After facing an unfathomable tragedy in the 2015 racially-motivated shooting death of his mother, former minor league baseball player Chris Singleton overcame his own adversity by sharing his struggle with others.
On Monday, the 24-year-old Singleton shared his story during a Black History Month event held at Brescia University, where he implored a crowd of college students to use their hardships to motivate themselves and the world around them.
A Chicago Cubs minor league player from 2017-18, Singleton has become a nationally renowned speaker whose message of forgiveness and strength was inspired by the untimely loss of his mother, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, in the June 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church tragedy.
Singleton, who speaks at a wide variety of venues across the country, told the audience Monday that he often hears the same question from audiences:
How do you talk about unity when your mother was killed because she was Black?
“I think everyone has the same ‘why.’ Everyone wants to make money and provide for their families. Everyone wants to make the world a better place,” Singleton said. “I don’t really believe in answering, ‘why.’ I think everyone has a different struggle moment. But I believe that moment is what’s going to push you forward in life.”
For Singleton, his struggle moment came when his mother was named one of the nine people killed during the shooting. Only 18 years old at the time, it was up to Singleton to share the news with his two younger siblings.
“When it gets hard for us in life, we think back on that,” Singleton said. “We say, ‘I don’t ever want to feel like this again.’ With my mom, she was taken away, and I never want to feel like that again. So I’ve dedicated my life to speaking about overcoming adversity.”
It was a difficult time for Singleton, who was in the midst of his collegiate baseball career. He began to rely heavily on his best friends — the people he could trust — to help him get through the emotions. One of those friends shared with Singleton a story referred to as “The History of a Golf Ball” that would ultimately change his entire perspective on overcoming adversity.
As the story goes, the first golf ball ever used was made of molasses. It was very light and smooth all the way around, so it would take off whichever way the wind was blowing when someone hit it.
So, they made the golf ball heavier. When hit, it went further. It wasn’t until the golf ball became “beat up and scratched” that it could cut through the wind, Singleton said.
“When you go through something in life, I look at it as a scratch in my golf ball,” he said. “I know I’ve faced tragedy before. I know it was tough. But now I know I can get through things in my life.”
Singleton would face other struggles in life as time went on. His father was an alcoholic and, like Singleton’s mother, passed away before the age of 50. Singleton himself was responsible for deciding to take his father off life support.
“We didn’t choose any of these things,” he said. “I think of (those adversities) as the 10% (of what happens to you), and the 90% is how we respond to it. After my mom was killed, I started thinking of everything that happened as my 10%. I think a lot of us get caught up in our 10%. But when you stop focusing on that, it’ll change your life.”
Instead of wallowing in the stress that came with his mother’s bills after her death, Singleton focused on responding to the situation with intent and competence. He went on to learn so much about finance and investing, he now owns six real estate properties.
And when his father died from alcoholism, Singleton vowed to never become an alcoholic himself.
“With my 90%, I promised my [family] I would never become an alcoholic like my dad was. And it’s simple — I won’t,” he said.
With the country in a fragile state due to a number of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice, Singleton encouraged those at Brescia to be motivated instead of discouraged by those hardships.
“My ultimate mission is to put an end to racism. And I know that sounds crazy, but after losing my mom, that’s something I want to do,” he said. “So I’m asking people to change. Sometimes, you have to ask people to love people.”