Let’s Put The Guns Down

Brandon during the Monroe Eagles season opener against Wings Academy, on November 26th, 2019.

DISCLAIMER: This piece was written with POSITIVE INTENT. It was not written to disrespect Brandon H, nor gain “clout” from his image & likeness, or from anyone mentioned in this piece. I didn’t know Brandon personally, however, I did admire his basketball talent from afar. A postseason performance against South Bronx Prep during his junior year standout to me. I felt obligated to write this piece to both honor his life, & highlight the senseless gun violence captivating New York City.

If you have any suggestions or issues with what this piece contains, you may leave a comment, or contact me at andyaguity@gmail.com.

What a disappointing few months it’s been.

So far, the start of this decade has been defined by a bevy of negative developments. We’ve had the tragic death of notable celebrities, COVID-19, police brutality, racial injustice, etc.

And the latest hurdle we’ve had to endure: gun violence.

A photo taken while at a candlelight vigil for Brandon on June 29th

During the past year, I’ve written on the deaths of David Stern, Pop Smoke, & Kobe Bryant. Those pieces have been well received by my audiences.

However, I didn’t expect to write another piece honoring someone’s life, this year.

But yet again, here we are.

As mentioned above in the disclaimer, this piece is a result of the spike in gun violence throughout New York City, where I, and many of my friends, reside. 

It’s also inspired by the death of Bronx basketball star, Brandon H

To clarify, I’ve never had a relationship with Brandon. We spoke once a few years ago, and that was all.

However, on social media, I’ve witnessed his impact, as well as the role model he was to others, being a successful student-athlete. 

On my Facebook timeline, hundreds of people, some with no relationship to Brandon, expressed their condolences to the young man’s family.

He was a humble young man, taken from us too soon.

Tees made in honor of Brandon. You can purchase one at neighborhoodherony.com. As of July 1st, these tees are sold out.

Sickened by the violence in these New York streets, and knowing the mark Brandon left behind, I felt obligated to honor him with this piece.

I also felt the need to chip in and do what I could to support the loved ones he left behind.

So, on June 29th, I attended a candlelight vigil for Brandon, at the Andrew Jackson housing development, near his home.

I wasn’t there for long, but the vigil presented me with a bittersweet experience.

You could just feel the emotional tension. 

There were several distraught faces amongst the crowd, and a spirit of sadness on the basketball court, where the vigil took place.

Despite that, there were candles, balloons, and people from all walks of life, in attendance to pay their respects to Brandon. Basketball players, hip-hop artists, neighbors, close friends, supporters, you name it.

It was truly a remarkable sight. 

After I departed the vigil, heavy rainfall proceeded to fall upon the South Bronx. It was a sign from God, that Brandon had made it into heaven.

Click here if you would like to donate to this gofundme page organized by Brandon’s mother, In the love and memory of Brandon.

In the wee hours of the morning, I logged onto my social media once again, where I found many of Brandon’s friends, still on the same basketball court, continuing to celebrate his life.

Often times, death is what brings a community closer. And after losing one of their own, that appeared to be the case at Brandon’s candlelight vigil.

I can’t complete this piece without mentioning the ongoing issue overwhelming our New York City streets: gun violence.

It’s an issue that at times, is hard to comprehend.

I question, what goes through the mind of some in this generation? Do these criminals receive gratification from taking an innocent person’s life? 

It makes absolutely no sense.

And unfortunately, it’s the biggest cowards, with the lowest self-esteem, who carry themselves like macho, tough guys, handing these weapons. 

It’s disgusting.

Because their foolishness has proved to be detrimental to this city.

Brandon’s close friends, while at a ceremony in front of James Monroe High School, Brandon’s high school. Photo courtesy of Chris.

Not to mention, these innocent bystanders, losing their lives to gun violence, could’ve been anyone of us. That’s the part I fear the most. 

A bullet has no name on it.

So, let’s put the guns down.

These handheld weapons are not only destroying families, but they’re making life much more dangerous for others. 

Just look at the statistics.

According to the New York Post, shootings in New York City have increased by a whopping two hundred percent over the last year.

And it feels as if every other day, another young life is lost. 

Enough is enough. Something must be done about this.

Now, I’m not an expert on gun violence or crime prevention, but I’ve discovered some actions that can be done to avoid events like this, from taking place in the future.

Recently I spoke to Jalen, a high school friend of mine, who mentioned how the politicians of New York are somewhat to blame for the increased gun violence.

Jalen, a high school friend of mine’s, Facebook post which inspired the ideas about preventing gun violence, shared in this piece.

Despite COVID-19 keeping us at home & in quarantine for almost ninety days, the city could’ve made a better effort in reaching out to its youth.

They should be cultivating ways to get them off the streets, and doing something productive.

Closing off the cities parks, and canceling this year’s summer youth employment program were two situations brought up in our brief discussion. 

According to Jalen, closing our parks removes a setting where youth of all ages are otherwise guaranteed safety, and can enjoy themselves with sports.

As a result, teens resort to spending their free time loitering on city blocks, a hotbed for violence to unfold.

And in relation to canceling the summer youth employment program, it hinders our youth from the opportunity to earn money, as well as learn valuable life lessons from educated adults.

And again, as a result, our teens are left with no choice but to engage in time-wasting activities.

Now, there are a few programs offering jobs to the inner city teens, most noticeably the Neighborhood Opportunity Network

Tyron a.k.a Benji, a young man who lost his life during the weekend of June 28th. I worked alongside him with summer youth in 2017.

However, only youth who reside in certain neighborhoods are eligible for this program

Why aren’t more organizations attempting to provide jobs, services, and resources to ensure our cities youth utilize their time effectively? 

Especially given the difficulties finding work following the Coronavirus pandemic? It’s a question that needs some answers.

That’s not the only thing that can change.

Urban communities must do a better job protecting their residents. 

No mother should question if their child will make it home each day. And no child should be in fear while walking through the streets of their neighborhood.

And in my opinion, this predicament begins with the authorities. 

They must work harder to establish a positive presence within urban communities, and play their role as protectors, rather than act as bullies, using their power to their advantage, and our disadvantage.

Close friends of Tyana J at a ceremony in her honor, in the Bronx. Tyana lost her life to gun violence on June 12th. Photo courtesy of Ahmad B.

This gesture will go a long way towards repairing the rocky relationship between the police, and our inner-city youth.

Lastly, we must establish stronger relationships amongst ourselves.

While on social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, at times I notice my peers quick to mock others, pick petty fights & arguments, or offer support for matters that aren’t beneficial.

Rather than hate, why can’t we love one another? 

If you see someone you know, say something ignorant, or that you disagree with, teach them the correct way. Don’t insult their intelligence.

There’s so much hatred on this Earth. 

While it won’t change everything, nor will it bring our loved ones back, spreading kindness to our loved ones can go a long way towards bringing peace in not only our lives, but hopefully our neighborhoods.

Graduation photo of Tracey W, a young man who was gunned down in Brooklyn on June 29th. He was 21 years old.

To conclude, God will never notify us when we’ll leave this earth. And we won’t know how we’ll leave either. 

So, while we’re here, let’s spend every day like it’s our last.

That’s a task easier said than done. 

However, with the lives being lost this year, to gun violence & COVID-19, it’s imperative that we cherish our time on this planet.

In addition, give others their flowers while there still living

If there’s someone you want to support, or that you admire, let them know. That’s what I hope to accomplish with this piece. 

Brandon left behind some tough friends who are beautifully honoring his name. They definitely deserve recognition for their efforts.

And lastly, always make sure to spread love. 

Don’t ridicule the ignorant, educate them. Tell friends, family members, and significant others you love & appreciate them. And make amends with those your at odds with. 

Because you’ll never know when they’ll be taken away from you.

My prayers and condolences go out to the family & friends of Brandon H, Tyana J, Tracey W, Tyron a.k.a Benji, and anyone who’s been affected, or that’s lost a loved one to gun violence.

Overhead view of candlelights for Brandon, at the Andrew Jackson houses, on June 30th. Photo courtesy of Chris.

Click here if you would like to donate to this gofundme page organized by Brandon’s mother, In the love and memory of Brandon.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Jalen. And shoutout to Ahmad, Bryce, Chris, Hammad, and those who considered Tyana & Brandon a close friend. You all are in my prayers, remain strong as you mourn at this time.

Love Us Like You Love Our Culture

Mural for the late George Floyd, in Minneapolis, MN

Hello everyone! This piece discusses my reaction to the deadly arrest of George Floyd, and what I’ve learned. I’ll also touch on the protesting and rioting flooding this country. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends.

DISCLAIMER: There are numerous ideas, facts, & links I could’ve incorporated in this piece. However, I only wrote what I am knowledgeable about. If you have any suggestions or issues with what this piece contains, you may leave a comment, or contact me at andyaguity@gmail.com. Or you can make your own damn blog.

I never planned on writing this piece. And here’s why.

A high school friend, walking at a protest in New York City in a homemade t-shirt that reads, “Love Us Like You Love Our Culture”. He is the inspiration behind the title of this piece. 

I too was impacted by the death of George Floyd. It took me six days to watch the video of his arrest. Scenes like that remain on my mind forever.

And think about the arrest itself. Did the Minnesota Police Department need four officers to subdue one man? For a harmless crime involving counterfeit money? 

And to add insult to injury, Floyd never posed a threat to those officers. In the video, he complied with their orders, and never resisted arrest. 

Yet, he still lost his life.

As the video of Floyd went viral, the black community (as expected) shared their displeasure on social media.

However, in the midst of their displeasure, I noticed a familiar scene unfold. 

Courageous citizens while at a protest in New York City on June 1st.

Several expressed their opinion on the arrest. But others expressed their dissatisfaction with numerous groups: the oft-racist authorities, the black community, the white community, etc.

And they proceeded to share what they believe these groups should do, in response to Floyd’s arrest.

Now, let me clarify. I’m in no way, shape, or form justifying the cruel acts of Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s murderer. Nor am I saying the black community shouldn’t be angry.

What I’m saying, is. If you desire change, why don’t you be the change? From the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE.” 

Refrain from stating the obvious and telling others what they already know.

That’s how I felt. Initially.

The black community is angry with the endless injustice suffered by their race. I understand that. But don’t repeatedly state a problem you have no solution for.

Citizens while at a protest in New York City on May 31st.

And therefore, I didn’t want to feel as if I was doing a similar act, by writing a piece.

But as I began to read more about police brutality and Floyd’s arrest, I then learned what the black community was doing. 

It was activism.

Growing up, I would hear the word “activism” in situations dealing with social issues and race. But I never knew what it meant.

Thankfully, over the past few days, I’ve witnessed its significance in our society.

In my own words, I define activism as completing different deeds, with the intention to educate others on your social beliefs and what’s morally and politically correct. 

And I learned that activism can be represented in a variety of ways: conversations about racial issues, signing a petition, and most notably, protesting.

Citizens while at a protest in Amsterdam, Netherlands on May 31st.

Therefore, I recognized that the black community was participating with their own form of activism, specifically, media activism: utilizing social media platforms to teach others. 

In this case, the community educated our society on the impact of George Floyd’s death, and other Africans Americans who died at the hands of the police.

That is when I understood their doings. 

And along with them, I too asked, why aren’t more people speaking up on social issues?

Some are comfortable spending their entire lives uttering bullshit, but won’t use a few moments to voice their opinions on what’s prevalent in their society, and their position on this matter with George Floyd.

And the white people sitting in silence, we expect you to speak as well, primarily those who claim to not be racist.

Why do you think this piece is titled “Love Us Like You Love Our Culture” ?. 

If you love black culture so much, the food, music, clothing, language, why can’t you love who we are? Make it make sense.

A wise person once said, “everyone wants to be black until it’s time to be black.” 

Image courtesy of chris.from96 Instagram account.

If you want to be black that bad, defend us in these times. Tell people that white privilege is a real thing. 

We must continue to bring awareness to the police brutality against blacks taking place in our country each day. If you remain silent, we already know where you stand.

With that being said, this piece is my form of activism. And here’s why I wrote it.

I remember when Trayvon Martin passed away in 2012. I was eleven years old then, too naive to understand the severity of his death.

As I grew older, however, I realized it’s significance. Trayvon was a young black child, gunned down by a white man because he appeared to be a threat to his livelihood.

Looking back now, Trayvon could’ve been anyone of us. 

Video of former NBA player, Stephen Jackson, speaking on the death of his friend, George Floyd.

And I must admit, I was also ignorant following the death of Eric Garner. His deadly arrest had a striking resemblance to that of George Floyd. 

The fact that multiple white police officers subdued these men for crimes so minuscule, is beyond me.

The year of Trayvon Martin’s death is when I learned about Emmit Till. He was another young black child, brutally beaten to death by a group of white men. 

He didn’t even commit a crime! And have you seen what they did to his face? I warn you, it’s graphic.

I freeze in disgust whenever I see that photo of Emmitt Till in his casket. And again, any one of us could’ve been Emmitt, dying at the hands of the white man.

Courageous citizens while at a protest in New York City on May 31st.

I discovered that I’ve always been somewhat of an activist, I just never realized it. 

I was hysterical, along with the black community, when these deaths took place. I too have some resentment for the police because of police brutality. 

I simply never knew how to speak up, or how to become an activist. I never asked questions.

But NOW I know, and HERE I am. 

I’ve learned that as a black man, I must say how I feel. Thank you to the black community for teaching me, and others, about activism.

I’ve been so confused for years, yet I haven’t said a word about it. 

But now, the white community and police must hear what I, and we, have to say. And it starts with this piece.

Photo containing African American people who passed due to police brutality. Image courtesy of princetonperez Instagram account.

Like, none of these terrible acts from the police makes sense. Don’t they teach de-escalation in police training? 

I’ve witnessed several videos of police brutality in the last week, and can’t help to wonder if all on these officers’ minds, is to kill. 

All of these videos show officers ruthlessly beating civilians who aren’t posing as threats to them.

They’re bullies who feel as if they can do as they please because of the badge on their chest, the batons in their hand, and the gun in their holster. It’s sickening.

These upcoming weeks and months are pivotal in black America. We must ensure that our voices are being heard, so these police officers, white people, and oppressors are well aware, that we’re tired of their shit.

If we don’t speak up now and become activists, we may never get an opportunity like this again. 

Video of Stephen Jackson, while at a news conference, alongside the family of George Floyd.

What comes with silence is a recurring cycle. And before we know it, we’ll have another George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor dead at the hands of the police. 

And black America is going to be angry again.

Before I conclude, I must comment on some events that have caught my attention this past week. Most notably the protesting, rioting, and looting taking place across the country.

I believe that if you’re healthy, willing, and able, you should be protesting. I personally haven’t participated because of the potential dangers that stem from it. 

I do commend those who protest. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish.

With that being said, there are many things you can do as an activist if you’re unable to protest.

Stephen Jackson while at a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a 15-year NBA veteran and longtime friend of George Floyd.

You can donate to bail funds. Donate to GoFundMe pages. Assist in clean-up efforts. Contact police departments, and members of your cities government. 

You can read, educate yourselves, and others, on what’s taking place in this society. And always ask questions if you’re confused.

As far rioting and looting is concerned, I support it. If my mother wasn’t so strict with curfew, I would be right there alongside you rioters.

I just have some reservations. 

You’ve probably heard this already, but don’t loot any black-owned businesses. It defeats the purpose of looting and rioting in this situation. You’re destroying businesses owned by those you’re trying to gain justice for.

Citizens while at a protest in New York City on June 1st.

That’s just ignorant.

And another thing. Before you engage in rioting, ask yourself: are you rioting for a good cause? To have justice served for George Floyd? 

Or are you rioting because it looks fun? And hundreds of other people are doing it? And you can come away with some free merchandise? 

Do the right thing.

And for those who don’t understand why people are rioting and looting, it’s because we’re tired of being discriminated, being harassed, & being disrespected because we’re a bit darker than everyone else. 

The great Martin Luther King Jr once said “rioting is the language of the unheard.” 

And we’ve gone unheard for too long. Police, white community, oppressors, you’re going to hear what’s on our minds, whether you like it or not.

Stephen Jackson and Gianna, George Floyd’s daughter.

And it’s not just black America. Any race that’s isn’t white, this is for you as well. 

We live in a country that preaches equality, yet treats its minorities as a second & third-class citizens. And it must end.

I now recognize the controversy behind the #AllLivesMatter hashtag. 

How the hell do all lives matter, when white people and police officers don’t care about black lives?

You think Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, cared about George Floyd, a black man, when he had his foot on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, killing him in the process? 

I didn’t think so.

Therefore, the black community, we must not remain silent. Make sure you speak out. Do your part. Be informed. 

If we do what we have to do, justice WILL be served, once, and for all.

Animated image of George Floyd. Image courtesy of _stak_5 Instagram account.

My prayers and condolences go out to the friends and families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and any other black citizen who has passed due to police brutality. You are gone, but not forgotten.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!




Click here, to see how you can make a difference in this time of need.

*Special shoutout to Stephen Jackson, 15-year NBA veteran, and longtime friend of George Floyd. He has been at the forefront of this movement, becoming a public voice & fighting for justice every single day. He is an inspiration for me, and for those that are impacted by this tragedy. Stephen, thank you.

Why MJ IS NOT The Goat

A scene of Michael Jordan, watching a video on his tablet during the ten-part docu-series “The Last Dance”

Hello everyone! This piece discusses my reaction to the docu-series “The Last Dance”, and why I think… Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest basketball player ever. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends.

Before I begin, I must clarify. In my opinion, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever.

Not LeBron. Not Magic. Not Kobe. But Michael Jordan.

Remember, it’s my opinion, which doesn’t matter in this debate. However, I’ll explain the reasoning behind it.

Michael Jordan shooting over three Detroit defenders during the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals. He would lose to Detroit in three straight postseasons before defeating them in 1991.

These past few weeks I’ve watched “The Last Dance”, a ten-part docu-series which goes behind the scenes on the 1997–98 Chicago Bulls, and everything before that season. The series perfectly highlights Jordan’s star power.

It’s no mistake Mike had talent. As a six-foot-six scoring guard, he dominated a league littered with tough, physical big men on each roster. He had no weaknesses. He could shoot, dribble, pass, and defend at an elite level.

He had accolades. He was the Rookie of the Year. The Defensive Player of the Year. A five-time MVP. A six-time NBA champion. A six-time Finals MVP. Fans and players in the league immediately realized his special abilities.

He was competitive. Mike made sure to tell opponents he would destroy them, each time he went to battle. He did anything to gain an advantage, whether it was mental or physical. He was a trash-talker. And he did whatever it took to win.

Michael Jordan attempting a layup during the 1991 NBA Finals. His Chicago Bulls would defeat the L.A. Lakers in six games.

Watching this docu-series proved to be a joy. Oftentimes I wish to be born thirty years earlier, so I can see Michael Jordan’s amazing feats in real-time.

I would kill to be in attendance when Mike scored sixty-three points on the Boston Celtics. Or for his battles against Detroit in the postseason. Or when he picked apart my New York Knicks. Or his Game six performance against Utah in 1998.

My favorite part of the series is when Jordan and his teammates discussed how he treated them. Many feared him. At times he was overbearing, and would ridicule them. He was an authoritarian.

I thought to myself, “I would hate to play alongside someone like him, he sucks the joy out the game.”

Michael Jordan attempting a fade-away over Clyde Drexler in the 1992 NBA Finals. His Chicago Bulls would defeat the Portland Trailblazers in six games.

But when Mike explained himself, in tears, it all made sense. He’d literally busted his behind getting the Bulls back into relevancy. It took him discipline, hard work, and dedication.

None of his teammates were there from the start like Mike. Therefore, he expected his teammate to act on par with him, regardless of how he treated them. And sometimes he crossed the line. The man punched Steve Kerr in practice for no reason.

But his method resulted in six freakin’ championships. Jordan was doing something right.

And it was cool to see the human side of Michael.

I entered this world in 2001, so I missed out on Jordan’s glory years with the Chicago Bulls. It just adds to the fascination I have for him. For me, Mike represents a sort of God-like figure.

Michael Jordan attempting a free-throw during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He would win his first gold medal with the “Dream Team”, that summer.

And “The Last Dance” further proved that. Such an amazing watch.

Despite what I said before, here’s why Mike isn’t the greatest ever.

Typically when you ask someone who the greatest basketball player ever is, you receive three concrete answers.

Those three are Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant. Other candidates may or may not include Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Wilt Chamberlain, amongst others.

So what’s the difference between the players I just mentioned?

Michael Jordan (right) alongside Charles Barkley (left) during the 1993 NBA Finals. Mike’s Bulls would defeat the Phoenix Suns in six games.

Aside from their positions, they played in different eras, and were in their prime during different times. Wilt ruled the sixties, Kareem the seventies. Magic the eighties & Jordan the nineties. Kobe the aughts & LeBron the tens.

The NBA has evolved since it’s creation seventy years ago. Each new era introduced a new style of basketball.

Recently, I read an article on ESPN that made a good point, and inspired this piece. Click here if you would like to read.

The point stated “Jordan was the best scorer of his era because he was the best post-up and midrange shooter of his time. He was the best at what everyone was trying to do.”

Michael Jordan attempting a fade-away over Gary Payton during the 1996 NBA Finals. The Bulls would defeat the Seattle SuperSonics in six games.

That statement made me think. It’s impossible to pinpoint one person as the greatest ever. Each all-time great played ball differently. And, each great played the way that was most popular at the time.

Ultimately, there are too many factors involved for this to be a legitimate argument.

Here’s what I mean.

During the eighties, the NBA game was played at a fast pace. Teams flew up and down the floor and for as many shot attempts as possible.

Magic Johnson, the eras top player, played at a fast pace. He led the “Showtime Lakers”, who often ran teams out the gym, to five titles during the decade.

The nineties featured a slow it down, methodical approach to the game. Big men, post-ups, and mid-range jumpers were the staples of every team’s offense.

Michael Jordan, the eras top player, specialized in both post-ups, and midrange shooting, despite playing at shooting guard. This resulting in his six titles in the decade.

Michael Jordan (left) and Scottie Pippen (right) during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, a.k.a “The Flu Game”. The Bulls would defeat the Utah Jazz in six games.

The aughts featured some resemblance to the nineties. Games had more isolation plays, and/or included several teams led by a single superstar player.

Kobe Bryant, the eras top player, is the most talented isolation player ever. His game resembled that of Michael Jordan, and most years, Kobe was his team’s only offensive weapon. He earned five rings this decade.

The ten’s were defined by two factors: three-point shooting, and versatility.

LeBron James, the eras top player, is as versatile as anyone. He can play all five positions on the court without issue. And Steph Curry, arguably the eras second best player, changed the NBA with his deadly three-point shooting.

So why do I share with you this information?

Kobe Bryant (right) defending Michael Jordan (left) during the 1997–98 regular season. Kobe idolized Michael and referred to him as a “big brother”.

As stated before, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever, to me. However, there shouldn’t be a debate. We must stop comparing the greats. Each one brought something new to the table as the game continued to evolve.

LeBron can’t be better than Mike because he averaged more assists and rebounds. And Mike can’t be better than LeBron because he can post-up, and shoot well from thirteen feet.

They were just the best at whatever style was prominent in their respective eras.

The “Greatest of all-time” debate should be scrapped altogether. There are just too many components to consider, which makes for a poor argument. There really isn’t a “GOAT.” Each player is exceptional in their own unique way.

Therefore, that’s why Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest basketball player of all-time.

Michael Jordan shooting the title-winning jumper against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. That was his last field goal in a Bulls uniform.

To conclude, “The Last Dance” was a much-needed distraction for me during quarantine. It brought our world together in a time where we’ve all been distancing.

The series opened my eyes in a myriad of ways, and proved to be a memorable experience. I love to hear the story, behind the story. Hopefully, teams, in every sport, will gift us with something similar in the future.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Kameron, Anthony M, Kimberly and Bintou. Also shoutout to Jake and Josh, congrats on graduating guys!

(Originally posted May 19, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

Dear Mommy,

A photo of my beautiful mother, Sayda, and I.

Hello everyone! This piece is dedicated to all the wonderful mothers out there! Enjoy, and please share it with your friends.

First, I begin with a musical message, to my mommy.

Momma I just want you to know

I’m in love with you so

If you wasn’t here I’d be in love with you soul

My angel, mommy I’d die faithful

Just knowing somone tried to violate you

I’ll slide 8ths through the side of their facial

Squeeze and rip apart a side of their facial

I’d take a slug, eat a bullet, swallow a gun

Shit, you gotta know I’m your son

-The Diplomats feat. Juelz Santana, “Who I Am” (2003) (#FREEJUELZ!)

My mommy, Sayda (Sii-da), is the toughest, most genuine person I know.

My mother, with my younger brother in her arms. I’m on the red bike.

She’s loving, supporting, and always pushing me to become the best Andy I can be. Without her, I wouldn’t be here today. And that’s a fact.

And before this year ends, she’ll be the proud recipient of her bachelor’s degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Although a worthy accomplishment, she faced a difficult journey reaching this milestone.

Born in Honduras, Sayda traveled to the U.S at age 7, alongside her father, with hopes of a better life and education. She would move to South Bronx, in the home of her step-mother, an ignorant and abusive woman.

During the rare occasion Sayda misbehaved, her step-mother would keep her home from school, and clean as punishment. One example of the harsh discipline she faced.

Growing annoyed of her presence, the step-mother would kick her out the home when she turned 15, leaving Sayda to fend for herself.

Me in my mother arms while at 7 months old.

Fortunately, a relative was willing to take her in. Despite this, she would drop out of high school at age 16, after receiving terrible advice from the same relative she was staying with.

However, life appeared to be trending upward. At age 18, Sayda met a nice, tall, dark-skinned Honduran man at an auction. After a few dates they became lovers, and then moved in together. A year later, she gave birth to her first child, named Andy.

By age 24, Sayda would give birth to my younger brother Adam, and my younger sister Iveth. Now blessed with the family she always desired, Sayda began preparing for her new life.

That’s where the fun ends. Three years following Iveth’s birth, Luis left the family, leaving Sayda to fend for herself. This time with three children. The next decade was littered with another chapter of drama and turmoil.

Thankfully, Sayda would recover nicely and defy the odds stacked against her. In 2020, she finds herself inching closer to her 40th birthday, prospering, and feeling better than ever.

Me, in my mother arms once again, in our South Bronx home.

So, why do I share these stories?

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to highlight the treacherous path my mother traveled, to reach the success she’s now enjoying.

This piece is a thank you to her, for all she’s done for me, in spite of her rough upbringing and early adulthood. I now realize how tough being a woman, and a mom can be.

Thank you so much, mommy.

There’s one story that comes to mind, highlighting my mother’s toughness and the generosity of another wonderful woman.

We start in the winter of 2016. It’s my sophomore year, and I just completed the worst stretches of my life.

First, I’m was fresh off a nasty break-up with my very first “girlfriend.” Feeling heartbroken, it took me a while to get over her.

I running towards my father while on a road trip. My mother is in the background.

Second, due to some immature comments I made following our football team’s loss in the city championship, I became the most-hated individual in my high school. I quickly apologized to them, but the salt was still fresh on the wound.

Now, let’s fast forward a month, after New Years’.

I’m at home resting when my mother steps out to run a few errands. She returns an hour later, in tears. I ask what’s wrong. While struggling to formulate her words, she paused and said we had to leave our home.

Despite being a naive fifteen-year-old, I knew exactly what she meant. As a family, we’d been down this road before.

We were being evicted.

My mother, with my younger brother in her arms. I’m in the black shirt. This is during my 4th birthday party.

I embraced my mother as she began crying uncontrollably. As I attempted to console her, she repeatedly said she was sorry. Knowing how hard she worked to provide for the family, I assured her that this wasn’t her fault.

My mom delivered the news to my younger siblings. Now, the entire family is weeping.

Fortunately, we found somewhere to stay during this ordeal. My mother’s best friend Narelin (Na-da-lean), was more than willing to assist us in the time being.

After an hour of crying, I returned to my room and began packing essentials to take to Narelin’s home. We didn’t bring all our belongings, as my mom carried faith that we would return home soon.

As I packed I noticed my brother on his bed, still emotional from the disappointing news. I wrapped my arm around him and assured him that everything would be alright.

My mother, with younger sister in her arms, while on a road trip. I’m wearing the #7 sweater, with my brother to my left.

We traveled to Ms. Narelin’s home later that evening. Upon arrival, my family got settled in, with our uncertain future still on our minds.

With two families now living in a three-bedroom household, I felt a bit cramped. Despite this, Ms. Narelin did her best to make me feel at home.

Most nights my brother and I would watch television with Ms. Narelin’s son, while my mother and she would collaborate to cook some amazing dishes for the entire household. And before I went to bed, Ms. Narelin made sure I had warm blankets to rest under.

Ms. Narelin’s hospitality distracted me, and my family, from our current dilemma.

Ultimately, my mother worked her magic. For ten long days following our eviction, she traveled to the welfare office in an attempt to get her home back. On the tenth day, her prayers were answered. My family and I would be returning home. Just as she promised.

Me family and I while on a trip to Disney World in Florida, where we lived for 4 years. My younger brother didn’t like Mickey Mouse, resulting in him crying.

It was a bittersweet moment for me. I was returning to my humble-a-home, but I’d miss spending time with Ms. Narelin and her family.

Following that adventure, my appreciation grew for the two extraordinary mothers in my life. Being away from home was an uncomfortable experience for me. The persistence of my mother, coinciding with the kindness of Ms. Narelin, got me back to where I belong.

For that, I’m grateful.

It’s been more than three years since that ordeal, but I still think about it from time to time.

Me in my mother’s arms, as always, at our Florida home. My younger brother is in the background.

We’ve since moved from the building we were evicted from. Today, my family and I live two blocks away from Ms. Narelin.

Twice a week she’ll stop by our home to chat with my mother, and bring sweets for my siblings and I. Sometimes she brings us this amazing banana soda popular in Honduras, our native country.

It’s gestures like these that make me appreciate the mother’s in our lives. They’re always there when you need them.

Growing up in the South Bronx, there aren’t many male figures to admire. The neighborhood is filled to the brim, with single mothers forced to play both roles as parents. I’ve been surrounded by courageous women my entire life.

At times we take for granted how difficult being a mom can be. We often fail to see the strength of our mothers, due to their appearance and caring nature. Some mothers go to work, protect, nurture, and teach their children…by themselves.

We live in a society that treats women as second-class citizens. What’s overlooked are their roles as the unsung heroes that make this world run. They’re the rocks. The glue-guys. And they deserve more praise and respect.

I mean, you wouldn’t be on this Earth without your mother right?

Me and my mother at a scholarship event in the summer of 2019.

To conclude, shout-out to all the wonderful mothers out there! Thank you for supporting, protecting, and loving in spite of our flaws. To you all, have a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to my mommy and Ms. Narelin, the best mother’s I know.

(Originally posted May 9, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

College Decision Day

Me (left) and my best friend, Kebra (right) at our high school’s “College Decision Day” in May 2019.

Hello everyone! With National College Decision Day coming up, I wanted to share my story on how I decided to attend my college, SUNY Oswego. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends!

DISCLAIMER: With the COVID-19 virus impacting our world, let’s educate ourselves, and others, on how to prevent this virus from spreading even further. Remember to wash your hands frequently, practice social-distancing, and pray, that we can leave this pandemic behind us.

This story begins on January 31st, 2019.

It’s a typical Thursday. Get to school on time for study hall. Then, eight periods of classes. After, attend a second study hall session, before a two-hour basketball practice.

This day was significant for two reasons. One, former Knick Kristaps Porzingis was traded to Dallas, for Dennis Smith Jr. and stale chips. As a diehard Knicks fan, I can never get over that.

Kristaps Porzingis was traded from New York on the day I received my first college acceptance. Such a bittersweet day.

The second reason was, I received my first college acceptance. In the two weeks prior to this day, I was feeling anxious. Others in my seniors class were getting multiple acceptances before I got my first.

I recall coming home from practice that day. Before going upstairs, I checked the mail. There laid a thick envelope, from Iona College.

A smile stretched across my face, as I had an idea of what the envelope contained. I then entered the elevator to get to my apartment.

As I walked inside my home, I placed my belongings in my room, and darted for the couch where my mom was sitting.

I began opening the envelope. The first piece of literature read “Congratulations on your acceptance to Iona.”

My acceptance letter to Iona College.

I stopped reading and embraced my mother in tears. The acceptance provided me relief.

Before I began my senior year, I contemplated even attending college. What proceeded was the lack of acceptances, which led me to doubt my college-readiness. This envelope from Iona validated everything I worked for. This would be the first of many.

The only question now was, would I be attending Iona College?

Let’s fast forward to April.

I don’t remember all the schools I applied to, but I was accepted to most of them. Schools like SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Purchase, and Lehman College admitted me. However, my mind was set on one college: St. Bonaventure University.

The main reason for my interest was one man: Adrian Wojnarowski, sports reporter, and NBA insider. I admired his consistency and yearned to work in his profession. St. Bonaventure was his alma mater, and I wanted to mimic his path to success.

NBA insider, Adrian Wojnarowski. He was the main reason I wanted to attend St. Bonaventure University.

I was surprised I even got accepted. My GPA was good, but Bonaventure was a reach school for me. Nonetheless, I got in, so I believed my destiny was to attend this school.

I acted as if I was already a student. Two weeks into April, I attended an accepted student’s dinner in New Rochelle. My family and I were the only people that showed up, but I had an encouraging conversation with the Director of Admissions. So, at dinner, I verbally committed to the school.

A week later, my family and I traveled to Bonaventure for an accepted student’s orientation, and tour of the school. It was my only visit during the college process.

But, to be honest, the school was underwhelming. It just wasn’t my style. Despite that, I ignored my concerns and began gearing into the mindset that, I would be attending St. Bonaventure.

My acceptance letter to St. Bonaventure University.

It’s now the third week of April and National College Decision Day is slowly approaching. I’m back in school, in my fifth-period class: Participation in Government.

Today, our teacher (and college counselor) Mr. Harrison is discussing the different forms of government.

He usually would get off topic and begin talking about college-related issues: acceptances, financial aid, etc. It’s a class full of seniors, so he travels around, asking students which schools they got accepted to.

It’s my turn to speak. I answer him with a few random schools. I throw SUNY Oswego in the mix, and ended confidently, saying I might be attending St. Bonaventure.

After I finished, Mr. Harrison disregarded each school I said, except one. He asked if Oswego accepted me through the Educational Opportunity Program. I said yes. He congratulated me, then asked to speak with me following class.

My signature on the Decision Day board in my high school. It may cost a lot of money one day.

Once the class concluded, we retreated to his office and spoke for a few minutes. He again asked where I wanted to attend school. I said St. Bonaventure. He acknowledged that it was a good school, but an expensive one.

He asked to see my financial aid award. I handed it to him. He took a glance and quickly said I couldn’t afford the tuition. If I attended, I’d be in serious debt.

I didn’t realize it then, but Mr. Harrison was right. I was unaware of how much my mother could afford my tuition. I was wondering why I hadn’t sent my deposit to the school yet.

My mom claimed to be on it, but in actuality, she was stalling. She couldn’t afford the tuition, but didn’t want to crush my dreams. Plus, St. Bonaventure didn’t offer me any support programs. Programs I was eligible for.

So I went back to the drawing board. The next day I provided Mr. Harrison with a full list of my acceptances. He targeted two schools: SUNY Plattsburgh, and Oswego. We compared the school’s financial aid awards.

Me with the director of admissions at St. Bonaventure’s accepted student’s dinner. I was so close to attending this school.

There wasn’t one for Plattsburgh, as they were missing a document I had sent multiple them times.

So, we took a look at Oswego’s award letter. He said I would barely be paying a dime and highlighted the school’s strong journalism program. He believed it was the perfect environment for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t want to attend Oswego, for no particular reason. They had sent me a lot of mail, which was annoying.

I was disappointed with my circumstances. However, Mr. Harrison stopped me from myself, and from making a terrible mistake. For that, I’m thankful.

It’s April 30th, twenty-four hours before Decision Day. I have no idea where I’ll attend school.

I’m home now, on the couch with my lovely mother. It’s getting late, but I refuse to rest without making a decision.

Me while at the accepted student’s orientation at St. Bonaventure. Look at that smile!

I start warming up to the idea of attending Oswego over the past three days. There were several pros: well-known academically, far from home, and affordable.

Since we never visited Oswego, I search for a virtual tour of the school on my phone. My mother and I began viewing the campus, and we like what we’re seeing.

Right then and there, I had enough information to finally make my decision. I would be continuing my education at SUNY Oswego.

A year later, despite a shortened freshman campaign, I’m proud to say that I made the right choice. Shortly after my commitment, I began connecting with several students and faculty at the school, including my friends Leeza, Sekou, and Tyty.

During my short time at the school, I’ve been blessed to meet some wonderful people. From my roommate to professors, to the EOP faculty, each person is genuine and has my best interest at heart.

I’ve found my footing at Oswego. It’s been a fruitful experience and I can’t wait to begin my sophomore year. So yeah, that’s my story.

My acceptance letter to SUNY Oswego.

Not everyone is as lucky as I. In a few days, many students won’t commit to the right school. Some will transfer following their freshman year. Others may drop out.

This pandemic doesn’t make things any easier. A number of my friends that are seniors have expressed the increased difficulty of the college process. Visiting schools, and providing documents are challenging now because of this lockdown.

I admire the resilience of the class of 2020. Despite these circumstances, many of them are still chugging along, working hard and committing to some amazing universities.

To conclude, congratulations to the Class of 2020! I wish you guys nothing but success as you embark on this exciting journey!

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Ezekial, Carlos, Jamal, Shamya, and Mr. Harrison

Originally posted April 29, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

Hoops, While in Quarantine

Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson following their victory in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. The upcoming docu-series “The Last Dance” goes behind the scenes during their final season together.

Hello everyone! This piece discusses the basketball world from my perspective during quarantine, as well as ways I’ve entertained myself, while on lockdown. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends!

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss college. Surprisingly, given the fact that I don’t really like school.

Anyways, quarantine needs to end.

I kind of miss Oswego.

Despite this lockdown, I’ve managed to find the good and bad of being home. The good being, interacting with family every day, sleeping whenever, and the home-cooked meals I yearned for while at school.

The bad is missing the one sport that’s shaped my entire teenage life: basketball.

Hoops, or the NBA rather, are what I look forward to each day. It’s why I created this blog. Without hoops, it’s forced me to be creative with the content I publish. That’s a positive thing.

Looking at the stats for my blog posts, I’ve noticed that articles directly tied to the NBA gain 75–110 reads. Good, but not great.

In comparison, when I publish a story unrelated to basketball, it typically reaches 150 reads or more.

Despite my love for writing, it’s difficult to publish work that lacks viewership. It’s also repetitive when I write about a topic that’s on five other NBA websites.

The 2020 NBA playoffs were scheduled to begin today, April 18th.

Quarantine has helped me gain a variety with my literature.

That doesn’t mean I won’t write about the NBA, it just means I’ll be doing that less frequently, beginning with this piece.

Despite the attempts to diversify my content, I’ve stayed true to myself as a basketball fiend. Most nights I’m reading basketball autobiographies, listening to podcasts, or watching highlights from recent playoff series (Bobcats-Heat, 2014 1st round is a good one).

While conducting my in-depth basketball research, I often find inspiration. Watching the spectacular plays on video, or reading up about the all-time greats, inspires me to want to be as successful as the men on that hardwood.

Along with my usual activities, I’m looking forward to the upcoming docu-series titled “The Last Dance”, which goes behind the scenes on the 1997–98 Chicago Bulls. As they pursue a sixth NBA championship in eight years, their season is marred with drama and turmoil.

This series is the perfect distraction for me, and others during this life-altering pandemic.

While on the topic of the NBA, the league is doing a good, albeit cringe-worthy, job of keeping fans entertained during the quarantine.

They held the NBA 2K20 tournament, featuring the league’s top players battling each other in the popular video game. Although a great idea, the execution was lackluster. There should’ve been someone moderating the event, as well as players actually talented in NBA 2K20.

They’ve held a HORSE competition, WNBA draft, and other events during this time. Despite that, we still need our sports and our lives back.

As a society, it appears that we’re making out well while on quarantine. Yes, and not to sound unsympathetic, people are dying each day from this virus. But, I try to be optimistic.

Hundreds of celebrities, sports teams, and organizations have donated money and resources to COVID-19 affected areas. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says we’ve surpassed the peak of this virus, as patients are recovering each day. Texas may reopen their state soon.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a pivotal player during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Unfortunately, quarantine has placed this country in unfamiliar territory. We’re being robbed of the great outdoors, and the chance to create memories in the warm spring weather.

In my case, I’m being robbed of the game I love. The NBA playoffs are supposed to begin today. It’s a shame, given the uncertainty of the NBA season resuming.

However, things could be a lot worse.

For my New Yorkers, May 15th is right around the corner. Remain inside. Stay the course. This pandemic will end soon. Be strong, be healthy, and be safe.

Some tips on how to protect yourself, and others, from the virus.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Rickey, Dabo, Fatima T, Brandon G, and Brian.

Originally posted April 19, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

Hall Of Fame Status

Kevin Garnett (#5) and Kobe Bryant (#24) during Game 3 of the 2010 NBA finals.

Hello everyone! This piece discusses the impact and top moments from the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends!


Tim Duncan (#21) celebrating following the Spurs 4–1 victory over the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals.

Career Highlights: 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 2x NBA MVP, 15x All-Star, 15x All-NBA selection, 1998 Rookie of the Year, 2x ACC Player of the Year

One of the more underrated superstars ever, Duncan spent the entirety of his 19-year NBA career in San Antonio. The #1 overall pick in 1997, he immediately joined a playoff contender led by Hall of Fame big man David Robinson, who’d been injured for the majority of the previous season.

Duncan’s arrival provided insurance in the event that Robinson succumbed to injury again, and helped bridge the gap between eras. Fortunately for the Spurs, his impact was felt early.

Duncan averaged 21 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks en route to Rookie of the Year honors in 1998. The following season, San Antonio won its first NBA championship over the New York Knicks. Duncan would capture Finals MVP in the process.

He continued to improve. Duncan had his best statistical output in 2002, averaging 25 points, and 13 rebounds a night. He was awarded consecutive Most Valuable Player awards in 2002 & 2003.

My favorite memory of Duncan is in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals. Up three games to two versus Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets, Duncan delivered a closeout game for the ages.

In the 88–77 win, Timmy went for 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 dimes, and 8 rejections! He demolished the Net’s front line with his all-around play, resulting in his second NBA championship.

Tim Duncan will be remembered as a model of consistency and the ultimate winner. He’s the most humble superstar of his generation, as he always sacrificed for the better of the team.

The best power forward in NBA history, Duncan’s induction to the Hall couldn’t have come soon enough. Congratulations Tim!

Click below to watch Duncan’s highlights from Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals.


Kevin Garnett celebrating following the Celtics 4–2 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.

Career Highlights: 2008 NBA Champion, 2004 NBA MVP, 15x All-Star, 9x All-NBA selection, 2008 DPOY, 1995 Mr. Basketball USA

The most versatile, emotional player of all time, Kevin Garnett was ahead of the competition. His ability to space the floor as a jump-shooter, finish aggressively around the basket, and protect the rim led his team to victories.

Drafted from high school, Garnett was selected 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995. After a quiet rookie season, Garnett averaged 17 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks as a sophomore, guiding Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth.

Next, the Wolves would enjoy their best stretch in franchise history: eight straight playoff appearances from 1997–2004. That final postseason run, in 2004, was Kevin’s top individual season.

Minnesota won a franchise-record 58 games and advanced to their only conference final appearance that season. They would fall to the L.A. in six games.

Playing alongside vets Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, Garnett captured the 2004 Most Valuable Player award. His two-way play contributed to the Wolves’ success and was on display when needed most.

In Game 7 of the semifinals versus the Sacramento Kings, Kevin produces a historical stat line in the must-win situation. On his 28th birthday, he recorded 32 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks, and helped Minny advance.

Following the 2004 campaign, Garnett wouldn’t reach the postseason until 2008. That year, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award, as well as his first NBA championship. To conclude his career, he would reach the All-Star game four more times before retiring.

Garnett will be remembered as a top-tier competitor that always left it out on the court, and played with heart during each game. Congratulations on the induction Kevin!

Click below to watch Garnett’s highlights from Game 7 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals.


Kobe Bryant celebrating following the Lakers 4–3 victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.

Career Highlights: 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 2008 NBA MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA selection, 2x Scoring Champion, 1996 Naismith Prep Player of the Year

The late, great, Kobe Bean Bryant. One of the most successful athletes ever, Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others unfortunately passed late January in a helicopter crash.

Already a no-brainer Hall of Fame selection, the Hall elected to induct Bryant in 2020, to honor his life, and thank him for the mark he left on the game.

Bryant impacted a generation of athletes throughout the duration of his 20-year NBA career. He had an unbelievable work ethic, and a drive to become the best basketball player of all-time.

Off the court, Bryant was a loving husband and father to his wife Vanessa and their three daughters. He also served as a mentor to several of the top players across the association.

Bryant’s finest NBA moments include winning 5 NBA titles, scoring 81 points against Toronto, and scoring 60 points in his farewell game, among many.

Bryant may be gone, but he’ll be remembered for his stellar achievements and contributions during his time on this earth. Congratulations on the induction Kobe!

Click below to watch Bryant’s highlights from his final NBA game!


Tamika Catchings during an Indiana Fever press conference in 2019.

2020 HOF Inductees: Patrick Baumann, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, & Rudy Tomjanovich

This rest of this year’s class features a bevy of talented individuals across the basketball world. It includes:

The 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class will go down as one of the deepest classes ever. Each inductee left their mark on the game in one way or another. Rest in peace to inductees Kobe Bryant and Patrick Baumann. And congratulations to the Class of 2020!

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Ziera, Marcel, Ashanti, Roki, and Anyelina.

(Originally posted April 9, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

When Will This End?

Sports announcer and analyst Doris Burke. The 54-year-old was diagnosed with Coronavirus on March 27. She is symptom-free.

Hello everyone! This piece discusses my daily activities during quarantine, as well as my comments in relation to the COVID-19 virus, it’s impact on the NBA, and society as we speak.

DISCLAIMER: This piece isn’t used to discredit anyone affected by the virus, nor bash those and their use of time during quarantine. I’m simply utilizing the platform I’ve established for myself, to express my feelings on what I’ve witnessed during the past couple of weeks. Enjoy.

The last time I wanted to leave my home this bad, I was in elementary school.

I know I speak for many when saying, that the Coronavirus pandemic has left us all confused. The question most of us have is, when will this all end?

Visual representation of the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus)

Each day feels as if we’re taking one step forward, then two steps back.

Often times, I find myself watching the ABC World news. During the news coverage, for one segment, we’ll find out that people are recovering in one country. Great. Then for the next segment, they’ll announce that another person has lost their life due to complications of the virus. Not great.

The worst part is, there appears to be no clear endpoint for this madness.

Despite the negativity stemming from this pandemic, there have been a few bright spots to point out.

In order to prevent the spread of this virus, we must distance ourselves from each other in our respective homes. A practice also known as quarantine.

In other words, we’ve been gifted a break, and hopefully, we’re using this free time productively. Easier said than done.

Detroit Pistons F/C Christian Wood. Reports announced that the 24-year-old was cleared from Coronavirus on March 26.

My quarantine has consisted of Zoom meetings for my online courses, daily FaceTime sessions with friends, video games, home-cooked meals, and the bonding with family that began to decrease once I entered college.

I did some self-reflecting, using music and my spiritual beliefs to set out the goals I plan to achieve, once quarantine concludes.

I’ve even done some reading. Only caring for basketball autobiographies, my current literature has been Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by former NBA coach Phil Jackson. I definitely recommend it.

Boston Celtics G Marcus Smart. The 26-year-old announced he was cleared from the Coronavirus on March 30.

The main component that’s affected me during quarantine, has been the lack of my favorite sports league: the NBA.

Since the league was suspended March 11th, several players have since contracted, and recovered from the virus. Players include Christian Wood, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Marcus Smart

However, Knicks/ Rangers owner James Dolan and sports announcer Doris Burke have contracted the disease, thankfully symptom-free. It always hits home when those you admire are impacted by something like this.

Doctors in hospitals across the country have been working around the clock to help treat patients, diagnosed with the Coronavirus.

Another component failing to garner attention: the impact of quarantine. For some, it’s doing more harm than good. Within the last few days, I’ve spoken to a few friends who’ve been experiencing depression, due to loneliness and lack of productivity.

I can’t blame them. Often, when responsibilities are lessened, poor habits begin to creep in.

Their comments resonated with me. Like many, I’ve experienced both laziness and boredom. And whenever those two symptoms coincide, negative things tend to occur.

Dez-Ann Romain. The Brooklyn principal passed on March 23rd from complications of the Coronavirus. She was 36 years old. My prayers and condolences go out to her friends and family.

This isn’t to mention the thousands of people losing their lives every day to this pandemic. And according to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, we have yet to reach the peak of COVID-19.

Coronavirus has impacted our lives from both a physical, and now mental standpoint.

This past month feels like a chapter out of a horror book. Families have seen their lives turned upside down as a result of the virus. People are dying. Others are beginning to act differently.

Despite this rough patch we find ourselves in, we must view this situation from a positive perspective. Those lucky enough to be healthy, are being given a much-needed break. We’re being BEGGED to stay home. Use this time to your advantage.

Let’s pick up a new hobby. Maybe assess our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. Let’s rekindle old and lost friendships, or get closer to our maker. We should help others that may not be as healthy as us. Let’s find our passion.

Let’s just be productive. We’ll never receive a lay-off this long, again. If we can add beneficial artillery to our overall arsenal, and stay healthy, we’ll leave this pandemic in better shape than we entered it.

To conclude, my prayers and condolences go out to the family and friends of Dezann Romain. The 36-year-old Brooklyn principal passed March 23rd from complications of the Coronavirus. My condolences also go out to those who lost a loved one due to this virus!

Some tips on how to protect yourself, and others, from the virus.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!

Also, with the COVID-19 virus currently impacting our world, let’s educate ourselves and others, on how to prevent this virus from spreading further. Remember to wash your hands frequently, practice social-distancing, and pray, that we can leave this pandemic behind us.



*Special shoutout to Jaden M, Derwin, Daniel L, Kayla C, and Abisola.

(Originally posted April 1, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

Now, I’m 19!

As I turn 19, I decided to incorporate a few of my favorite baby photos growing up, in this piece. This photo is my mother and me.

Hello everyone! This piece recaps my 19th birthday, and briefs over my goals in my final year as a teen. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends!

DISCLAIMER: With the COVID-19 virus currently impacting our world, let’s educate ourselves, and others, on how to prevent this virus from spreading even further. Remember to wash your hands frequently, practice social-distancing, and pray, that we can leave this pandemic behind us.

The day started with a prayer.

My favorite baby photo. It’s me, most likely reaching for a bag of donuts, at age two.

It was 11:30 pm on Friday, March 20th. I was on FaceTime with a close friend. I had forced myself to take a nap hours before, so by the time I awoke from slumber, my birthday would have arrived.

As the clock reached closer to twelve, excitement crept in. Funny enough, I’d been waiting for this day since I turned 18.

My eighteenth birthday started off a crapshoot. The night before, I’d gotten into a disagreement with my mother, that easily could’ve been avoided. Filled with anger, I made some remarks I shouldn’t have and went to bed emotional as the time reached 12.

A picture of me, enjoying Fruit Loops in the South Bronx.

That morning, I woke up, expecting a proliferation of birthday wishes flooding my cellphone. Instead, my screen read “You’ve reached your time limit on Facebook”. My mom had enabled a parental lock on my phone.

I didn’t know how to feel. Granted, it may seem as if I exaggerated this entire situation, but look from my perspective: an 18th birthday represents a milestone. Entering adulthood, social restrictions are removed, etc.

Instead of enjoying my newfound privileges, I was stuck with a cellphone that only made voice calls and sent text messages, in the midst of a disagreement with my mother.

My little brother (left), and I posing for a photo.

To make a long story short, by afternoon my mother removed the restrictions, as we put our differences aside. Also, I didn’t go home that night.

My high school’s basketball team and I traveled to Glen Falls, NY to participate in the New York state high school boys basketball tournament. Rather than resting in my South Bronx home that night, I would fall asleep in a 4-star hotel, upon a queen-sized bed. Not bad.

Despite this, my eighteenth birthday wasn’t how I’d envisioned it months before. Therefore, I vowed to make the next birthday better than the last.

Now, back to my nineteenth birthday.

As the clock hit 12 o’clock that Saturday morning, I ran to my mother’s bedroom to embrace her. I was grateful to reach this age, in the midst of the craziness captivating our world.

My sister at two months and I, in our Florida home.

After delivering my birthday wishes, my brother, mother, sister, and I formed a circle and held hands. Our family tradition during one’s birthday is to share a prayer, wishing blessings during that person’s special day, and beyond.

As the prayer concluded, I embraced each of my family members, as they gifted me with a care package filled with cards and chocolates. It was so cute!

I then ran to my cellphone, at this point overflowing with messages via friends and family from all walks of life. I was overwhelmed, but thankful.

As I responded to each person who contacted me, I fell asleep. Waking up around 10 am, I was greeted with another flurry of birthday wishes.

The remainder of the day was magnificent. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 virus making things less than ideal, the closest people in my life made it a memorable occasion.

My family and I, during my sister’s first birthday celebration.

The day concluded with several of my closest friends gathering in my home for a thanksgiving-like feast. After we ate, my friends and I retreated to the lobby of my building, to capture photos for social media.

The age of 18 presented many experiences I’ll remember forever: playing in the NYS high school boys basketball championship, prom, graduation, my first semester of college, creating this blog, meeting ABC World News anchor David Muir, and much more.

Now turning 19, I pray it brings a new batch of life-changing opportunities like the year before.

My goal for the next 365 days is to remain consistent with “Andy Buckets”, as well as continually sharing my work, in an attempt to place it in the right people’s hands.

Besides that, I plan to improve my effort at school, in and outside the classroom. I’ll strive to play more competitive basketball, and revive my love for the sport that’s opened several doors for me (if anyone has a 19-under basketball team this summer, and you need a player, contact me!)

And lastly, I want to consistently improve in every facet of my life. I’m confident that I can reach another level of productivity, which will then get me closer to my ultimate goals.

Me, blowing a candle during my 4th birthday party.

To conclude, thank you to those that wished me a happy birthday Saturday. And thank you to the close family friends that made MY day special.

As I endure this journey, in my final year being a teen, I aim to be the best Andy I can be. I’ll utilize each opportunity that comes to my direction as a chance to learn, help others, and present myself, and my loved ones a better future.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to Latoya, Marvin, Chris, and Kebra, just because.

(Originally posted March 24, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

Coronavirus, From My Perspective

Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert. On March 11th, the 27-year old tested positive for Coronavirus.

Greetings, beautiful people! This piece will discuss the state of the COVID-19 virus (also known as Coronavirus), as well as its impact, from my point of view. Enjoy, and please, share it with your friends!

DISCLAIMER: I won’t be discussing the virus’s origins, potential cures, symptoms, etc. This is NOT an informational piece, nor a health guide. With that being said, please stay healthy, stay cautious, and wash your hands!

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. On March 11th, he announced that classes at SUNY & CUNY schools would move online starting March 19th.

I think I can speak for many, when saying I can recall my location when I received the information, that this virus was officially a pandemic.

In my case: I was in SUNY Oswego, sleeping. Desperate for rest between my final class of the day and work-study in the math department, I gave myself a 45-minute nap, enough time to prepare my brain for the remainder of the day.

I was mistaken. I slept for over an hour, making myself late for work in the process.

Upon entering my bosses classroom, I glanced at my phone’s home screen, as a notification read: “the Coronavirus is officially a pandemic”, on the CNN news app. I thought nothing of it. Criminally immature, I had the mindset, that if the virus didn’t affect me, it’s wasn’t important. So I head to work.

My boss directs me to make a delivery across campus. Perfect chance to burn time and listen to music.

As I began my voyage across campus, and reach for the Apple AirPods in my pocket, I can overhear some chatter from the school’s janitorial staff. They were discussing the breaking news: CUNY & SUNY schools would transition to online classes beginning March 19.

I was startled. That scenario felt bittersweet. Sure, I would be able to remain in my hometown, New York City, with my family, with home-cooked food, with my closest friends. However, there’s a reason I went upstate to attend school. The opportunity, the resources, the experience of living on your own. And now, it’s essentially gone in one day.

I know many college students feel this way.

Visual representation of the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus).

Make no mistake, our health is the most important thing, above all. However, that doesn’t hide the fact that our lives are being altered due to a virus that may not be as dangerous as advertised.

It’s a disappointing development, in a year filled with them thus far.

Following the announcement that Coronavirus had become a pandemic, the immediate response felt like a scene straight out a drama film.

It’s as if we are in a crisis. You begin to question: is this the beginning of the end? Did our ancestors endure this during the Great Depression? The World War? It all feels so surreal.

President Donald Trump. Since March 11th, he’s commented on the Coronavirus several times.

There are SO many questions left unanswered. What is the future of our society? What is the government doing to bring an end to all of this? How long will it take? Is the virus that serious? It’s a scary time right now.

The fear of the virus appeared to peak on the evening of March 11th. Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus that night.

That diagnosis prompted the NBA to suspend its regular season. The NBA G-League did the same. The previous time there was no basketball played, it was due to labor disputes. Nothing of this magnitude has ever transpired within the sport.

As mentioned before, it’s as if bits of pieces of our lives are being eliminated due to this virus. For me, I’m someone that lives off routine. To have that routine interrupted, without warning is, crazy.

You may be thinking, why is he complaining about the NBA? Is that all he cares about? That’s far from the truth.

It’s simply fear. If something as significant as the NBA can be suspended, think about what could be suspended next. Stocks are already plummeting. Think about the people that may have contracted the virus from Rudy, like teammate Donovan Mitchell. It’s more to it.

Utah Jazz G Donovan Mitchell. On March 12th, the 23-year old tested positive for Coronavirus.

Lastly, my biggest concern during this entire fiasco, is the aftermath. How will people act once this is over? Even simple things, like handshakes, daps, hugs, sharing food. Will everyone become a fearful, germaphobe?

Will Gobert be executed by the public, for his reported carelessness pertaining to the virus?

I may be exaggerating. Like many, this entire situation is unfamiliar to me. I’m just hoping for the best in these confusing times.

Some tips on how to stay safe from the virus.

To conclude, this last month puts life into perspective. If you’re reading this, to steer clear from the virus, regardless of its mortality rate, we must take the necessary precautions to do so. I’m no doctor, but I feel obligated to remind others what they should be doing.

After coming in physical contact with something that has germs, wash your hands, sanitize yourself. Cover your mouth when coughing & sneezing. Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. Avoid public places & gatherings if possible. Educate loved ones about the virus if possible.

And most of all, pray. Regardless of your faith & beliefs, positive energy & spirits will eradicate this virus before we know it.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends!



*Special shoutout to my mother, Ziyah, Chernor, Sekou, and Kwame S.

(Originally posted March 12, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)