He was planning to use the proceeds to fund his dreams.
We vigilantly protected the memorabilia my son collected at the Michael Jordan basketball camp, Flight School, for ten years after the last camp he attended. We carried it back from California to Texas each year. He would carry it in a bag which never left his hand, and I would keep an eye on him and it the entire trip. I stored it at home, and took it with us through selling our house, and two moves.
We had a signed basketball, signed photo, two signed posters, and a signed book. These were after we sold a couple of the first items to pay for subsequent camps. I wrote about how pitiful I was about that in this article, as well as how determined my son is about achieving his dreams.
We still have the signed basketball, book and one of the posters. Unfortunately, a poster and photo, and the affidavit of authenticity for the basketball were “stolen” or lost in 2018. And it’s my fault.
Not only that, the one poster we have left has the Upper Deck authenticity affidavit, but it’s the wrong one. I discovered that when I took it to be framed, and the framer pointed it out. I tried for several years to get it replaced, but wasn’t successful.
Don’t misunderstand, the poster itself is valuable to my son, simply as a piece of art work and a memory. It’s Michael’s wingspan poster, Wings, so it’s an impressive six feet long, vertical photo of Michael with his arms out, cupping a basketball. It’s hung in my son’s room for nine years, and currently is in the room I keep for him to stay in when he visits from following his dreams in Los Angeles.
Sadly, the poster that’s gone is the photo of Michael’s wingspan from behind. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen another one anywhere. The front facing, signed ones, sell for thousands on ebay and other sites.
These aren’t the first Michael Jordan memorabilia stolen from us. “Space Jam” came out when my son was little, and my mother, his Mimi, bought him a Michael Jordan doll, that when activated said, “Let’s play some basketball.”
He loved that doll, especially after his Mimi died suddenly in a one car accident when he was eleven years old. The year after, I used part of the money we received when she died to take him to his first Michael Jordan basketball camp.
My son’s memories of Michael Jordan and his Mimi are entertwined. My mother had to face her own inner prejudices when she learned I was having a Half-Black child. She loved my son with everything she had, and learned to love Michael Jordan while watching Space Jam with my son. Over and over and over. My son was three when it came out.
“He’s so adorable,” she would say. “So handsome and mischievous looking.” She could’ve been talking about her grandson, but she was referencing Michael Jordan in “Space Jam.”
Once, when we were out of town, my pet sitter let a friend and her husband visit. The husband was a druggie. When we returned the doll was gone. It was hard to tell who was more devastated, me or my son.
I spent years looking for a replacement. No luck. All we had left was one of the doll’s shoes. A small, sad reminder of my son’s memories of watching the movie with his grandmother.
Eventually, “Space Jam” was released again on Netflix. People went into their attics to find “Space Jam” memorabilia, and I found the doll on ebay and ordered it. It never arrived.
I went back online, found another one for $40. When it arrived, I called my son to come over for a surprise. He’s twenty-seven, twenty-six at the time. I arranged the Michael Jordan doll, still in the original packaging, alongside a “Space Jam” Bugs Bunny and one of the aliens we had from the original collection.
He walked in the door, looking puzzled, and did a double-take. He laughed turned, his back, turned back to the doll, and picked it up. I reminded him the original had been a gift from his Mimi, and we both got teary.
I lost the Michael Jordan Flight School basketball camp memorabilia when I totaled my car two years ago. My son was in another city, and I called to tell him the Doctor I had just seen had suggested a knee replacement, and he encouraged me to do it.
I hadn’t eaten, and was turning left across three lanes of traffic on a flashing yellow light. The cars in the two outer lanes missed me. The one in the middle lane, a young girl, didn’t see me, until she hit me. The impact spun me around, I clipped a truck, and all of our air bags went off. My car called 911. Who knew it could do that?
My son heard me yell, “Shit,” and then heard the crash. It brought back the trauma of his Mimi’s car wreck.
Even more traumatic, he couldn’t reach me after that because the car called 911, and they kept trying to call me back, while the guy in the truck and I were getting my car and hers out of traffic. He was almost thirty minutes into the three hour drive to me when I finally was able to get back to him.
I was surprisingly calm. He was not. After the police came and tow trucks arrived, I walked to the restaurant and ordered brunch. And wine.
A friend picked me up. “How can you be so calm?,” she asked.
I responded, “It’s only a car.” And I meant it. When you practice Mindfulness, your reactions to things are very different. I wasn’t attached to the car.
Insurance covered most of the totaled car. When it was time to haul the car to demolition, the garage owner called and asked if there was anything in the car I needed. I had looked in the trunk after the wreck, and there was only a blouse and trunk stuff. I asked, “Is there anything in it besides the few things in the trunk?” He said no, so I said no.
Two years later, this past July, my son finally achieved his dream of moving to Los Angeles to further pursue acting, videography, writing, editing and production. He’s wanted to live in California since I took him to his first Michael Jordan camp at age twelve.
He asked me for his Michael Jordan memorabilia. I had moved three months before the accident, and thought I knew exactly where they were. I first searched his closet. No easy feat. He had “moved out,” but his closet was stacked like the closets in comedies where you open the door and everything falls out. If only.
I had to dig through it all, and started to feel anxious when it wasn’t there. But there were plenty of other places. My closet, equally chaotic, the office closet and drawers, several large, free-standing cupboards, and the trunk of both cars.
When it finally became clear that they weren’t here, my stomach sank, my heart pounded, I flushed with shame, and generally felt all the things you might have expected me to feel after the car wreck, when I was instead calm. I may not be attached to the memorabilia, but I hate disappointing my son.
After a lot of inner and outer searching, with Mindfulness practice only helping to keep my feelings from taking over entirely, I finally realized the only place the memorabilia could be. In my wrecked car, long since towed off to oblivion.
I think now I must have had it in the car to get it framed. The restaurant I was headed to was in the same shopping center as the frame shop I use. The accident, and all the resulting red tape and paper work must have caused me to forget. Trauma can do that.
So now what? Sale of even one poster, or the basketball, or the photo of Michael winning his first Bull’s championship, could finance a few months of rent in the L.A. apartment he shares with two roommates. Or, it would make a nice investment to let grow in value, in case he needs it to finance his dreams.
I generally don’t hang onto things. I have artwork I love, and books I value. Some of my son’s baby clothes are packed away, and a bag of stuffed animals. My mother and I didn’t have the same taste in things, so I have very little of hers. I held onto the memorabilia for my son. And then I lost it.
What really matters, of course are the memories my son and his grandmother shared, and the ones he and I share of the trips to California to the camps. But memories won’t buy groceries or pay rent in L.A., the City of Broken Dreams. Michael Jordan memorabilia could have.