this last journey in his life.  It clearly wasn’t an easy trip for him to make.  Since his friends also weren’t very familiar with this area, they assumed Mr. Kelly would not have a problem getting a taxi to bring him up to the hotel.  This was back in the days when we didn’t have the convenience of calling someone on their cell phone.

My husband, Al, soon arrived and I told him that we needed to give this man a ride up to Lake George.  If you know Al, you know how kind and charitable he is.  He would have carried the man up there on his back if he had to just to help him out, so of course he said… “hop in, no problem.”  Mr. Kelly insisted that we didn’t need to do that but rather  just give him a ride to where he could make a phone call or to a taxi service.  He was such a nice man and so grateful just to be in contact with people willing to help him in this strange, unfamiliar country.  We wouldn’t hear of that and gave him a ride straight up to the Lake George hotel.

We let him sit in the front seat to make it easier on him with his oxygen tank and put his luggage in the back.  I sat in the middle of the back seat so I could eagerly lean forward to hear him talk.  I so enjoyed hearing that accent.  Of course it didn’t take me long to ask the big question.  I couldn’t resist.  After all, he was from the land of The Beatles.  “Did you ever see the Beatles play in Liverpool?” I asked.   He laughed a little and was very forthcoming with his stories about the Beatles.  I was thrilled to hear, yes, he did see them.  He called them “lads” and said he saw them before they were called “The Beatles”.  He said they were called the Quarrymen and several other names before they settled on The Beatles.  I knew he was right because I was an expert on the history of The Beatles.  They were just starting out when Mr. Kelly would see them and there were guys that were in and out of the original band.  They were a work in progress but they were beginning to become popular in the area “pubs,” as he called them.  Little did Mr. Kelly know how popular they would become.  He said that many similar group bands were springing up all over Liverpool and all over the whole country of England.  It was called the British Invasion when they began to filter into the United States.  If you grew up anywhere near the 60s, you are well aware of those times. What great music that was and actually still is.  It was like a walk back to my teen years as Mr. Kelly talked.  So we very much enjoyed our conversation with his lively personality with an intriguing Liverpool accent.  He called it a “scouser” accent for those of you interested in looking it up.  Just a thought I’ve always had….have you ever noticed that when a person that has a British accent or any accent, sings, the accent goes away?  Interesting how that happens.  It definitely happened in the Beatles’ music.

Finally we arrived up at the hotel in Lake George.  We helped him in and waited to make sure that his friends were there.  They were….and he invited them down to meet us.  Very nice also and were grateful after they heard that there was no transportation for Mr. Kelly at the station other than us….he obviously was their much loved friend.  They asked us if they could take us to dinner the next night but unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.  Before we left, we exchanged addresses so we could maybe keep in touch.  The next day sometime during late morning, I got a knock on the door.  As I looked out, I saw a big beautiful bouquet of flowers ready to be delivered to me.  I looked at the card and it read….”To my guardian angel.”  Thank you….(signed) Mr.  Kelly

I think when he got back to England, we wrote at least one time to each other but that was it.  Mr. Kelly was not a well man.  He told us of a heart problem that he had and after listening to him struggle to breathe, I understood that this trip was probably the last trip that he would take.  I felt strongly that he probably passed away a couple of months after he arrived home.

Some might say how lucky he was to have me there to help him to his destination…. but I say how lucky and blessed I was to meet such a wonderful, lovely, friendly man like Mr. Kelly.  I’m sure that 100% of those reading this would have done the same thing to help this man, so I don’t feel special in that way, but I feel like maybe I was meant to be there at that time to meet him.  What a blessing and a privilege it was for me.

I think that opportunities and certain special situations in life are all about timing.  Some good, some bad.  You hear people say that you were in the “right place at the right time” and you also hear about being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”  I think that we sometimes find ourselves in a situation on God’s perfect timing.  My husband is never late and he is very respectful of me when it comes to picking me up….but on this night, for the first time, he was late.  If he hadn’t been late, I would have been gone and there would have been no one there to help this man…. who actually reminded me of my father.  I believe that was an example of God’s timing.

Mr. Kelly said that I was “his guardian angel” and I’d like to think that that was true.  I wasn’t a guardian angel in the mystical sense where I appeared out of nowhere then magically disappeared.  (although I believe that can happen and has happened to people).  There used to be a song back in the Oldies era called “Earth Angel”.   I think that’s maybe what I was…an earth angel for Mr. Kelly.  Every single one of us has the chance or potential to be someone else’s “earth angel”.  Those opportunities present themselves to us every day.  A kind word or a kind gesture may be all it takes to change someone’s day…. or even someone’s life.

Would Mr. Kelly have made it to his hotel in Lake George without my help?  Yes maybe he would have, but not without much fear and anxiety for him.  I think he would have had to sit down on someone’s porch steps so that he could rest. The center of town where he may have possibly found a phone or a place open, was about a quarter of a mile away….that’s over 1300 steps that this poor man would have had to take wheeling his oxygen tank and carrying his luggage through an unknown, lonely, dark street.  He would have had to choose whether to go left or right, and if he guessed wrong, it would have taken him on an even longer route. The average person would have no problem making it up the street, but for Mr. Kelly and all of his health challenges, it would have been tough.

So the point of my story is that you never know when you are going to be called upon and be given the honor and priviledge to be of service to someone else…..someone’s earth angel.  I’m sure many of you have stories like this and have received the blessing of being able to help someone in need.  The “feeling” that you receive when you have helped someone and gone that extra mile is something very special.  It’s like on Christmas day….we all like to get a present or two but how much more fun and special is it to watch someone open something that you picked out for them.  It’s no accident that are spirits soar and we feel good when we do something nice for someone else. It’s how we are all wired.  Just like when we do something bad to someone or do something wrong, we feel bad inside.

In closing, this is not to say that you don’t have to be careful in helping out total strangers, because you do, but in the case of Mr. Kelly, my instincts told me that he was no one to fear and I think if you rely on that and the spirit, you will know too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Kay

This is what the train station looks like now. I don’t think it is in service now either, but it was renovated and painted and they tried to put a little restaurant and shop in there. When my story happened, it was not painted, and looked very scary and abandoned. There were no lights anywhere except from the street light across from where I stood. Can you imagine Mr. Kelly’s thoughts as we pulled into it?

This is the lonely dark street that Mr. Kelly would have had to walk down to the middle of town.

 

 

 

 

 

FROM CHINA TO DENVER – THE ONE CONSTANT FOR JIMMER

If the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun,” has any merit, and I believe it does, then Jimmer’s trip home to Denver over Chinese New Year break must have felt like it was over within less than a nano second. I mean let’s face it, when you’re dealing with a 13 hour flight one way, the amount of hours you spend relaxing on your four day trip is literally almost equivalent to the amount of hours you spend in the air. Some might say that with that kind of flight to vacation time ratio, the long haul across the planet might not have even been worth the jet lag for Jimmer. However, I guess anyone who would say that, surely didn’t take into account exactly what Jimmer was going home for.

The drastic ups and downs of Jimmer’s roller coaster of a career could make the rides at Six Flags look like a slide at Chuck E. Cheese. The highs and lows can be overwhelming, and at times be very difficult to put into proper perspective. Fortunately for Jimmer, throughout it all, there has always been one crucial constant. Whether he was lighting it up at the Garden, sitting at the end of the bench in New Orleans, gazing out the window of his hotel room after a D League back to back in Des Moines, with 30 below winds whipping across the cornfields outside, or he was clear across the Pacific Ocean, hitting game winning free throws in Singapore in front of a crowd full of ecstatic non-English speaking fans, he’s always had that one constant to help him stay grounded. That one constant, is the exact thing that he was beyond thrilled to hop on a 13 hour flight last week to go see…. even if it was only for a short while. That one constant, is his family. His wife Whitney who he adores, and who is now carrying their first child due to be born in less than a month, and his picture perfect Golden Retriever named George, who lights up like a stadium every time Jimmer returns home. His family was there before the fame, during the fame, and will still be there when the fame is long gone. They’ve been there through his most challenging moments, to take on his struggles with him, and help lift him up when the pitfalls of an unforgiving spotlight tried to keep him down. They were there to celebrate with him, when the thrills of success were thrust upon him in abundance. They were there to help him make some of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make in his life (well, maybe George had no part in the decision making process, but certainly Whitney). Those tough decisions include the decision to make a heartfelt sacrifice to leave his family behind and travel across the world to begin a new, exciting, but somewhat scary chapter of his career, in a country that he had never been to, and really knew nothing about. They were there through it all, and are there at this very moment, as his career in China begins to soar to heights we never knew would be possible on another continent.  Knowing that they are there. . . there at home, waiting for him to return after months of being away. . . there on those days when it seems like everything on the court is going against him. . . there when a sports reporter paints  a picture of negativity on the canvas of his career, there when he puts up 51 and leads his team to a big victory. . . but even more importantly, there when everything goes quiet, when the spotlight is no longer targeting his every step, when the critics no longer have him on their radar, and the fans have moved on to the next big thing. Those are the moments when Jimmer realizes more than ever, that he already has everything he needs. His wife, and his family…that is the one constant. They are what made 26 total hours on a plane for only a four day stay, way beyond worth it for Jimmer. They are always there, and that’s what keeps him grounded, and that’s what keeps him happy. . . no matter what.

…Now for a quick update on the Sharks. Coming off of the Chinese New Year Break, the Sharks were able to fight off a rusty start, to come back after being down 14 points to Qingdao, picking up another big victory and keeping their undefeated home streak alive. Jimmer lead the team with 37. Now the Sharks prepare for the last couple weeks of the regular season as they fight tooth and nail to enter the playoff picture as the number one seed. With some red hot teams out there neck and neck with the Sharks, such as Carlos Boozer and the Guangdong Southern Tigers, hanging on to that one seed will certainly be a challenge – but one I believe that Shanghai is up for! Stay tuned to see how the rest of this exciting regular season unfolds, as the CBA gears up for an intense, competitive playoff run!

Here are some pictures and a video of some of the beautiful sites in Shanghai.

george-and-crew

jimmer-whitney This is why he traveled so far for only 4 days at home.

jimmer-whit

whitney-jimmer-baby-almost-here

and baby makes 3… but 4 when you count George

 

e979c831605c6b3380a41815a0892e92

0b9cd880cb98f6d41ac4bb578a95f5ff                                 back to work….

all-star-game        jimmer-being-interviewed            china-pic

Beautiful sunset...they are 12 hours ahead of us normally but with the time change it's 13 hours ahead now.

Beautiful sunset…they are 12 hours ahead of us normally but with the time change it’s 13 hours ahead now.

 

 

BIG NIGHT IN MY PARENT’S HOMETOWN…

This past week in the small town of Whitehall, New York, the town where my parents grew up, something very inspirational took place at the local High School. The Whitehall Railroaders varsity basketball team took the court Friday night in front of a packed hometown crowd to play what would certainly be the most memorable game of the season. During the game, one of the players, a young man by the name of Evan St Clair, reached the special milestone of scoring the 1,000th point of his high school career. Evan is a very talented player who comes from a gifted athletic family, and myself and the rest of the Fredettes want to congratulate him on his wonderful achievement. He definitely has a very bright future as a talented athlete, and we wish him the best of luck with the rest of his career!

As special as Evan’s 1000 point achievement was, it wasn’t the only exciting moment of Friday night’s game. Evan’s teammate and first cousin, another talented St Clair named Danny, also gave the Railroader enthusiasts reason to get up out of their seats and cheer. Danny’s presence on that court alone Friday night was cause for a standing ovation. Just by stepping out on that gym floor, sporting that maroon and white Whitehall jersey, Danny provided everyone in attendance a true moment of heart warming inspiration.  His fight for that very moment, to be able to be back on that court with his childhood friends, representing his school and his community with pride, was one of unwavering determination and bravery. A fight that no kid should ever have to endure, but one that Danny proved to be strong enough to take on.

For awhile now, Danny StClair has been battling a very challenging bout of cancer. I can only imagine the obstacles that stood in his way as he literally fought for his life. . . but Danny showed everyone this past week, that fighting for his life meant that he was fighting for more than just his survival. He was fighting to get back the same life that he had before he was diagnosed with cancer.  He was fighting for that moment when he could lace up his sneakers, throw on his warm ups, and run out on to that court with his teammates once again. . . and this past Friday night, after months of grueling adversity, that’s exactly what he did.  All the pain, all the tribulation, and all the moments of doubt, had finally been overcome when he touched the ball for the first time during Friday night’s game.  His story has certainly inspired me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been uplifted by Danny’s courage and resilience.

What an amazing night it was in the little town of Whitehall. I know that my grandfather, a man who devoted his whole life to Whitehall athletics and working with young athletes to help mold them into successful people on and off the playing field, was certainly looking down from heaven with pride as Evan and Danny represented the town in such a monumental way. So I just wanted to say  Congratulations guys! You boys really put on a show.  It was an inspiring performance that so many of us, will surely never forget.