A special Happy Birthday to one of my good friends and heros, the great Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player. 89 years young today!

“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.”

Kimberly Smith grew up in Brooklyn. I met Kimberly in 2007 during The Book Bank Foundation’s “Shelter From the Streets” campaign, established by celebrity sports agent and philanthropist Glenn Toby. We travelled through all five boroughs of New York City stopping by shelters and even going under bridges and stopping by other homeless locations distributing clothing, books, toys, toiletries and hope to the homeless.

But it wasn’t until recently that I learned Kimberly’s story.

Kimberly has had some adversity in her life, but sports helped her through it.

“Sports have helped me tremendously during the most difficult times in my life. I learned discipline, never to give up, patience, and how to be competitive. This has also helped me in the work force. My brother was killed when I was 16 years but I remained on the basketball, volleyball and softball teams. I became more focused than ever and developed a game plan to achieve all of my goals. Whenever I felt my back was against the wall I never backed down but continue to push to forward with the mindset of succeeding. As a result I graduated in the top 20% of my high school class, earned my B.S. and recently earned my Master’s Degree. Each day I give gratitude for my accomplishments but never lose sight of my goals. With each loss I’ve encountered in life and playing sports, a great lesson was learned.”

So you see, we can either let difficult times beat us down, or we can have them lift us up. It’s a choice. It’s your perception of the situation that ultimately determines whether you succeed or fail.

If you can embrace challenges and difficulties and look at them as learning experiences that help you grow and get stronger, you are on your way to a winning mindset.

The next time adversity is looking you straight in the face, take a step back and ask yourself, “How do I want to perceive this?”

Thanks for reading and thank you to Kimberly Smith for being an inspiration to all of us.

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