Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eye Black Challenger: Nadin Khoury

Think about what courage it takes to stand up to bullies.  Especially bullies with AK-47s.  This isn't hyperbole.  This was this kid's mom experience, and then his.  She escaped Liberia after her father was murdered and now her son is bullied because she is African. 

Rebecca thinks about the rebels in Liberia. Thinks about how they found her family hiding and dragged her father into the streets and murdered him there. Thinks about standing up to bullies, even the ones with AK-47s.
"I say to my son, 'Are you ready for this? This is not going to be little. This is going to be big.' And he says, 'Yes, Mommy.' And I say, 'Are you ashamed of anything?' And he says, 'No, Mommy.' So we do it."

So what good came from this one family standing up to bullying? 

The Philadelphia Inquirer writes a piece. A staffer at "The View" reads it. She finds out Jackson is Nadin's favorite player and reaches out to the Eagles. The Eagles call Jackson.

Jackson thinks of his childhood in South Central LA. Thinks of the bullying that went on in his childhood, the kind that ends in mothers flung across coffins. Thinks of Desmond, his 13-year-old brother.

"He's a small guy too," Jackson says. "Nadin reminded me of him. When I thought of kids doing that stuff to my little brother, man, that really got to me. Made me want to get my hands on those kids."
Next thing you know, Nadin is on a couch with his favorite NFL player at -- and on -- his side. Jackson takes the jersey he's wearing off his back, signs it and gives it to the kid. Then he gives him his cell phone number to back it up.

It only gets better from there.

Jackson starts an anti-bullying nonprofit -- DeSean Jackson Against Bullying. The family receives Eagles tickets, 76ers tickets, jerseys, T-shirts.

The director of admissions at Valley Forge Military Academy, LaToro Yates, sees "The View." He thinks of the bullies in his childhood. Thinks of the boys who terrorized him for the way he looked, the way he talked, the way he dressed.

Next thing you know, Nadin is being invited to the VFMA campus, where men like General Norman Schwarzkopf and J.D. Salinger and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald once walked.
"I admire this young man's courage," Yates says. "It takes courage just to come to school the next day. But to step up and go public with it to help other kids? Wow."

The academy is "working diligently to make the young man a cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy starting this fall," says Yates. Free.

Watch the clip and listen to Nadin talk about why he decided to stand up against his attackers, and that is because they might hurt someone else.

Sometimes you are not just standing up for yourself, but also for others you may never know or meet.  Let's all take this family's example and not only stand up for ourselves, but for those less fortunate or able than us.  We are all leaders, great and small, because even our simplest decisions can influence those around us for good or for bad.