There are several skills I learned through sports. Through sports I learned discipline, how to control my anger, work hard and to be a team player. Patience was my biggest challenge which I worked on every day by helping my teammates and myself by being optimistic and enthusiastic for the game and others as we strive to reach our goals.

Michael Vick, an inspired 30 year old NFL quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles was incarcerated for participating in illegal dog fights. Dog fighting is a form of gambling in which game dogs are made to fight, sometimes to the death. Dog fighting is an illegal form of entertainment and may also create a revenue stream from stud fees, admission fees, and gambling. From Michael Vick’s conviction I learned dog fighting is illegal and I was disappointed to see him go to jail. Michael Vick started illegal dog fighting April 2007 and pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement on August 2007. When Vick returned home from his prison term and during his time in prison he realized he hurt not only himself but his family who loved him and were disappointed with his actions and his teammates because he was the team’s most valuable player. Through it all Vick’s unfortunate experience gave me the inspiration and insight to be disciplined enough to stay away from bad influences and to put my hard work to good use. I hope others learn that one bad choice can change their lives in many ways.

Kobe Bryant, a 32 year old NBA shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers has been an inspiration to me as he strives to be the best player on his team. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA and yet he is disliked and liked by many. I disliked him because other people liked him way too much. But then I thought to myself, “Why do so many people love Kobe Bryant?” I came to the conclusion Kobe deserves to be in the position that he is in because he worked hard for it. Kobe has five NBA Championship rings and that was in the years of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010.

Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships and people said that Kobe Bryant couldn’t win without Shaq. People said this because after the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals in 2004, Shaq left the team and the Lakers couldn’t win another championship. Kobe showed all of the fans that he could win without Shaq and won two consecutive championships. Through Kobe’s experiences and dedication to the game I learned to not let what others think of me influence how I play sports.

My football team experience has given me the confidence and dignity to say it’s OK to lose and winning is not everything. I was 12 years old in the year of 2009 playing on a youth football team called the Brooklyn Renegades. This was such a big experience in my life because I had to go to practice about 4 or 5 times a week, come home and do homework, then a football game every week. All of this was so tiring but then I found a way to handle things and balance the more important things in my life first.

My team was a very bad team because we almost lost every single game in the season. In certain aspects I felt like if I was the only person on the team because I was the only person optimistic about winning. My other teammates were rookies and so was I but I didn’t play like one. I was the best person on my team because I would carry my team by  scoring but then there was no defense being played from the team. There was no heart and no team chemistry in the game and that really got me mad but I learned from it. I can now say that this is one of the hardest challenges I had to face in life and I accomplished it. All of this experience on a football team helped teach me you don’t always have to win and you can learn from your mistakes and losses. This is why I found this experience playing youth football so rewarding.

After all of this experience and inspiration, I’ve come to the conclusion that all of this has made me a better person in life. I say this because I’ve matured more by the way I talk to people and act towards others, and to always try my best even if I don’t succeed. I am sure that Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant have inspired many people around the world and even people in the NFL and NBA, by their work ethic and success.  I hope to continue getting better in life like them, and inspire others to do the same.

This essay was submitted by Christopher Thom for the December 2010 – Scholarship. See and vote on your favorite essays here. From Christopher: “If I win I plan on spending my money on a laptop for school because the desktop at home is old.”