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Six. It is the number of kids in my family. It is also the number of basketball hoops we have broken during our basement basketball games. Throughout my childhood, my five younger brothers and I have shared extravagant adventures that have helped us to bond as siblings in many ways. With them, I have become both a leader and collaborator, able to confront and solve problems in my family and beyond.

My brothers and I used to spend hours in our basement playing three on three basketball games almost every day. With the score tied 94 to 94 and time about to expire, one of our games was coming down to the wire. Although we were dripping in sweat and looking exhausted, we were thoroughly enjoying every second of the game. My team had possession of the ball, and I stood dribbling it at the top of the key, waiting to make a move.

In a quick burst, I blew past the brother who was guarding me. With eager thoughts of victory in my head, I rose up for a monstrous dunk and slammed the ball through the rim. The two brothers on my team gave a joyous shout of triumph, but as my feet hit the ground, their yells were drowned out by a loud cracking noise. Our sixth basketball hoop plummeted to the ground. I had broken the rim off the backboard.

As I held the rim in my hands, we became quiet, solemnly remembering what our mom said when we had broken the fifth hoop: “You guys are not going to get anymore hoops if you break this one.” My mind raced for a solution to our problem, yet I could think of nothing. That night, my brothers and I sat around a table playing a card game. I was still thinking of a way to fix our dilemma, when, looking at the cards, I had a crazy idea.

The next morning, armed with old cards and duct tape, we went down to the basement. First, I directed one of my brothers to stick some cards in between the rim and the backboard. I knew that with the cards serving as a wedge, the rim would not fall down. Then, as he held the rim in place, I duct-taped the rim back onto the hoop and taped the cards into place. As I examined my makeshift creation, I began to doubt it would hold up. It was ugly and seemingly fragile, but after testing it out, it was more sturdy than I had thought. So right away, my brothers and I began a new game, this time with one new rule: no dunking.

Along with the number of hoops they have demolished, each of my brothers has contributed to my character in a different way. Micah, the second, has always been nipping at my heels whether in school or sports, and has pushed me to value diligence in everything I do. Trey is the family goofball and has taught me to loosen up and have a lighter side. With studious Joshua, I have cultivated my strategic thinking skills with him acting as a perfect chess opponent. Caleb is our super athlete. In my time of coaching his basketball team, I have come to acquire his tenacity and passion for the game. Silas is the baby and I’ve spent my summer hours tutoring him in reading and basic art lessons. In various ways, I have developed a sentimental bond with each of my brothers while growing in many dimensions.

Through my experiences with my brothers, I believe I have learned to value collaboration, leadership, and relationships. Each of our priceless bonds has contributed to the core of who I am. Wherever my road leads, no matter how far, I do know that the special relationship I share with my brothers will always be there.

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