Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fame Factor

You have to know Aaron Durley to really appreciate him. One of the nicest kids I have ever met, Aaron has never has been caught up in the celebrity that followed him around. Now a rising junior, Aaron plays basketball at Texas Christian University. This entry is from November 16, 2006.

We heard he was coming weeks before he arrived. Aaron had become a celebrity at the Little League World Series for being the largest player in the storied history of the event. At 6'8", 256 pounds, and wearing a size 19 shoe, Aaron dwarfed all the players in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Along with other boys with American parents who work in the oil industry in the Middle East, Aaron represented Saudi Arabia as a first baseman. His publicity stemming from the World Series even landed him as a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel late night show. His family had made contact with Westbury Christian last spring about Aaron moving in with his grandmother, a Houstonian, and attending WCS. When he enrolled, we had been in school for three weeks. I didn't know what to expect. Before I had heard about any connection with our school, I had used Aaron as an example of having to prove who you are by birth certificate; some would doubt that a young man of his stature could only be thirteen. What we have found in Aaron is a teenager, barely, who is unfailingly polite and unimpressed with the acclaim he has generated. He is an excellent Bible student and he acts as if he is just another kid with his fellow students reciprocating. If you did not know he was famous, you would not guess it by mere observation of the interaction with his peers. Yesterday, the local NBC affiliate came out and shot a feature on him which ran on last night's sports segment. I did not know it until I saw our school website tonight. Aaron made no big deal of it and neither did the other kids. That is the way it should be.

Aaron had another big day today: he got married. As I continue to practice for Saturday's wedding of Emily and Josh, I've rehearsed in my Bible classes. Today, it was the eighth graders turn. Anyone who wanted to be in the wedding party put their names in a hat and we drew for bride-groom-maid of honor-father of the bride-best man. Actually, I let the bride pull the groom's name and Destiny, the 3rd period bride, randomly chose Aaron. They made a contrasting couple. Destiny is five foot tall and you know about Aaron. (They made a cute couple but don't repeat that! You know how the middle school rumor mill works!) The ceremony lasts twenty-two minutes and something really impressed me. I knew Destiny could focus: girls focus better and are more into weddings. But Aaron concentrated for the entirety of the rites. He kept good eye contact and he absorbed the meaning of the stories and the vows. He enjoyed it, not because he was the center of attention, but because the concepts and values I spoke of typify his family as well. The references to marriage from the Biblical perspective rang true and he comprehended what I was trying to convey to Josh and Emily on their special day. When he walked out of Room 258 this morning, he complimented me on the wedding and I thanked him. Some kids are easy to like; Aaron falls into that category. Some are easy to respect; that class has a much smaller roll book. In a world where fame is coveted more than accomplishment, it would be easy to have your head turned by the glitter swirling around your head, even if it is a great distance from the floor. In the NBC interview, after responding to the reporter with "Yes, sir," Aaron describes himself as a kid, a big kid, which is exactly where he should be in his life. That is no accident. His family has him well-grounded and prepared for the road ahead. It is a path that leads to excellence. There is only one question remaining in this saga: will his parents like Destiny?

Applicable quote of the day:
"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked me for my autograph."
Shirley Temple

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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