One of the best parts about not only being a journalist, but covering sports in today’s world, is the chance to meet some of the most interesting people on a daily basis.
Tyrone Ellis, former Northern Arizona Suns head coach and current Phoenix Suns assistant, certainly qualifies as one of those people.
But not for why you’d think.
Ellis isn’t quirky, or overly brazen. He doesn’t have some over-the-top personality that most people try to avoid, or walk around with a cocky attitude thinking he’s better than everyone else and his crap don’t stink.
For someone in his position, that’s rare. And trust me, I’ve met plenty of professional coaches in my career and many possess that “I’m more important than you” attitude.
For a lack of a better description, Ellis is a normal father who just happens to have a pretty cool job and shows more passion in one day than most people in today’s workforce show in a lifetime.
For me, Ellis is a man I look up to. A family man who takes care of his wife and kids, is part of his community and is an example for all of us fathers out there.
And that goes for Ellis’ extended family, too, the young men who play the game of basketball for him while pursuing their own dreams.
He’s not flashy about it, either. And frankly, if he ever reads this, he’d probably be embarrassed and start tearing up. Ellis said Tuesday that the phone call he received from Phoenix Suns interim head coach Jay Triano and his subsequent call up to the NBA was a “surreal moment.”
He said that in the past, when he would go to Phoenix to help the big club out, he’d find a place to put his stuff down and put together a “makeshift desk” to work at.
During coaches meetings, he’d sit in the back of the room and just listen, hoping to soak up every bit of information he could.
On Monday in Phoenix, Ellis sat at his own desk, in his own office with a nameplate that displayed HIS name. He sat at the table during a coaches meeting and voiced his welcome opinion.
He made it.
Ellis told me before Monday night’s game against Sacramento that walking out onto the court at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix was another “surreal moment,” something he’ll never forget.
A big reason why I think Ellis was called up to the Phoenix Suns this week is not just because of his basketball knowledge, but more because he’s a man of integrity, of character and possesses a legendary work ethic few can match.
As a father myself, Ellis’ experience has become a teachable moment, not only for myself, but for my own kids.
Every day I go to work is another day I show my own children how important work ethic is. Every day is a chance to show commitment to my craft, so when the time comes, they too will work hard to pursue their own dreams and feel just as blessed when they become a reality.
Ellis may be just a basketball coach, and I may just be a sports writer, but it’s how we do our jobs that define us. I only hope to be as good a father, a community member and a person as he is.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier, the Prescott Valley Tribune and the Chino Valley Review. Follow him on Twitter at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.