Well, I read all of John Amaechi’s autobiography this afternoon. See the previous article, “As Others See Us”, for my reaction to the bit about me. Since the book isn’t about me, I’ll try to keep this post about him.
It was very interesting. He worked very hard to achieve something he wanted to do, and now is using the influence and money gained to do something he believes in. It’s something I can wholeheartedly approve of, too. While I wouldn’t do basketball, the ABC Foundation is the sort of thing I’d like to think that I’d do with the money if I had that much. John, of course, actually has it, and actually is doing it, which puts him a long way above my pure talk.
It’s also clear from the book that it is deeply unpleasant to be gay and in the closet, particularly in a homophobic society. I’m glad he’s been able to come out.
Overall, though, it sounds like his life has not been very enjoyable. Starting from the betrayal by his only friend at primary school (it wasn’t like that, honest), he doesn’t seem to have had much luck with friends, and wasn’t even doing a job he particularly liked. It’s hard to shake the impression that it all starts now: now that he can give his time to mentoring young basketball players, and doesn’t have to worry about the press picking up on his sexuality, he can actually get on with living his life.
I guess you would get more out of the book if you knew anything about basketball; I’d heard of some of the people he mentioned, but not all, by a long chalk, even of the ones mentioned without any other reference, as people “everyone knows”.
With the perspective of the whole book, it looks like I really hurt him back when he was 12, enough that it still smarts 25 years later. It would be nice to have the chance to apologise for that. Alas, I can’t think of any way to do it that might sound even vaguely sincere (“Hey, famous millionaire, I’m really sorry I was mean to you at primary school, can we be friends again?” Hmmm…), and 25 years after the fact is, after all, a bit late. I don’t even have any clear memory of what I did anymore, although, as I mentioned, I do remember feeling that I’d got it wrong, somehow. I’d like to apologise, because it hurt him and I think I must have been in the wrong (I can’t even directly remember that). Public expressions of regret don’t count; I would need to apologise directly. And that looks impossible.
On the other hand, it looks like it smarts 25 years later. It doesn’t look like I played a major negative role in his life. I certainly hope not.
Anyway, I can go on playing no role in his life, as, I can hope, the best is yet to come.