Last Monday night, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, a private plane soared through the night sky en route to the United States. On board that plane was a soon to be first time father who was anxiously awaiting touching down in Denver. This was the 3rd time in only a matter of weeks that this soon to be father had taken on the grueling task of traveling 6,696 miles from Shanghai, China to his home in Colorado. As he sat upon the beautiful aircraft gazing out over the sea, thoughts of fatherhood raced through his mind.
Fast forward. . . three days later, Jimmer (the soon to be father) and his wife Whitney, are now at the hospital anticipating their big moment. Meanwhile in Sacramento, my cell phone was on high alert as I eagerly awaited receiving the special announcement text, which could now come at anytime. As the night went on I received numerous texts, but not one of them was the one I was most hoping for. Then once two in the morning rolled around, I realized that little Wesley James was operating on her own time table.
Back in China, around the time that the sun was coming up in Denver, Jimmer’s Shanghai Sharks were just taking to the court to play their first CBA playoff game in years. Obviously when they took to that court, they did so without their leading scorer. When tip-off ensued, that leading scorer was all of the 6,600 miles away in Denver, now on only two hours sleep as he started worrying that the birth of his new baby girl might not take place before his flight back to China was due to depart. Jimmer was now facing the dilemma of choosing to miss his flight, and in doing so assuring that he would also miss his teams 2nd playoff game, or choosing to keep his flight, which would mean he would have flown all of the way from China, only to just miss the once in a lifetime birth of his first child. Hours later that decision was made even more difficult, when Jimmer received the news that his Sharks had just dropped game 1 of their first playoff series by 40 points. Game 2 was only a day and a half away. The Sharks needed Jimmer, and Jimmer knew it.
Not too long after the news of the Sharks loss hit home, I was rolling out of bed. Immediately I took to my phone, expecting some good news to be waiting for me – but still no word had come. The waiting game continued.
Eventually came 1:46 PM Denver time. That very minute is a time that will be etched in the brain of my little brother for the rest of his life. It was at exactly 1:46, when a man who had achieved many milestones in his life as a successful basketball player, had suddenly reached a new milestone – one that would undoubtedly dwarf any others that he had ever reached. This is a man who had broken the Glens Falls High School all time scoring record, the Section 2 all time scoring record, the BYU all time scoring record, the BYU single game scoring record, the Mountain West Conference single game scoring record. . . a man who he had lead the NCAA in scoring in 2011, won the John Wooden Award, won the Oscar Robertson award, won the James Naismith National College Player of the Year award, won an ESPY for the male athlete of the year award. . . a man who reached his ultimate dream by being drafted into the NBA in the 2011. . . a man who had achieved all of these prestigious accomplishments and many more. . . but even with all of these incredible successes under his belt, none of them could even come close to comparing to the feeling that he felt at 1:46 on this past Friday afternoon, when that man officially became a father. Just hours before Jimmer was set to fly back to China, Wesley James Fredette made her appearance into the world. This beautiful baby girl was born just one day before her father’s birthday. Holding his little daughter in his arms for the first time was an experience that Jimmer said was the greatest moment of his life. The 13 hour flight to be there for that monumental moment was nothing. If the flight was 100 hours, it would have been a very small price for Jimmer to pay to be there for what he later told us was an absolutely surreal experience. One that will live on in his memory forever.
When I finally personally received the text that I had been waiting to receive for over 24 hours, it was a thrilling moment, but also for me, a very hard concept to even grasp. My little brother… my once curly haired sidekick who had tagged along with my friends and I no matter where we went. . . my best little buddy who I used to bounce on the trampoline with in the backyard. . . my right hand man who was the water boy for every sports team I ever played on. . . my best friend, my main man who looked up to me as we grew up in that tiny little house in upstate New York. . . that same little guy is actually now a dad. It’s a testament to the fact that time stands still for no one, and with each passing second we are all closer to being greeted by life changing experiences. At 1:46 this past Friday, my little brother experienced one that he will cherish for the rest of his life. Congratulations Jimmer and Whitney! You guys are parents!
As for game 2 of the CBA playoffs, Jimmer and his team overcame a 15 point deficit to pull out an absolutely crucial overtime victory! Jimmer told me after the game he was exhausted, something anyone who knew what he had been through the past 48 hours completely expected. After only about 5 hours sleep in two days, combined with the emotion of seeing his daughter being brought into the world, plus another 13 hour flight on top of that, I had no illusions of Jimmer being a ball of energy on that court Sunday night. However, knowing what I know about my little bro, I had no doubt he was gonna fight through the fatigue – and that’s exactly what he did. He went on to score 39 points and grab 10 rebounds to help lead the Sharks to a season saving win. He willed himself to a big-time performance, including hitting what should have been a game winning basket with only 2 seconds left in regulation. If not for a heroic buzzer beater by the opposing team, that off balance shot off the glass that Jimmer sunk just prior, would have put the game away. Jimmer however got one more chance to be the hero, and this time, he didn’t leave anything to chance. He caught fire in overtime, hitting his signature 3’s from all over the court and putting the nail in the coffin with an against all odds outstanding performance. How he was able to dig deep and muster up enough energy to close out that game the way he did, is a question for the ages. Some might say it was adrenaline, some might say it was a second wind. . . me personally, I think it was inspiration. . . inspiration from a little girl named Wesley James Fredette.
The Shark’s series is now tied 1 to 1. The excitement of the CBA Play-offs is just getting started. Stay tuned to find out how the rest of this thrilling season unfolds!
Also some breaking news! As I was finishing up this blog I got word that today Jimmer was officially named the MVP of the CBA for this season!!! What a week it has been for my bro. Congratulations once again J!! Another milestone that someday uncle T can share with little Wesley!