For years when the high school basketball season ended. I would go to the empty gym and reflect on the previous season. A gym is a lonely place without players practicing or players playing in a game.
The gym feels forsaken without basketball players, basketball fans and the bright lights of a Friday night game.
Sitting in the empty stands, I would think about past seasons and the players who gave everything and left everything on the floor. What hurt were the players whose life were cut short and never had the chance to perform during a basketball season.
Sometimes, and this feels eerie, I would sit and I could sense the presence of my former players next to me. I decided I had to do something to give them another chance.
I wanted to coach them again…even yell instructions and glare at them to make them better players. But all from a sense of love and enjoyment of seeing their skills displayed.
When I was at Jackson County High School, Jefferson, Georgia, I had a young man named James (J.B.) Brown a talented freshman. He had the personality and athletic skills to be a super star and a Division One player.
Even today I can remember every morning how J.B. opened my door flashing that smile that brightened the room with a warm glow and yelled, “I got it coach.” That was a key that everything was under control.
The last day before Spring break that year, I saw that smile and heard that greeting for the last time. Over the holiday, he was killed in a car accident with his cousin going to a pickup game in a neighboring county.
To ease that pain, and the mental anguish from players dying. I wrote a novel: Purple Phantoms
This is a book based on real life and for all who loved a young person that died too early and never fulfilled their destiny or achieved their goals. I wanted to honor my former players. As I was writing that novel, at certain times I could feel a presence in the room. It was a warm feeling as If they were watching over my shoulder as I was typing on the keyboard.
After Purple Phantoms was completed, I read the manuscript and it seemed to come alive. If you read Purple Phantoms, you will sense the presence of young people in this fictional fantasy about a second chance to fulfill a dream.
Main Idea for Purple Phantoms: Five Ghosts, who were young basketball players that died too early, are given an opportunity to return to life. They inhabit the bodies of five living basketball players to inspire, motivate the five starters to the coveted State Championship. As they themselves continue to learn life’s obstacles that can only be overcome in growing up.
Five phantoms lurked invisibly in a tiny corner of the sky. On stormy evenings, they shed tears that added to the rain that splashed over the Earth. Sometimes, on the gym windows, rivulets of water streaked the clear glass panes, like tears rolling down the cheeks of an unhappy child.
Five marauders, seeking athletic human hosts, and a place for ghosts to take care of unfinished business, a state basketball championship.
They longed for a chance to bounce a basketball once more, to shoot a jump shot, or to make a steal again. They craved to feel the sweat and excitement that human beings feel as they run up and down the court.
Sure, they played games in the airless environment that all athletic ghosts float around in, but something was missing. The sweaty aroma of athletes and the noise of a cheering crowd filling a high school gym on a cold Friday night were essential elements. The Phantoms missed human emotions the most….