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Directions: Read the story and answer the questions that follow.

A Gift From Dad

1 Travis laughed as he tore at the wrapping paper on his birthday present. He was so excited that he could hardly stand it! Finally, he would have the coolest pair of name brand shoes on the planet. He had dropped virtually a million hints about the exact brand and colour, and now he was eager to try on his new shoes and go play basketball.

2 Currently, all the guys on his basketball team were wearing the name-brand shoes of a popular basketball player, Chuck Hart. Although he was a great player, Hart was criticized in the press for his poor sportsmanship. Even his teammates occasionally complained about his bad attitude. In fact, Hart had been fined thousands of dollars because of his notorious behavior. Travis wasn’t thinking about Hart’s behaviour; he had only anticipated seeing Hart’s name on the side of the box. The first indication that something was wrong came as he ripped away the last remnants of paper. The name on the side of the box in his hands was not Hart’s. His new shoes were the name-brand model of another player, Robert Ryann. Ryann played for a different team and was known for his work in the community.

3 “Ryann is an amazing player, isn’t he?” asked Travis’s dad. “He’s always been one of my favourites.”

4 Travis’s hands froze; his heart stopped. It wasn’t that the Ryann shoes weren’t nice, but what would his friends think? Travis was a valuable member of the team; he could dribble quickly and pass well. He was a solid outside shooter and got along okay with his teammates. Still, he sometimes didn’t fit in with the other guys on the team and had hoped that the Hart shoes would help.

5 “Well, come on, Travis. Open the box!” his dad said. “I got them on my last run down into Texas.”

6 So that was it. His dad, a long-distance truck driver, had been misinformed by a salesman in Texas. Who knows? Maybe in Texas those shoes were really considered cool, but not here in Virginia. No, not here. They were the wrong shoes and he would be teased by the other players if he wore them. When he looked up into his dad’s eyes, however, Travis knew he couldn’t tell him.

7 What a dilemma, Travis thought. Wear the shoes and get laughed at by the guys, or don’t wear the shoes and hurt Dad’s feelings?

8 “Thanks, Dad. I was really hoping for shoes,” Travis said as he pulled the shoes out of the box.

9 Before he knew it, Monday morning found Travis in the car while his dad drove him to school. He noticed that his dad was uncharacteristically silent, staring straight ahead instead of jabbering away or singing a song. Travis was too worried about what the other players would think to spend much time figuring out his dad’s unusual behaviour. 7 10 When they pulled up in front of his school, the situation was worse than Travis thought. His dad said, “Well, looks like all your buds are here. I’ll just drop you off.”

11 Travis nodded, trying to think of what to do. Seeing no alternative, he slowly opened the car door. Just then, his dad stopped him. “Hey, Travis, wait a minute, okay?” Travis slumped back in the seat and looked at his dad with expectant eyes.

12 “Look . . . ” his dad said hesitantly. “Travis, I know those aren’t the shoes you had hoped for, but I saw the name of the guy on the shoes that you wanted and made a choice. The guy whose name is on those shoes,” he said, pointing down at Travis’s feet, “is someone I admire, unlike the guy whose shoes you wanted. Do you know how often Ryann has found himself in trouble?”

13 “No,” Travis said.

14 “Never. He’s never talked back to his coach or started a fight, and he’s rarely even drawn a technical foul. He’s always one of the top scorers in the league and he’s a team player. You could’ve acted like a baby when you didn’t get the shoes you wanted, Travis, but you were polite and made the best of it. You have honour, Son—like the guy whose name is on these shoes. I’m hoping that someday, your name will be on the coolest pair of shoes I’ll ever see.”

15 When Travis looked down at his feet, he saw the shoes differently. His dad had used his mind and heart to give his son a thoughtful gift.

16 Would the guys laugh when they saw his shoes? Yes, they probably would, but now he felt like he was wearing shoes that stood for something. He nodded and opened the door. “Thanks, Dad. I’ll see you soon.”

17 As Travis headed toward his teammates, he felt comfortable in his new basketball shoes.