A Hero ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich

Today being Father's Day makes it fitting to talk a little about OG Duck Davis aka Mr. Donald Davis. Mr. Davis is someone who took me under his wing when I started my gig six years ago and as he likes to say, has become my "illegitimate father". He's not only taught me the ropes on the job, but since I've relocated to Trenton he's introduced me to key people, showed me where to go and more importantly, where not to go. For the past 30 years he's worked within the education sector in various capacities leading up to his current position as Director of Youth College at Mercer County Community College overseeing Upward Bound, Project Smile/Gear-Up and Educational Talent Search.

It's that 30 years of experience that makes conversations with him invaluable, but it's his nearly 58 years of life that makes my relationship with him immeasurable. If you've ever spent five minutes in his company, you know that Don is a rare breed. To the faint of heart, he's offensive, borderline rude, but those of us who know and love him understand that's just the way East Trenton grew him. That's why when the MF's stop and he shares some wisdom with you or tells you how he sees things from his prospective, you have no choice but to take heed. There have been times when we're in the bar and between shots; he gets serious to talk about health, the direction of my career and even relationships. Even more endearing are the days he just shows up at my place or calls to make sure that I'm not spending a holiday alone or that I'm eating Sunday dinner.

So when he was honored with the 4th Annual Legacy of Fatherhood Award at the Platinum Dads Awards Celebration yesterday, it was great to see that all of his hard work, dedication to his family, to the students that come through his programs and those he's touched through his community outreach recognized and awarded. It was such a change to see the usually boisterous man humbled and almost nervous, yet beaming with pride, because he was the man of the hour yesterday. His nervous energy was apparent as he couldn't sit still, walked around the banquet hall, looked around, and then pulled out what appeared to be a seven-page speech. He said he had to say, he said that nearly 58 years of life, the experience of his journey couldn't be summed up in a quick "thank you" speech and he planned on telling his story on that morning.

We ribbed him about the length of the speech, but it was at that point I realized that I've been fortunate enough to hear that speech over the last six years in various forms. I've heard that speech during conversations in the office, in the car on the way to basketball games, on a bar stool, in my living room and his, plus from the countless friends and former students that always have a Donald "Duck" Davis story to tell. He's become one of my closest friends, but I still refer to him as Mr. Davis quite often out of respect, because he is so much more to me. He is a friend, a valued mentor, and an illegitimate father.

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