.. Staying positive and learning from struggle and loss, whether on or off the basketball court, is one of the tenents of Brampton A’s head coach and general manager David Magley’s philosophy on life.
Whether it was losing his mother at a young age or his older brother late last year, or even something like a basketball game, Magley has always taken the lessons of pain, suffering and loss, and turned them into something to build up – instead of tear down – ones life.
..So it wasn’t a surprise that Magley and the A’s basketball organization chose to spotlight another individual who, through the organization he created, tries to do the same thing with the youth of his community of Brampton, Ontario, and Peel Region.
Orlando Bowen, 39, is dedicating his life to helping change the course of the lives of others for the better through the One Voice One Team Youth Leadership organization he created.
..Bowen and other members of the One Voice One Team organization were guests of the Brampton A’s Friday night and enjoyed courtside centre seats to watch the home squad beat the Halifax Rainmen in National Basketball League of Canada action.
..“One Voice One Team came about through some of our experiences of seeing young people falling through the cracks,” said Bowen after the game. “Young people who didn’t see themselves progressing, didn’t see a reason to make positive decisions because in their minds they knew that doing something significant wasn’t in the realm of possibilities. Therefore, they made decisions that aligned with that thinking. So they were saying ‘You know, I’m not going to amount to anything – that’s what folks are telling me – so why try?’.
..“But for us, we would see young people with so much potential, we had to do something. If we could help young people understand how amazing they are and help them see it for themselves, then so much more is possible.”
..Bowen’s story and what he has become and what he does in his community would be a good one on its own. But who Bowen is today and what he does to help young people, is a direct result of what happened to him on one day in March of 2004.
..Months before starting a second season as linebacker with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and his fifth year of professional football in the Canadian Football League, Bowen was at a Mississauga nightclub parking lot when he was approached by two plainclothes Peel region police officers, physically assaulted, had drugs planted on him, and was arrested.
..Bowen, who recently settled his $14million lawsuit out of court, spent the better part of the last ten years in court defending himself and trying to clear his name and reputation.
..He chose not to let one day in his life define who he is as a son, husband, father, or as a mentor.
..So when Bowen talks the talk, people know he has walked the walk.
..“One of the things we talk about is, whatever you’re going to share with anyone, we have to be prepared to model that behavior,” said Bowen. “So we’re going into schools telling young people they’ve got to stand up and do the right thing even when it’s hard to do that. When they see something that’s not right they have to do something about it – even if it means standing by themselves. So, when I was assaulted and went through the trials and all those things in my life, I had to get through to help other people get through challenges and obstacles they may feel are insurmountable.”
..Bowen is so positive his positive outlook on life can help change others, he even wrote a letter of forgiveness to the two officers who assaulted, planted drugs, and arrested him 10 years ago, leaving him with physical scars that destroyed his professional football career and emotional scars that could have destroyed his life.
..“I just released the letter this year but I wrote the letter about seven years ago. I didn’t really talk about it until now because I was in the midst of all that was going on. I felt like, if I had an opportunity to talk to these two gentlemen and just tell them how I felt, this is what I would say, and that’s what I wrote. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say in court and I didn’t want to wage a war of words through the media.”
..Bowen’s letter and response to his personal tribulations was part of his recovery that turned his life around for the better, he says.
..“If you have something that happens to you that is painful, that challenges you, that is traumatic – you have a choice. You have a choice how you choose to respond to that. You could be angry and you could be bitter – and there’s a time and a place for that – but where you focus your energy, anger and bitterness isn’t going to solve anything or move you forward. It could actually poison you. People get sick from harboring things that aren’t positive.”
..“If you have a chance to do something that really speaks positivity into that person or that situation, the possibilities then become limitless.”
Would anyone want to be brutally beaten, accused of wrongdoing, and spend years in court defending themselves? Of course not. But Bowen figures that because it happened to him, there was something positive that would come out of it.
..“If you look at the level of irony in my story in terms of I was a spokesperson for the police services, I was an ambassador, I was training police in racial sensitivity and going into schools with them (to address students), to me it really didn’t make sense that I would be in the position I was in, other than there was a bigger purpose – there had to be a reason.”
..“I’m not here to judge people on what was going through their lives at the time,” said Bowen. “I’m just here to contribute and to pour into people with all that I have. That’s why I’m here.
The challenge I went through has been an opportunity and a blessing.”