Your Name Is All You Have, So Protect

In my What Do Dads Say – SAID Design blog, I shared that my inspiration for the SAID design on the landing page came from my curiosity about what other men remembered their fathers saying to them from their childhood. Growing up virtually fatherless since my abandonment at 3 years old, I only have limited memories of him that occurred during foster care when we’d reconnect during rare encounters. If there is something fond my father left me with, it’s the sound of his voice calling “mijo” that’s very much alive in my memory. Now, as a father, if there’s anything I hope to leave my son with it’s that our name is all we have. So protect.

“Your Name Is All You Have, So Protect It” 

As I watched my son approach the dugout where I stood awaiting his arrival, I detected a sense of real pride emanating from him.

During the prior practice, the team received their jerseys and I could only catch a glimpse of PJ’s uniform before he left practice. What I did notice was our name on the back of his Hooks team uniform.

I stayed behind to talk to the other dad coaches about how caught off guard I was by the sentimental nature of the moment because until then I had never understood the significance of seeing my name — my father’s name — imprinted on the back of a uniform.

I grew up poor and in foster care. Sports wasn’t an option for me. Growing up in South Central L.A., I don’t know that the goal of any “sports program” in the hood was to spend money to print a name on the back of a uniform as it was to keep names from being printed on the front of an obituary.

So many thoughts and emotions consumed me as I drove home after the jerseys were distributed.

“Your name is all you have, so protect it,” echoed in my mind as the beautiful melody of Ludovico Einaudi’s contemplative music played in my car.

Against All Odds

I thought about how I grew up ashamed of my name. Along with my Latino heritage, my last name was another reminder that I didn’t fit in because being raised by a Black family meant I always stood out.

I was much older when I began to embrace all that I am. How could I not when I defied all odds?

Look up the percentage of foster kids who make it to university compared to jail.

Look up how many foster kids make it from jail to university.

Look up how many foster kids get shot, incarcerated, and make it to university.

Is there a statistic that captures those foster kids who get shot, go to jail, get released before being accepted into UCLA as an undergraduate, and graduate with honors before getting accepted into UCLA once again for graduate school?

I am that statistic whatever it may be.

Giving Flowers

On that drive home, I thought about how I wondered what it was all for when I continued struggling after earning both degrees. Then I remembered a fleeting conversation with my former Crenshaw High School teacher, Mr. Wolf, who answered the question for me.

“You can’t see it now, but you will when you have a child,” explained Mr. Wolf.

“All that you have accomplished means that your child will begin where you left off. You were the one abandoned. You were the one who lived in foster care. You were the one who overcame all that bullshit to be exactly where you are now. And when you have a child, your child will begin life at a level higher than where you began.”

Mr. Wolf was absolutely right because I see myself, my beautiful struggle, in the life of my son.

“Your name is all you have, so protect it.”

Then there was the thought of my surrogate Aunt, Simone, who shared with me that I was meant for greatness when we first met when I was 16.


That was such an odd thing for me to hear at that time. Throughout every travail I endured since we met over 25 years ago, her words have remained emblazoned on my soul. When I was fighting for my life as a 19-year-old lost soul, I held on to her words. I held on to her belief in me despite the many collect calls I would make from jail over the one-year period. When she mailed me SAT Study Guides in jail, I studied with the tenacity to bring her belief in me to reality.


Because that is what greatness required.

Words Are Powerful Beyond Belief

Today, Aunt ‘Mone maintains that my greatness is evident through my son.

To her, I maintain the invisible thread between my greatness and its embodiment in PJ began when she told me I was meant for greatness. I have never forgotten those words. And PJ will always remember her words too.

All that I’ve accomplished, all that I’ve become, allowed me to restore my father’s name. To think I was once told that my “name has a legacy of jail” when I shared my thought about naming my son after me because of the restoration project I had become.

Now, my name is all that will live on long after I’m gone. Flores.

My name, in its entirety, is literally all that I have from my father. David Flores.

So, when my son knelt down beside me as I held the cable line so the foul line could be painted, I noticed the beauty of the “Flores” name on his uniform and baseball cap.

And, I couldn’t help but think about how I was that flower who grew from concrete and how he’s now the flower that grows from me. Like that, I knew he was beginning to understand that our “name was all he had” and it was in great hands with him.

(Click the links in bold to discover my inspirations for writing this blog)

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