I have very few close friends who are lawyers. Aside from my partners and a handful of others, I prefer to hang out with people other than lawyers. I suppose I inherited that trait from my father, who had a diverse group of friends. His friends came from all walks of life and he enjoyed the diversity.
I love lawyers, but the last thing I want to do after I leave my office is sit around and talk about the law. I love what I do, but when I walk out my door after a long day, I seek the company of others.
One of those is a lady named Asia Townsend. I first met Asia about 10 years go on a Saturday afternoon in the cafeteria of Bingham Middle School. I was there to scout for players for one of our Bears Tomorrow basketball teams, and we had just finished watching a fourth-grade girls’ game.
Asia’s daughter, Adreon Bell, was playing for her Randall Elementary School IYAA team. We recruited her that day and it was one of the pivotal moments in the history of our organization. She played with reckless abandon, and she moved up and down the court with amazing speed. She was raw, but she had the tools to become a great player.
Adreon went on to play for William Chrisman and was one of the best players to come out of the school. She played well enough to earn a scholarship to University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she is today. Her basketball skills and academic credentials earned her a scholarship to a very good Division II school, where she is thriving.
She injured her shoulder playing basketball and is still recovering from surgery, so she is red-shirting this year but plans to use her extra year of college to earn a master’s degree. She is an excellent student and, like her mother, very intelligent.
She has a plan for her life, and I have no doubt she will be successful. One of the proudest moments in my life was when she signed her letter of intent to go to Nebraska. She sent me a text message thanking me for all that I had done for her; that she would not be where she was today had it not been for the opportunity we gave to her; and she was grateful that I came to watch her play in fourth grade.
She and others are the reasons we started Bears Tomorrow over 10 years ago. The basketball programs at William Chrisman are thriving, full of alumni of our program, and athletes who played for us are paying for their education with athletic scholarships. It does take a village to raise a child, and many have contributed to Adreon’s success, but I also want to tell you how much of a critical role her mother played in her life.
Asia had Adreon at a very young age. She once told me that she had to grow up with her children. I spent a lot of time with Asia driving to and from games all over the metropolitan area. I always enjoyed our conversations.
There was a pervasive theme throughout our conversations – the love of her children. She rarely missed a game as she was thrilled to watch Adreon and then Adreon’s little sister, Adreal, play basketball. Adreal is now playing basketball on scholarship at Peru State in Nebraska.
I always was amazed how Asia raised her children with very little income. Her children were always well-groomed and wore nice clothes. They were always well fed and healthy. Asia always wanted to go to college, but she sacrificed her own dreams so her children could pursue their dreams.
Asia attended church near her home at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. Several women in her church were great mentors of her. Seven years ago, Asia started and operated a clothes closet at the church and then two years later started and ran a food pantry. She also worked part-time as an administrative assistant at the church. The church provided a platform for her to serve her community and to help her raise her children in the church. The church is honoring her with a reception tomorrow.
A friend recently told me that he had seen Asia working at a local Quik Trip. Two days later, Asia dropped by my office and informed me that she had been hired in a supervisory role. For the first time in her life, she was earning a very good salary, using the skills she learned in running the closet and pantry. Her youngest child is in kindergarten and so for the first time in over 20 years she can now devote her attention to her own career. She has two boys still at home and I suspect she will be traveling to Nebraska to watch her daughters play basketball.
I consider Asia a good friend. It has been a privilege to watch her raise her children. One of my favorite memories with her came on our trip back from Gardner-Edgerton after one of Adreon’s games when she was in seventh grade. Adreon had a bad game and actually had a “meltdown” at one point in the game. As her coach, I was extremely angry and was planning on spending the 45-minute trip home instructing her on proper behavior. I didn’t have to say a word. Asia took over and for 45 minutes, Adreon received an education. As did I.
I am excited for the next phase of Asia’s life. I am thrilled that an employer saw her skills and great work ethic. The past 10 years have been remarkable, but I can’t wait to see what Asia Townsend does next.
Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence, www.wagblaw.com . Email him at email@example.com