As a young man being raised on Long Island, NY, I was fortunate to grow up in a family of six kids, me being the second to youngest. I say “fortunate,” because with a big family, you really don’t have to rely so much on outside friendships to take away the boredom kids often experience. It was great—we had our own built in baseball team, football team, kickball squad, you name it…. We would even stage plays together and my parents would have us dress up; we each played a stringed instrument and we would put on mini concerts for the family (completely out of sync and disjointed, but everyone loved it).
Those were some good times: it was everyone working together and being happy. Even though we didn’t grow up with much from a monetary standpoint, we all worked hard together as a unit and did the best with what we had. Not having money never really fazed us; we always did what we had to do and moved on, always knowing that things would be fine as long as we stuck together and built one another up.
But as time would have it, my older siblings started getting older and taking on other interests, and suddenly playing childish games or sports or putting on concerts for the folks just wasn’t as fun as when we were younger. As the second to youngest, I found myself in that kind of awkward setting: I wasn’t really the middle child, but I also wasn’t the youngest, so at times I was unsure as to where I fit in.
It got lonely at times, but that never really got me down; I was a pretty scrappy kid and always figured out something to do, whether it was reading, doing something around the house, or organizing my clothing or my bedroom so everything was neat and tidy (I know, weird. Don’t judge me).
I grew up in a religious household, so we always had a lot going on and we had pretty busy schedules, so I never really had much down time. But growing up in a family with six kids, I’m sure you can imagine my parents had their hands full—especially my dad, he was the primary “breadwinner.” With a hefty commute into the city and working long hours, quite frankly he just wasn’t around much. It did have somewhat of an impact growing up, but my mother and grandparents filled in the gaps to ensure that we never lacked anything, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
What really had a tremendous impact on my development from adolescence to becoming a man were the strong male role models I had growing up.
However, what really had a tremendous impact on my development from adolescence to becoming a man were the strong male role models I had growing up. These were young men and older men, from our religious organization, that took an interest in me as a youth. They were genuinely concerned with my well-being and served as mentors and close companions that would form relationships that were strong like the bond of a brotherhood.
If it weren’t for these key figures, I don’t know where I would be today.
They played a pivotal role that helped mold me into the man I am. By their example, they taught and trained me to have the same passion and desire to mentor others, which I have happily and successfully done for decades—which has also served as being the key motivating factor to my founding Modern Gladiator.
Some of them have passed away now, others have moved on with their lives and have families of their own, but in quiet and reflective moments, I think of them fondly. I thank them for having been there, for having taken an interest, for caring and not just standing by idly but reaching out to a young boy and later young man and making a difference. They, along with their wisdom, love, concern, and desire to help a “brother,” had an enormous impact on my life, one that I will cherish and carry with me all the length of my days.
They taught and trained me to have the same passion and desire to mentor others.
Being a mentor or helping young men through the development stages of life is so important today. We live in a world where many families are broken or fragmented. Boys and girls are being raised “fatherless.” There is a huge opportunity out there for men to take the lead and not stand by idly. The difference that you can make in the life of a young man today can mean the difference between life and death.
Modern Gladiator is taking on the role of developing mentorship programs through our ever-growing readership base. We are going to be actively taking part in the mentoring of men of all ages in every aspects of life—from personal development, family life, business coaching, lifestyle changes, and community engagement.