BASKETBALL dads have always got their budding superstar-sons' back.
Ask teen basketball sensation Kai Sotto, a hero to many young boys and girls who dares to pursue their dreams against all odds. The scrutiny that comes with his pursuit of the elusive NBA dream can be a bit much, after all.
Fortunately, Kai stays super amidst it all, thanks to his dad Ervin's unwavering support.
“Wala na akong masasabi na words kung paano ko pasasalamatan ‘yung Daddy ko and kung gaano ako kaswerte sa kanya,” Kai says of Ervin, whom he also considers his best friend. "Napakaswerte kong anak na okay lang sa tatay ko na gawin ‘yung mga hindi niya dapat gawin.”
For the past three months, the father-son tandem has become inseparable in the US, where Kai trains and further polishes his game.
Their killer schedule normally starts at 5:30 a.m. Ervin lets Kai use the bathroom first while he prepares his son's breakfast. At around 6:00 a.m., they're expected to be at the gym where Kai goes through another grueling day. As Kai rests after training, Ervin busies himself doing the laundry and other chores that need to be done.
Ervin has no problem handling this all for his son. "Kapag may kailangan siya na hindi na niya magagawa, ako na ang naglalaba ng damit niya,” said the 37-year-old dad. “Pero kapag magtitiklop, siya na. Ako na naglaba eh, siya naman [magtiklop] para matuto rin siya.”
Kai's dad believes it’s every parent’s job to help their child and teach them to be responsible. This is the reason he quit his post as an assistant coach at NLEX in the PBA to go with Kai to the US and take care of him.
“Matagal na akong hands-on parent kay Kai,” he said. "Kung may anak ka and then kailangan niya ng tulong, siyempre tutulungan mo, ‘di ba?"
To him, their current set-up is exactly what the moment calls for.
“May mga opportunity si Kai na hindi pwedeng baliwalain, kailangan niya ng guidance, so nandito kami lagi para sa kanya para mapadali ‘yung trabaho niya, makuha niya ‘yung dream niya.”
Ervin's sacrifice is a source of pride for Kai, who says even his trainers in the States are marveling at his dad's demeanor and efforts.
“Pati ‘yung mga tao sa US, sinasabi nila na sobrang swerte ko nga raw na may tatay akong katulad niya na sobrang supportive sa akin,” shares Kai.
"Sobrang ganda niyang example sa pagiging lalake, sa pagiging tatay. Alam mo ‘yun, ‘yung pag-alaga niya sa pamilya namin kaya sobrang halaga ng tatay ko para sa akin, hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko sa buhay ko kung wala ‘yung tatay ko."
Kai adds that he's working extra hard to reach his goals because he’s not only chasing after his dream but also his dad's.
"Sinabi niya rin sa akin na kung ano ang motivation niya, kung ano ang nagpapagising sa kanya sa umaga, is para daw sa akin,” says Kai. "Kasi ‘yung dream niya daw na mag-succeed sa basketball and mag-try na makapasok sa NBA, na hindi niya daw nakuha, ako ‘yung may chance [na tumupad]."
That sounds like magic to Ervin, whose heart swells with pride every time he sees his son live up to every moment and inch closer to his dream.
"Hindi mo ma-describe eh, kung meron pang susunod na mas mataas sa pagiging proud siguro ‘yun na ‘yun.”