Wayne Ellington starts his reflection on the loss of his father 18 months ago this way...
"My dad had two daughters that he loved very much, but I was his only boy. My mom and I have always been close, but my relationship with my father was something special. And because I was his only son, my dad gave me everything. He gave me a jump shot. He gave me love. And he gave me his name, Wayne."
Writing in Players Tribune, Ellington talks about his "Pops," murdered on a Philadelphia street corner on November 9, 2014. He notes how he found out about it, in an arena hallway, and the loss he and his family experienced, but Ellington mostly writes about what his father meant to him and his game.
"He was my coach at the YMCA in Philadelphia when I was little, and he pretty much just gave me the green light to do whatever I wanted. I was the biggest guy on the team, but he let me play point guard so I’d have the ball in my hands most of the game. And then he’d cheer like crazy when I balled out on those poor kids in that rec league. I’d be showing off handles, through the legs, behind the back, flash, sizzle — the type of stuff that a lot of coaches might bench you for — and my dad would be rooting me on louder than anyone else in the gym. That was his personality. He just loved watching me play basketball."
Now, he is involved in bringing the Peace Games to Philadelphia this fall as a memorial to his father.
"My hope is that the kids there can start to see the bigger picture. I want to encourage them to have goals. My dad served as such an important mentor to me. He encouraged me to dream. He saw my potential even before I did, and gave me this belief in myself that made me feel invincible."