Looking back, the most important decision of my life was not going out the night after my high school graduation despite two close friends attempting to convince me otherwise. For reasons all too real, refraining from speaking on the subject is best. Yet, it remains a constant reminder of how quickly life can completely alter itself. Unfortunately for Tony Farmer, however, he was forced to learn the hard way.
Hark back to your senior year of high school and imagine being 6’7″ and a top 100 prospect courted by the likes of Michigan State, Xavier, Dayton, Ohio State and more. Now, within the span of a year, imagine standing in a orange jumpsuit as an Ohio judge explains the next three years of your life will be served behind bars after being found guilty of kidnapping, felonious assault and intimidating a victim.
That’s Farmer life now. The story goes the former hoops prodigy at Garfield Heights High School was caught on camera attacking his now ex-girlfriend Andrea Lane in the lobby and parking lot of her apartment complex. The reason being? She broke up with him. Coaches, his parents and even Lane herself attempted to convince the judge to be lenient on Farmer who, in his own words, was “really not a bad kid.”
The video below is a somber one; a scene playing itself out everyday in America in essentially the same movie with different characters. Being 18, it’s difficult to watch Farmer’s life come to a screeching halt and even more difficult to hear his family react in expected grief. Yet, in the totality of the situation, no one is to truly blame except Farmer who was filmed kicking Lane in the head as she attempted to hide in a corner. The scene in the courtroom reminded me of a similar moment in time which featured Tupac. After being sentenced for his attack on Allen Hughes, Pac confessed while leaving court, “To my homeboys, a fight is a fight. Battery is battery. A two and a half minute problem just cost me 15 days in jail.”
And for Farmer, a situation which could have easily been avoided will likely afford him the next 36 months of his life being told when to eat, sleep and shower. Pending some unexpected reversal from Judge Pamela Baker, the former highly touted recruit will not see his story play out in the manner of, say, Allen Iverson’s. John Thompson isn’t walking through those prison doors with any sort of “get-outta-jail” scholarship. Ideally, he’ll exit prison after serving his time maybe continue his basketball dreams – he’ll still be 21 – in some capacity while speaking out against domestic violence; an issue which has always been near the mountaintop of societal ills in America.
Regardless, right is right. Wrong is wrong. And the difference between the two often boils down to a matter of seconds with the decision often carrying the weight of dictating the course of a person’s life forever. Just ask Tony Farmer. He’s living proof.