Wallace Lane
3 min readJan 28, 2022


The year a young Kobe crossed an older Pippen /

tossed an alley-oop to Shaq to seal the start of 3-peat dynasty/

was the same year my 6th grade math teacher broke sad news

like a TMZ headline/

that only .3% of boys with NBA dreams actually make the cut/

… I suppose I didn’t care/

Because that same year I fell in love with West Coast Purple and Gold/the number eight like an upright infinity symbol/ Kobe rocking the bush we now call a cruddy/ a crown of sweat covered in the grace of basketball gods/That was the year I decided to pick up the rock/Trade in alley cement to compete on hardwood floors/ & before I had confidence I had a crossover that year/ That year/ I was a cold assassin in Breaking Ice in 50/ A mamba at trashcan basketball/all summer screaming Kobeee in my defender’s face/

but humility is a game of possessions/

because if I’m honest like a referee / that same year/ I was cut from the 5th grade basketball team/ coach said I had no dog in me/ My ego crushed like a blow out game in an away gym/That year/

shame followed the 11 year old me like a shadow/my humility two free throw shots with the game on the line/ that year/

hungry and eager to learn/I read in Sports Illustrated/

that in a 1997 playoff game vs the Utah Jazz/with the game on the line/Kobe Bryant/ then averaging 15 minutes off the bench/air-balled four of his only shots/Not one close to the rim/

From that I learned how that moment for him/was a hard foul to his confidence /a shot clock violation to the game he knew best/A full court press to his basketball genius/

& isn’t it funny that even your idols had to compete with themselves?/

Because that same night after the teams flight landed/the self-driven 18 year old pulled an all-nighter in a local high school gym/ 1000 shots until the sun came up/& from that I learned/

that preparation is a lonely gym/ a 1 on 1 game with yourself/ that you break your opponent down long before you see them/ to rebound you must block out the doubt in your mind/ that adversity is a packed and humid gym/

I guess what I’m trying to say here is/

Thank you to the Black Mamba/

Thank you for helping a boy like me win the competition in his mind/for defeating the scrutiny/ for making the team the following year/ showing me what’s it’s like to will yourself to success/

Thank you to the man that conquered two numbers/

One 8/ One 24/ One for success/Another for hunger/

Today I’m a English teacher and a poet/ My court is a classroom & my playbook is a journal/I spend hours reading while the world is asleep/I write every day like how I once practiced my in and out dribbles/I memorize words like a shooter does his jump shot/I run suicides back and forth lined paper/I compete daily in this game we call life/ I’m a mamba to the students I love/ a fierce competitor at saving their lives/

& I’m thanking the one who showed me this killer mentality/

Rest in Peace Kobe Bean Bryant/

Thank You Forever/



Wallace Lane

Wallace Lane is a poet, author, educator and now a self-acclaimed Young OG from in Baltimore, Maryland.