BOULDER, Colo. — A father watching his son play ball is special.
Remembering the moments when you taught him how to play the game, "I was like man, I ain't winning no games," said McKinley Wright III, father of CU Buffs star point guard McKinley Wright IV, as he recalled playing basketball in the driveway with his son. "How you learn how to shoot way over by the tree? I taught you right here!'
It means even more when that privilege is taken away.
"Just keep calling and calling. I talk to him, 'Yeah dad. I’m doing this and doing that.' Then I get the articles in the mail and stuff."
Articles and phone calls were the only way McKinley Wright III could see just how much of a star his son was on the basketball court.
That’s because in 2008, his father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for trafficking in crack cocaine. Ten years of separation gave Wright IV a lot of time to think about his dad and ways to handle their relationship -- he chose love instead of anger.
"I look up to my father," said Wright IV, who is leading CU into NCAA Tournament contention after yet another stellar season in Boulder. "He’s done so much for my family. For my mom. The way he treats my family and everybody around me. He’s everything I want to be."
Wright IV could have made the relationship with his father disappear, but he chose a different path. The Roman numeral 'IV' at the end of his name is everything, "He’s my role model. It means everything to me. Anytime I’m writing my name on a piece of paper...I always got the IV at the end. That’s just who I am."
Wright IV has said it before: Those mistakes his father made 10 years ago don’t define him. So then, who is McKinley Wright III? "Love. When I say I look up to my dad, the character he has, if you ask anybody that knows my dad, they’ll tell you the love and respect he has for other people."
When asked about that love and respect his son talked about, Wright III recounted his childhood, "Oh yeah I was raised like that. My mom taught me, respect everybody. I don’t disrespect anybody. Why not teach my kid the same thing?"
"He wants us to be so proud of him you know which we are."
Ten years in prison isn’t easy, especially trying to be a dad at the same time. Wright IV acknowledges that the support he got from his family was vital.
"Visits, phone calls, mail, emails...without my family, you know, I got a lot of support. They helped me through it. I had to do my part."
There’s no doubt about it now: Wright III isn’t missing any more of watching his son, McKinley Wright IV, grow up.
"The sky's the limit. We’re just waiting to see."
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