Have you read the story about King Arthur? No, not the one involving round tables and acts of bravery. I'm talking about the one involving a young boy with a dream and the courage to pursue it in spite of, well, a significant vertical challenge. If you haven't yet read about this King Arthur, you ought to, and then share his story with the kids in your life.
For those unaware, King Arthur is the nickname of Arthur Lewis, Jr., a key member of the renowned Harlem Wizards basketball team in spite of being five-feet-nine-inches tall. Though these days he's a sought-after hoops star, there was a time when, in spite of a love of hoops, Lewis was told he was too small to play the game.
Determination and the support of his parents led to success on the high school level and beyond, and recently Lewis recounted his experiences in his self-published and extremely motivational children's book, “Is the King Too Small to Play Ball?”
After an impressive Wizards event at Monomoy Regional High School last week, I had the chance to talk with Lewis about all that inspired the book, and what it was like to be told he was too short to play his favorite sport.
“At first I didn't really understand it, but I heard it so much,” he said.
But instead of letting the words of naysayers define him, Lewis took a different path.
“I used it to prove that it didn't matter how small you are,” he said. “I put so many hours into the game of basketball. I would play defense, dive on the floor, encourage people. I always tried to give maximum effort because as a small guy, if you don't you'll get sent home.”
He also strived for academic success, working to make the honor roll, in part honoring his parents' wishes. But hoops has always been, and remains, his love. Because of that, and as a means of reaching out to kids possibly in the same boat, Lewis wrote his story.
“I reflect that I'm 36 years old and still playing the game I've been playing since I was in third grade,” he said, adding that for him, the journey has been about “faith, hard work, and doing the right thing by putting positive energy out.”
The book tells how Lewis, after opting out of practicing at times, didn't make the cut when he tried out for the junior varsity squad as a freshman in Baltimore. Rededicating himself with the help of his best friend resulted in his making the team the following year, a move that eventually led to his becoming a key member of his varsity team, before college ball, professional hoops, and ultimately the Wizards, which he joined in 2009.
Lewis said his life philosophy involves “a genuine concern for the well-being of others” that stems from what is known as Agape love, or universal and unconditional love of everyone.
“We all have different gifts,” Lewis said. “There's nothing wrong with positive expression.”
As part of his mission with the Wizards and in life, Lewis works on extending Agape love to everyone, sharing with them his concept of Happyville.
“Happyville is a mindset,” he said, adding that anyone can live there. “It doesn't matter how much money I have or where I am, I always live in Happyville. Every day you wake up is a choice to be happy or sad. Kids see enough negativity. We've got to put more positive things out there in the world.”
It is a message more people – kids and adults – need to incorporate.
“Anything is going to be possible if you're willing to learn from your failures and put in the hard work,” Lewis said. “Even when it's dark and it doesn't look like it's going to happen, you have to go after your dreams. How hard are you willing to go?”
To order your copy of the King's book visit www.teamofweking.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $20 plus $5 shipping.