SPARTANBURG, SC - JULY 30: Fans cheer on the Carolina Panthers during training camp at Wofford College on July 30, 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Two words: THINK BIG. So simple, yet so profound.
Even though the odds were stacked against him, Ben began thinking big about fifty years ago. But he didn't always think that way, and who could blame him.
You see, Ben was not unlike many of his friends who were being raised by a single parent in the projects of Detroit: Poor, disadvantaged, and completely uninterested in school. At the very least, he was about to become little more than a third grade dropout, as his mother had been many years earlier, or worse: he would spend much of his life incarcerated or end up dead. But mom wasn't about to let her son become a statistic without a fight.
Only Ben wasn't so much a hooligan as he was a television addict. Of course, there were obviously worse things that Ben could have been doing other than spending hour after hour in front of the tube. But his grades were failing, and something had to be done. Mom had a plan, and it was time to put that plan into action.
Her two fold idea was both simple and brilliant. First of all, Ben's television privileges were drastically reduced. Secondly, he was told to read two books per week with a written book report due at the end of each said week. It is no coincidence that this crucial turning point in Ben's life was just the catalyst he needed to catapult him all the way from the bottom of his class to the top, and ultimately, realize his future dreams.
Ben went on to graduate from Yale, and subsequently, the University of Michigan Medical School. Soon thereafter, he became the youngest(33) Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery that world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital had ever seen. One of Dr. Ben Carson's greatest accomplishments came in 1987 when he led a team of seventy surgeons who successfully separated the Binder Siamese twins, who were conjoined at the back of their head. This famous surgery was one of the highlights of the 2009 TNT movie(Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story) based on the book and life of Ben Carson(Cuba Gooding Jr. played the lead role). Carson also wrote a follow-up book entitled, "Think Big", which was/is the inspiration for this article.
How many of the Panthers' current roster were raised under similar circumstances and beat the odds? I'm quite sure there are more than a few guys on this roster who had the courage to THINK BIG in the harshest of environments, and here they are today, playing for our Carolina Panthers. No, they aren't saving lives as world-renowned surgeons in world-renowned hospitals, but many of them have been spreading a positive influence throughout the Charlotte community and beyond for many years now. In fact, players like Deangelo Williams, Steve Smith, Jordan Gross, and Thomas Davis are all shining examples of what can happen when you THINK BIG on and off the field.
What do you think Ryan Kalil was doing when he proclaimed a Super Bowl victory in a full page advertisement in the Charlotte Observer about a month ago? Sure, it doesn't seem sensible to make such an outlandish prediction when the Panthers are looking up at two superior teams in their own division, and at least several more in their own conference. But isn't this the ultimate beauty of sports, and life? If a kid from the projects of Detroit could go on to become the youngest ever Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, then a team full of guys who beat their own odds can achieve what seems impossible as well.
In case you missed it, the message is simply this: THINK BIG. The Panthers have already taken the plunge, so why don't you?