The Father John Wall Never got to Know
During his childhood, John Wall heard the same thing time and time again. People said, “he was just like his father.” In no way was this a compliment.
A little over eight years before John Wall was born, his father was charged with second-degree murder. This was a result of him shooting a woman in the back of the head during an argument. Then three weeks after Wall’s first birthday his father robbed a store at gunpoint and was charged with armed robbery.
Until the age of nine, Wall grew up with a father he could only visit in prison. At the age of nine, Wall’s father was released a month early from prison due to him developing a terminal case of liver cancer. Wall’s father would die in a hotel bathroom while on vacation with his entire family.
Wall’s last memory of his father was watching the man he never really got to know stretchered out of the hotel by an ambulance. Ever since, Wall still keeps the Randy Moss jersey his father was stretchered out of the hotel in. This jersey is used as a reminder of the father he lost and the man he swore to himself he would never become. But the promise of not becoming like his father would come later in his life.
John Wall Struggles to Find his Identity
After his father’s unfortunate demise, Wall found himself full of anger and rage. This was due to his current life situation. At the earliest levels of basketball, Wall starred on the court, but was an absolute nightmare off of it.
Soon he found himself given the nickname Crazy J. He did a lot to earn this nickname. Most days it seemed Wall would get into trouble. He constantly got into fights at his local YMCA. He also got kicked out of many basketball camps.
Wall soon began to spiral into a darker place. At only thirteen Wall and his friends would break car windows. They would then proceed to steal the cars/take them for joy rides around town. It felt like he was practically daring for a police officer to pull him and his friends over.
It was starting to appear that he was hanging with a dangerous crowd. Wall had bullets fired at him twice and even fired back on one occasion. It was at this point where Wall almost completely forgot who he was and became the father that was never there for him as a child.
John Wall Perseveres
Frances Pulley (Wall’s mother) found a way to convince his head coach the following summer to give him a second chance. The head coach would invent calls against Wall to incite rage from within. At this point, it was clear to the coach that Wall had turned a new corner, as he was getting back on defense during these plays rather than picking fights.
Wall would give his mother credit for helping him leave his old habits behind. During Wall’s early years his mother’s words would echo in his head. “Don’t be like your father, you’re better than that John.” she’d say. During Wall’s sophomore year of high school, he’d get cut from his team for a senior, who the head coach felt was less likely to cause the team problems.
But instead of lashing out, Wall chose to transfer to Word of God Christian Academy. This was where Wall’s coach Levi Beckwith asked him ” John why aren’t you being recruited by Duke and North Carolina?” Wall responded by saying ” I don’t know.” This is where coach Levi stated to him, “You’re not getting recruited by Duke and North Carolina because you’re an a*s.”
John Wall Gets Recruited
After this conversation, Wall put his head down and worked to create a new image of himself. He hoped to show his coaches he could be a great teammate. As a result of all his hard work, he would get invited to the Reebok All-American Camp.
At the camp, Wall would turn heads with his incredible athleticism and advanced court vision. This led to Wall being recruited by every major college basketball program in the nation. Wall would go on to attend the University of Kentucky. John chose this destination due to his fascination with Coach John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense.
Wall’s fascination for Coach Calipari had developed during the 2007-08 season when Wall saw Point Guard Derrick Rose lead Memphis to the National Championship game. During Wall’s only season at the University of Kentucky, he averaged 16.6 points per game and 6.5 assists per game. As the NBA draft approached it was at this point Wall had discovered his true purpose in life.
A Moment to Reflect
Now clearly Wall’s greatest strength isn’t his jump shot, but what type of shooting would be occurring in Wall’s life if his mother didn’t convince his coach to give him a second chance on the team? Would he be running an offense or be behind bars? Would he be the man that so many kids in the district dream of being when they grow up, or would he have been the man that he despised so much during his youth?
Sometimes great parenting is all you need to give your child a shot in life.