First Person: Happy Birthday
The best thing that’s happened in the last ten years of the ACC Tournament occurred in Washington, D.C. in 2005.
That’s when I was walking around the Verizon Center concourse before the quarterfinals and received a call from my wife. Her first words were, “It’s not urgent,” which is a good way to start the conversation when you’re nine months pregnant. Indeed, it wasn’t urgent, in that she wasn’t about to give birth in the next hour.
But the doctor had told her our son would be born in the next three or four days. Forever thinking of other people, the Tar Heels decided to go ahead and lose in the semifinals to enable me to get home a little faster.
Two fantastic things happened in the next month: Asher Lucas was born and the Tar Heels won the national championship. I’m pretty sure the first thing caused the second.
Asher is our second child. As I’ve written before about our first, McKay, she has very little interest in sports and a vast interest in things I know nothing about, like ballet. That means that she’s usually teaching me instead of vice versa, and she’s made me a more complete—and probably more interesting—person.
On the other hand, my wife says Asher is my clone. A month ago, he caught a virus and was sick for two days. It was easy to tell when he started feeling better, because the rhythmic bouncing of a basketball started again in his room. Until it resumed, I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.
Without question, he’s lived a charmed Tar Heel existence. He’s been a Carolina ballboy and a Carolina batboy. He’s gone on road trips. He’s been to Omaha. He’s danced to Jump Around on the Smith Center court. He's been friends with Kendall Marshall, and the video still makes me smile. Once he finishes his baseball practice tonight, he'll be spending his birthday evening in the dugout with the nation's top-ranked team, the Diamond Heels.
Basically, he's living the life I still want to be able to lead when I grow up. Watch for Marcus Paige's three-point play below. See the kid bouncing around after the play at the 4:40 mark? Yeah, that's him.
He makes me a more appreciative Tar Heel fan, because nothing is boring to him yet. In his world, there’s always a chance for a buzzer-beater or a sweet dunk, which will then be repeatedly reenacted on our driveway hoop.
His sister recently had a school assignment to use an adjective to describe each member of our family. Her word for Asher was “zealous,” which was perfect. He makes me have more fun because of how much fun he has—doing everything. When shooting hoops on his Nerf goal, he’s been known to tweak the words to the Alicia Keys song and suddenly belt out, “This Asher’s on fiiiiiiire!”
Saturday night after the 69-53 loss to Duke, I arrived home from the Smith Center around 12:15 a.m. I walked into Asher’s room, where I found him sitting on his bed, reading a book. “It’s after midnight,” I said. “What are you doing up?”
The seven-year-old, who had been the subject of the photo that perhaps best summed up the night, said, "I can't sleep."
I know the feeling.
One of the toughest parts of parenting is trying to do your best while having no idea if you’re doing it the right way. There’s no answer key, so you spend your time in a constant state of fear that you’ve somehow messed up a life for which you’re responsible.
During Duke’s road win at Boston College, Asher and I watched the game in separate rooms. We’d started out together, but then the Blue Devils went on a run and we decided we should split up to change the mojo. Go where you go and do what you do, you know.
Duke ultimately won, thanks partially to a questionable no-call at the end of the game. But just as the official swallowed his whistle, I heard a shout from upstairs. “How is that not a foul?” came the yell of an angry seven-year-old. I’d call that a parenting success.
Happy birthday to one of the best—or certainly one of the most zealous—Tar Heel fans I know.