THE FIRST TIME someone called me the N-word on a basketball court was in seventh grade. I remember dribbling the ball on the wing in front of the visitors bench. This girl, whose name I never knew, said I was a “stupid n—–.” I looked over my shoulder, still dribbling, at her coach, who either didn’t hear it or didn’t care. The girl continued to taunt me. What are you going to do about it?
What I did, the next quarter, was block her shot so hard that she fell and broke her wrist. I stepped over her like Allen Iverson over Tyronn Lue. My teammates glared at me as officials called the ambulance.
I have no regrets.
“You never let anyone call you that,” my father said to me after the game. He gave me a fist bump.