Back to LA…shoeless and present

For 17 years my Dad was a social worker. But on $17 grand a year and a family of 5, my hero had to make a move.

And since the 76ers were not down with signing a 7-year-old to play alongside Hersey Hawkins on Prism, no matter how legit I felt my jumper was, our father had to find a new profession.

For the next 17 years the former all-state wrestler from Pennsylvania who had read five newspapers per day since he was 13 and had a fascination with Hindi and Buddhism (hence the name Yogi, btw) taught himself to become a stockbroker.

“A fool and his money are soon parted” and “a penny saved is a penny earned” were a few staples at the breakfast table, as the sports section was being passed around between cereal and glances at SportsCenter.

But it was the day that he retired from being a broker that I remember most.

I was in my final season at Pitt and knew Dad had decided it was time to move on to life’s next challenge. He wasn’t sure what it was but, like Avicli, he had a feeling that it was time to move on.

Walking across the quad I pulled out that sweet red Nokia mobile phone that we all had in 2003.

“Is Will Roth there?”
“Hey Yogi, you just missed him as he literally just walked out the door…but when you talk to him will you tell him that he left his shoes under his desk?”
Asked the kind voice who had been taking my calls since I’d been on the 76ers draft board.

Dad failed to own a sweet red Nokia so we didn’t talk until he got home. When we chatted I asked him about his shoes and he told me that when wrestlers retired they always left their shoes in the ring, signifying that they were moving on and had left their heart and soul on that mat.

Thus, he left his dress shoes under his desk and walked out of the corporate office of Citi Group at peace with the 17-year journey he had been on.

As years past and I would take jobs, leave jobs, explore new nations and attempt to be present in each life experience he would send me notes, cards, e-mails and recently even created a twitter account.

The messages would vary in text, but the concept was always consistent—To thine own self be true.

As I leave this curious tour throughout Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia both of my feet are underwater in the Indian Ocean.

For over 3 weeks they have explored the city of Bangkok and the countryside of Chiang Mai, the history and heartache of Vietnam, the Fields full of life in Cambodia only to end up at the islands of paradise in Southeast Asia.

And for over 3 weeks the only rule I had was that every decision had to be made by feel, which forced me to live in the present on this recent journey.

So as we close 2011 and crank up 2012, remember that the way you think about something will, to a very large degree, determine the nature of your experience and while success has many ingredients—attitude is, by far, the most important.

Therefore, as the sun rises in Ko Phi Phi and I board a boat, bus, plane and subsequent taxi en route to LA I, like my most significant mentor, leave these kicks on the sand to be swept on-shore or taken to sea…at peace with this journey…and curious for the next one.

Hope you are too.


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