As an American, one of the first things my parents taught me was to honor my veterans. I remember learning about all of the veterans in my family: cousins, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles. While I admire all of these people, my biggest hero, when it comes to veterans, is my Papaw Jessee. To some of you, this name may sound familiar, and to others, it may not. Those of you that know my grandpa probably know him from his legendary coaching days, specifically when he coached alongside Mr. Bob Nobbe in the 2006 State Championship victory. Community members see him as a respectable man with a good sense of humor and a rough exterior. While these things are true, there is so much more to him. 

My Papaw is the perfect picture of tough love, perseverance, and hard work. He will rarely tell you that he loves you, but his actions shout it loud every single day.

Let me give you an example: 

When I first started playing basketball in the fourth grade, he bought me my first basketball goal. I played on this goal for years and years. My Papaw would help me work on my shooting form, perfect my dribbling, and he rarely missed a game. Even when I was in middle school and high school, he would be at more games than he missed. He was never easy on me and always made it a point to correct me where I messed up. Nevertheless, he always balanced corrections with compliments and reminders that I was constantly improving. I cannot honestly tell you that I always liked it, but his harshness and corrections helped me grow, not only as a basketball player, but as a person. 

My Papaw works harder than almost anyone I know. Between basketball games, playing cards, visiting all of his grandkids, gardening, and talking to many community members, his schedule always seems full. No matter how out of breath he is, how tired he is, or how much running he had done that day, there is always time for his grandkids. No matter what it is (letting us spend the night, taking us to dinner, or talking about basketball strategy), he is always willing to make extra time. He is a compassionate person with a desire to help those he cares about whenever he can in whatever areas possible. 

Many people who look at my grandpa would not think about these things. However, his personality is so much deeper than a retired basketball coach with 10 grandkids and a garden. Although he does not discuss his days in the military often, I will be grateful for the rest of my life that he served for my freedoms. My Papaw is my hero in so many aspects. I admire him so much and he has helped me become the person I am today by instilling good values and morals into me. 

Papaw, thank you so much. I love you.