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Rated: 13+ · Novel · Sports · #1961329
Jack was living a happy life until he faced trouble and he sees a whole new world.
          "Jack come get ya dinna!"  Jack closed his math book and jogged down the stairs where he faced his mom, dad, and little sister, Jessie.  Life was getting rough in their household as Jack's dad, Tim, had just lost his job at the steel mill.  Things were already tight for Jack and his family and this certainly didn't help.  They prayed and silently started in on their modest dinner, bread and potatoes.  Jack never complained about his dinner or any other things his parents did to save the family money.  His sister on the other hand didn't quite understand the families situation.  She often complained and then got scolded by their parents.

         Jessie had never realized how poor her family actually was until she went to kindergarten.  Living in inner city Detroit, luxuries might not be what most kids see as luxuries but they are desired just as much.  Jessie got to school and sat down in her classroom.  She opened her letter book that they were given upon entering and saw so many letters and so many worksheets, she was amazed at all the work they were supposed to finish this year.  A girl came in and sat next to her and opened her book bag.  She pulled out a three pens that lit up and if you took off the top it could also be used as chap-stick.  Jessie had never seen such an amazing writing utensil!  She decided that those pens must have cost a million dollars, and that girl had three of them!  Then Jessie looked down and saw amazing shoes that lit up!  That girl had to be rich Jessie decided.  Jessie took out her number two pencil and went to work on her notebook. 

         She walked home in her plain white shoes and thought about that rich girl.  She walked into her house and sat down her book bag right in the middle of the table. 

          "Hey, Mom. Hows come we don't got a lot of money?"

          "It's  don't have and we have everything we need, a roof over ya head, food on the table and most importantly we have each other. And....

          Jack had heard this before.  His mothers New England accent, the talk about how they have everything they need and how family is the most important thing in the world.  He knew she was right, but he had always longed for something more. Something so great that he could die and still be content.  That would just be in his day dreams he decided and headed to the park to meet up with some friends to play basketball.

          Jack was not very good at basketball but he competed well with his friends and he was the kind of player that would not hurt nor help your team.  He enjoyed playing  but he never took it seriously, he just didn't like it enough to take it seriously. 

          Jack and his friends played for about an hour before they heard gunshots near by.  They put their hands above their heads and jumped to the concrete.  A car spun its tires and drove off.  Jack looked back to make sure everyone was OK.  He thought for sure everyone would be OK because they had all jumped to the ground as soon as the gun was fired.  He looked back and saw that one of his dear friends, James, was laying in a pool of his own blood and he lay there lifeless.  James did not jump to the ground, he had dropped.  Medics came and took James' motionless body away and Jack walked sadly home.  His eyes full of tears, he walked into the family house.  He was swept up with the aroma of bread and potatoes. 

          "Get ya shoes off and help ya motha with dinna.  Your fatha will be home soon and he will be hungry." 

          Jack took his shoes off and began stirring the boiling potatoes when he heard the the door fly open.

          His father walked in, "Where is your mother?'

          " I don't know."

          "Well why don't you find her?"

          " Yes, Sir"

          Jack's mom walked in and asked, "Honey, did you go drinking this evening?'

          "What the hell do ya think?" yelled his father.

          "Where did you get the money to do that?" asked his mother.

          "We don't need dinner tomorrow!"

          " What about our kids? What are they going to say when they go into school starving? What happens? Huh?"

          "You never talk to me like that! Come here!"

          "Jack! Take Jessie and go to your room for the night! Don't come out! Go to bed!" yelled his mother.

          Jack took Jessie's hand and they went to his room and opened up a puzzle. He could hear the desperate screams of his mother, and the pain could be felt through her voice.  Then the screams went silent.  The next thing he heard were the police coming in and taking his crazed father away.  An officer came in and picked up the crying Jessie and told Jack to follow him.  They got into the back of the police car and were told that they would stay with their neighbors for a while.

          After little sleep, Jack was woken to the sound of talking.  It was his neighbor and a voice he had heard before.  He ventured down the hallway to the little kitchen.  He has seen this guy before. Child Services.

          "Hello Jack, you probably remember me but I am Chris from Child Services. I am here because you will have to move in with a new family and a family has already stepped up to be your foster parents."

          "Oh, this is all kind of a rush.  I haven't had time really to understand this yet."

          "Well, we need to hurry, I told them you would be there by six o'clock tomorrow so we need to get you to the airport soon."

          "Alright, I will get Jessie ready."

          "Umm, no. The family only wanted one child aged between, 13 to 17 years old. So, only you will be going."

          "I'm not going then!"

          "Well you have to. I have already packed your bag and Jessie will be escorted to the airport in about an hour or so to head to San Francisco to her home, it will be OK. Don't worry. Now come along we have no time!"

          "Jessie! Jessie!"  Jack tried to yell past his tears but he couldn't stop crying. "Jessie!"

          Jessie came running out of her room, still in her pajamas, with her teddy bear.

          "Jackie! No!" Jessie screamed.

          Jack was now getting pulled to the taxi that was waiting on him and Jessie had just enough time to throw him her bear before she was pulled away by their neighbor. Jack got into the back of the car and the door was shut behind him.  He clutched the bear as Jessie disappeared behind the shutting front door.  He knew he would never see his little sister ever again. He fell asleep, then he woke to a lot of people whizzing by him in their concentrated commute either to or from their planes.  Jack then noticed that he was being carried by Chris.  He slipped back into the sleep and when he woke again, there was a flight attendant bending over him trying to wake him up.

          " You have arrived in Boston, where you were supposed to get off."

          He got into the airport and found someone with a sign saying "Jack Halladay" He walked over to the man, women and girl.

          "Hi, we are your new family, I am Steve, this is Mandy and our daughter here is Samantha and we are the Johnson's!" the man said.

          "Hi, I'm Jack." said Jack.

          "Well lets head on home!" said Mandy.

          They all turned and started walking and Jack followed.  Jack got into the back of the family's mini-van and put his bag at his feet.

          "Samantha introduced herself "Hi, I'm Samantha, but everybody calls me Sam!"

          "Hi, Sam, I'm Jack."

          "How old are you?" asked Sam.

          "16, what about you?" replied Jack.

          "I am 18." said Sam.

          Jack didn't remember much else about that car ride because his mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and he was just trying to piece together what had happened in the last 48 hours. 

          "This is your bed, you better get to sleep, we have a big day tomorrow.  We saw that you didn't have much so me and Sam will be taking you to the mall to strengthen your wardrobe." Mandy said.

          Jack didn't know what to expect of the next day, but he fell asleep too fast to really give himself a chance.

          Jack got up and pulled on his worn jeans and his favorite shirt, the Detroit Lions shirt that he got for Christmas last year. 

He walked down the wood steps and at this time he really understood how beautiful the home of the Johnson's home really was.  It had the smell of a forest and the leather seats glowed in the light of the fireplace in the living room.  He was so caught up in admiring the house that he didn't see Sam appear from the hallway.

          "How did you sleep?" she asked.

          "Pretty good."

          "Well mom is a nurse and she got called in to work today so it is just me and you." she said.

          They got into the car and started on their way to the shopping mall.

          "Do you play any sports, Jack?" asked Sam.

          "Uhh, I play a little basketball." said Jack.

          "Oh, well the tryouts are today. Would you like me to take you?"

          "Sure!" exclaimed Jack. Finally, something normal, basketball!

          Jack and Sam went into stores with some of the nicest clothes that Jack had ever seen.  Sam picked out most of the clothes for Jack because she decided that he had "cheap taste" whatever that meant.

          After they went shopping Jack tried on his new basketball shoes.  They were not anything too special but they were his shoes. He had never had a pair.  Then they at lunch and Jack got suited up for tryouts. 

          Jack went in and did what he usually did, nothing good and nothing bad but the coach kept staring at him. Then finally Jack said, "Hey, Coach! How come you are staring at me?"

          "Are you giving me 100% young man?" the coach asked.

          "Yeah of course I am coach." replied Jack

          "I don't believe you!" said the coach and he walked away.

          Jack could not believe what the coach had just said.  He always gave his all on the court, even if he wasn't very good.  Then this preppy coach comes in and thinks he isn't trying? He had to know what was up with this coach so he walked to the coaches office.

          "Hey, Coach, why did you accuse me of not trying today? You don't even know me!"

          "Listen, kid, I know your story, I know how you were separated from your family.  You may think that you won't make anything of your life because of what is happening now.  You try to play the pitty game on yourself and you don't even want to try to get better. Because of your circumstances you think it is OK to be mediocre.  You just have to work harder than anyone else. You are the ambassador to all the kids that are just like you. Growing up in the hardships of the big city. Now that you made it out, you have to be honored that you get the chance to be great when many of your friends will never get the chance.  You want everyone to feel bad for you well here is a newsflash.  When you get to adulthood and you have to deal with the daily grind, nobody cares where you came from. That is just screen writing material believe me.  You have to do what your family would be proud of.  Would they want you to curl up play the pitty game on yourself? Or would they want you to straiten your back and be a man and face the world?  Listen to me kid, life is going to throw you punches. You are just getting the heavy blows early.  It will put you on your face and taunt you if you let it. Are you going to get up and punch back? Or will you lay knocked out for the rest of your life?" He walked out and on his way out said, "Be here Monday, early."

          Jack sat in his office crying for 15 minutes before he got up and went home.

          Jack was there Monday.  He made sure of it.  He was shooting casually when the coach walked in. They started on drills and these drills were intense.  This was a routine everyday for a couple weeks and games were about to begin. One day after one common team practice, Coach called the team huddle and said, "Jack has been working so hard with me and he will be traveling with the Varsity team this week."

          Jack could not believe it! He had made the Varsity as a Sophomore but he was too determined to stop there.

          The team, led by Jack kept winning and they had a perfect record at the end of the season and the playoffs were about to begin.  They were set to play Central. The worst team in the first round.

          They killed Central in the first round and Jack had 27 points and 6 rebounds. 

          Their team kept rolling and the newspapers headlines would adhere to that as well.


          They were so good, they were headed to state for the first time in 48 years.  Jack was over come with emotion and he hugged Mandy and Steve.  He got on the team bus and they were headed to the arena.  They had beat Ridgemont in the first game which set them up to play the Roughriders of Westside.  Jack was nervous and he was shaking pre-game. He got up and headed to the floor to warm up.  When he was running down the tunnel to the court he heard his name.

          "Jack! Jack!'

          He knew he had heard that voice before but he couldn't pick it out.  It was Sam. He was so happy to see her there.  At the end of the game she was not the only person yelling his name. When the game ended he had 45 points and 12 rebounds and the whole crowd was chanting "Jack, Jack, Jack".

          Their team was now in contention for the National Championship. Their first round was against a team from California and they were set to fly to San Francisco that night. 

          Jack could not sleep he was so excited but when it came to be game time, his excitement turned to nervousness.  There were rumors that there would be scouts from Duke, Michigan State and Florida Universities at this first round match.  Jack ran out on to the court and again someone was yelling his name from the stands.  But, he knew this voice wasn't Sams.  He turned around and broke down in tears. It was Chris. He hadn't seen him in so many years so he told him to meet him in the locker room after the game.  Jack hit the game winning jump shot to win that night which topped off his 33 point night.  He walked to the locker room and after he showered he grabbed his bag and stepped out to talk to Chris.  When he stepped out he broke down again and dug into his bag and grabbed a bear.  He handed it to a little girl standing by Chris.  That little girl was Jessie.  They hugged for a long time and exchanged numbers and promised to never get out of touch again. 

          Jack then hugged his coach for if he had never pushed Jack to the next level, he would have never seen his sister again.
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