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— EDITOR’S NOTE: I thought it would be interesting to reflect on somo old columns. This one was published July 8, 2007 in the South Arkansas Sunday News.

I had no doubt what was coming in this space from me this week.

After last Monday, a professional athlete making a tough, but correct decision, is what I planned to share with everyone.

It’s a great story and even special since it involves someone from Arkansas.

However, Ann Killion of the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News stole my thunder with her commentary entitled, “Fisher proves some still do right thing.”

The more I thought about it, the clearer it became that her commentary wasn’t suppose to be mine or her thunder alone.

It’s a story the entire sports world needed to hear about and for athletes to double check to see if their priorities are in order.

It’s the type of story that can be told over and over again.

Derek Fisher is one of many Arkansas boys who beat the odds and made it to the NBA.

Million dollar contract, fine cars, flying from city to city, playing before thousands of fans, big homes and other luxuries of the NBA are what many kids are dreaming about.

Not only did Fisher make it to the NBA, but he was fortunate enough to play for the championship Lakers and earned those hard-to-get championship rings.

He got his huge contract from the Utah Jazz and decided this past week to walk away and leave nearly $21 million on the table.

In fact, he was quoted as saying it was “the contract I worked for my entire life to secure.”

A young athlete today who is aspiring to reach the professional ranks, would probably say Fisher is crazy for leaving that much money behind.

Yes, that athlete would be young and hasn’t really lived long enough to put his or her life’s priorities in order.

From Fisher’s own mouth, he said “life for me outweighs the game of basketball.”

He displayed that by walking away from the millions to be with his 11-month-old daughter who has a cancerous tumor in her eye.

Family over finances was a “nobrainer” for him.

Fisher said it’s hard for folks to understand what he and his family are giving up.

There’s no job, career, hobby or activity that should carry more weight than family.

Society has changed so much that televisions have taken the place of parents in the home.

Too many parents are allowing TVs to talk to their kids instead of them doing the talking.

The Utah owner said, “He’s (Fisher) focused on the most important thing.”

There are probably others, but Fisher is the poster boy today when it comes to priority.

He’s the example for all of us to follow and it doesn’t have to be the NBA or some other professional sport.

All of us should, regardless of what occupation we’re in, focus on what’s really important in our lives.

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