Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Law of being unAverage: Amber Ramirez

Of the 40 or so players that played at UTSA on Tuesday night, how many of them were on Twitter or texting their teenage crush until the late on Monday night? How many of them were watching TV or playing video games? True, some of them were surely studying all night but how many of these players, some playing the biggest games in their high school careers, did nothing to get better? I know where one player was at 11pm on Monday night, she was at a Gold's gym shooting hundreds of shots for the thousandth time in her young life.

The saying goes, "Youth is wasted on the young". Amber Ramirez has not wasted her youth on doing young things. She has worked on her game with a focus and passion that is contrary to many of her counterparts. She is that story, the kid that is always in a gym.

Not ten minutes after entering a gym five years ago, game revealed itself. A tiny 4th grade player split a double team, performed a one handed crossover against the second defender then  scooped in a right hand layup, and finished around a third player without securing it with the left hand. I sat at attention and asked the guy sitting next to me "where are the parents of that kid"! The guy next to me motioned to Amber's father, sitting immediately to his left. I introduced myself and shook his hand. Nothing else was said. Nothing else needed to be said. Any fool could see that this kid was special and NO ONE is born with game, especially a tiny 4th grader that had the physical frame of the kids that you see playing softball. The mutual understanding was that NO kid is born so gifted, so polished with skill and basketball instincts. After a few more sequences, I saw the obvious, Amber Ramirez was not the average player, in fact, she is one of the few that you could call elite. Yes, at 9 years old.

Amber Ramirez put on a show last night. Go back into the recent history of SA playoff basketball and her 31 points on less than 20 shots has to rank among the best. And she is 14 years old! Ramirez hit  five from downtown, one literally from almost down town, in the first half on her way to 17 pts. Reason has it she would cool down. Nope! She scored 14 more in the second, two more 3's.
I have purposely NOT written about Amber this season. I am too familiar with the fact that familiarity breeds contempt. I know that the insecure would take her early success as personal fronts to their well being! I understand that some fathers, unwillingly to dedicate themselves to their child's goal, would beat the drums of envy. I knew it was coming. When many of the nation first learned and Googled the names Meighan Simmons, Jessica Kuster, McKenzie Calvert, and Kyra Lambert, it was this blog that the search engines would provide. Sitting behind a couple in attendance to see the next game, they saw Amber showing out and Googled her name. They were provided with a Premier Basketball Report article detailing what the nation knows. She is a Top 10 kid by Peach State Basketball. She is ranked as the 3rd best kid in the state by PBR, in a talent heavy 2016 class. She has multiple offers(not letters)from schools in the Big 12 and is being recruited by every major conference in the country. Her first division D1 offer came as a 7th grader.

What the article did not detail was that as a 7th grader, in the same UTSA gym, Amber broke the record for 3 point makes for 1 minute during the UTSA Elite camp with 17! The article did not discuss that she is a kid that often played against boys, while her "friends" teased her for it.The calm and collected  kid this couple saw was a product of playing up 3 years in some national events. The article did not detail the time she gave 28pts to a commit slated for the University of Oklahoma. The article could contain that last summer she was the talk of an elite camp last that featured kids two years her senior, one bound for a team with more national titles that one hand can count. Or that Amber has been called a young Sue Bird by someone qualified to make such a pronouncement. That couple did not have a dog in the fight and Ramirez had shown them what many who took an unbiased look already knew; the kid is different.

The "law of averages" is usually referred to things having a way of evening out. Amber Ramirez proves the law is correct in a different way. She has refused to be average. She has refused to work like the average player. When the detractors talk, she is learning to not listen, unlike the average kid. The game of basketball does not "even out". The best are not chosen through natural selection. The best players usually have the best work habits(work smart and hard) and a fertile environment allows them to grow their game. While many were constantly comparing themselves to Amber, she continued to be unAverage in her focus and her performance rightfully reflected how different she truly is.