13 December 2011
The subject of my paper is a counselor at Alta Sierra Middle School, named Tyrone Bradley. Although his name is Tyrone Bradley, he is known as Tbone by the students and staff of the school as well as his friends. Tbone was born into a poor family fifty years ago in Marks, Mississippi. Here his family and most of his community lived under the poverty level. Tbone’s family of fourteen all lived together in a one room house. As a young kid Tbone would pick cotton for two cents a pound to make spending money for himself and to help support his family. Although things were much cheaper back then he recollects that it took a long time just to pick one pound of cotton. Tbone’s mother and father left Marks, Mississippi and moved to Chicago, Illinois to work to support the family. His grandmother looked over the family in Mississippi and taught them morals and values. Although Tbone’s grandma and parents did not have high school diplomas they would stress the importance of education.
Tbone would later join his parents in Chicago. Tbone recollected that his family was the only one he knew where the father was still at home. Most of the neighboring families had fathers who had either left them, gone to prison, or had been killed. He also said that his father was the only man he knew who had a real job; real job meaning that he didn’t sell drugs or pimp on the streets but had a salary and a nine to five. Although the love and guidance from his parents and grandmother kept him on the right track, he says that if it wasn’t for basketball he probably would have fallen into the gang life. He called him and his siblings “latch key kids”, when he explained to mean that they would come home from school and lock themselves in the house until their parents came back, crime was so bad in their neighborhood.
Tbone had started playing basketball in the third grade, the neighborhood was poor and they played on hoop with a wooden backboard and a bicycle tire as a rim. Tbone excelled in basketball and would play for his high school team that would become national champs a team that included now famous players like Doc Rivers and Isaiah Thomas. Although Tbone, was never a gang member himself or interested in the gang life he was well respected by the gangs in his neighborhood because they admired his basketball skills. The most common gang in his are, The Gangster Disciples offered him their friendship and protection even though he wasn’t one of them because they would be on his high school basketball games. Tbone’s school was 99 black, the only non-black being a girl from Puerto Rico. Although, there were many bright kids the teachers guided the students to not go to college but to go into work directly out of college. Tbone explains that the teachers were not necessarily racist but trying to ensure that they would get a job. Large majority of his class did not finish high school or move on to higher education.
Graduating from high school at seventeen, Bradley could have gone to almost any college with a full ride but chose Fresno State because he wanted to get away from the gangs in Chicago. At Fresno state he led the team to two PCAA championships. It was here that Bradley picked up the name Tbone because he was five feet nine inches and about 105 pounds and his initials were T and B. Tbone is considered to be the best point guard to ever play basketball at Fresno State. Tbone worked hard throughout college in fear of letting his friends and family down who were proud of him for making it so far. Tbone wanted to master in physical education but faced withed stereotypes his whole life he didn’t want to fall into another stereotype of athletes majoring in physical education. Therefore he chose criminology because the economy was bad and he felt that there would always be crime so there would always be a need for policeman. However, when he graduated he realized that he could never arrest anyone and he went back to school and got his masters in counseling. When he graduated, both Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified wanted him but he chose Clovis because they offered more money. He easily found employment because he was a local hero. Schools in Clovis Unified are well known to not have many African American employees, the nineteen years Tbone has been at Alta Sierra, their has only been one black teacher and she stayed for only a year. Tbone has constantly urged that African American teachers should be hired.
Tbone feels like he didn’t fall into the black male stereotypes that most his friends growing up did due to the moral lessons taught to him by his grandma and the value for education taught to him by his parents. Most of his friends sought to live the gangster life, getting respect and protection and making quick money. In many ways, Tbone is a direct contradiction to the stereotypical portrayals of black males in the media. Tbone values education more than anything else. He is always extremely well mannered. He doesn’t feel any need to hide his emotions and when he’s sad he cries freely whether it be in front of people or not. Tbone is extremely caring and always puts others before himself. Tbone has devoted his life to be an active member of his community and pushing for what he believes his right. Although he is just an advisor, he often opens debates with the heads of Clovis Unified whenever he feels justice has not been served. Tbone’s best friend is the general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats and through him he has brought Michael Jordan to basketball camps in Fresno for the last thirteen years to help inspire children.
While media portrays blacks to be very showy and image focused, Tbone tells people to judge him not by what they see but how he treats them. Tbone is modest about his accomplishments and says he doesn’t go out of his way to do what is right, he’s just being himself. He has affected the lives of all the children who went through his school and many others. Tbone has brought over fifty friends who were in trapped in the gang life from Chicago to Fresno to help them find another path. One such friend was Brian King, a member of the Disciples gang and one of the biggest dope dealers in all of Chicago. Once here King became clean and started the Fresno Street Saints, and organization devoted to keeping underprivileged kids out of trouble. Tbone has been awarded four keys to the city for all the notable community work and activism he has done. Tbone truly counters the stereotypes of African American males that are shown in the media. Tbone would be an example of exemplarily character whether he is black or white or any other race. Tyrone Bradley to this day attributes his success and character to his grandma for he says he thinks of her always before making a decision.