If twenty years ago the life of an average engineering student at UB was under a microscope, I'm sure I could have made the papers at least once for being a clueless chucklehead.
People make stupid mistakes in life. The Lord knows I can pile my mistakes up a mile high and they did not stop when I hit age twenty or thirty. I'm pretty sure when forty rolls around I'll still make some mistakes.
So when I heard Lamonte Bearden's suspension was related to testing positive for Marijuana I breathed a huge sigh or relief.
Using Marijuana was stupid, it was wrong, and he really should have known better. No matter what your stance is on what the legal status of herb should be, it's currently illegal. My older siblings grew up when an 18 year old kid could drink; I grew up when it was 21.
Still, getting drunk in the dorms at 19 was damn foolish of me, no matter how arbitrary that rule had seemed.
Had I been pinched for it I would have deserved whatever discipline came my way. Thankfully I was not putting a scholarship at risk, nor did I harm anyone else. Also, once again, nobody cared what Tim the engineering student was doing.
That being said the lapse in judgment was not violent, criminal, or malicious towards any other human being. It was just stupid. The worst thing to come out of the whole experience is that Lamonte hurt the team in a game. It was just a game!
Aside from watching a team I root for lose a game where we really could have used you, I was not harmed in the least by your mistake. As a fan, and as a man who made it through my 20's relatively in tact I do sympathize with what you did.
As a father I often have to discipline my kids and I hate doing it each and every time. It was not until I was a dad that I understood how important the healthy application of discipline is to grow character in people of all ages. Missing three games sucks, but if you can harness this experience to be a moment of growth it will be something to celebrate.
The entire point of a three game suspension is to make you a better Lamonte, a wiser Lamonte. You're a gifted athlete, and by all accounts a friendly, kind young man. Now it's time to add to that by becoming a wiser leader who makes prudent decisions. I'd rather lose all three games and have you be a wiser man when it's all said and done than to have you play in spite of the mistake and win the next three.
The departure of Shannon Evans, Justin Moss, Will Regan, and Xavier Ford made Bearden, who is only a sophomore, a team leader. So far this season he has grown into the type of guy who can carry this team to more MAC Championships.
Now it's time to straighten up the off court stuff. There are some things that I hope he thinks about in the coming days.
The type of judgment error Lamonte made is completely forgivable. The first time I piled in home a bit drunk while underage, my mother let it slide with a reprimand. But, she made it pretty clear that the next time would have serious consequences.
Justin Moss made a terrible mistake and got a small punishment for that. He repeated the mistake, lost his scholarship, and his senior year. Desi Green was shaping up to be one of the best wrestlers in UB history. Unfortunately he was repeatedly screened positive for Marijuana. He lost his scholarship and left the school without a degree.
Anyone who he are getting high with is not the kind of friend who will lead Lamonte to a happier more successful life. They might be swell guys, fun to hang out with and often dependable, but when push comes to shove they let him do something with them that puts his scholarship in jeopardy.
My hope is that Lamonte takes this event to heart and keeps himself out of situations where this isn't even an option for him. We all make mistakes, successful people learn from them and don't repeat them.