Two Bo’s, One Town

May 16th, 2013

Charles Rowland is an irrepressible white kid who’s pretty much unaware that he’s not supposed to be able to do many of the things he does. Charles is a huge fan of Zach Randolph, an irrepressible black man who keeps doing things so many say he’s no longer capable of doing.

Both are Memphians. And because Charles hears his father, Michael, say all the time that his mother, Virginia, is related to everybody in Memphis, Charles has decided that Zach is his first cousin, and his first cousin rocks.

I can relate.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, May 17, 2013, and in The Memphis News, May 18-24, 2013

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Last week, my son reminded me to write a column about the Grizzlies. So I did. This week, a good friend commenting on that column reminded me of why I write them in the first place, and then wrote one for me.

A little about basketball. A little about Memphis. All about heart.


“Your column got me thinking about things; which as we both know, can be pretty dangerous. Not to mention, it makes my head hurt.

“For me, a 6’9”, 260lb black power forward named Zach with a wicked inside game who goes by the moniker of Z’Bo, and a 3’9”, 46lb white kid named Charles with cerebral palsy who goes by the nickname C’Bo lend proof that this city is about something special. Randolph arrived here after playing for three other teams, had a trunk full of baggage, and was not generally given much chance to do well, much less lead the Grizz into the rarified air of the NBA playoffs. Charles arrived here three months early, had a hospital full of problems, and was not generally given a chance to survive, much less thrive and watch his hero drive the Grizz deep into the NBA playoffs.

“Both have made the most of their second chance in the Bluff City.

“Both Bo’s are full of the grit and grind that has become a badge of honor here. Z’Bo’s grit is on display in our state of the art Grind House where he resuscitated a career.  For C’Bo, it was in our state of the art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he had to be resuscitated, several times. They both have had to put in thousands of hours of hard, grinding work to get to where they are. For Z’Bo, it’s been about learning to walk over the opposition. For C’Bo, it’s been about just learning to walk. And they’ve had to take that toughness on the road – for Z’Bo it’s walking into the lion’s den in Los Angeles or OKC, and for C’Bo it’s being wheeled into surgical dens at children’s hospitals in Memphis and St. Louis.

“So, when I look at Charles and Zach I see not only my son and a basketball player – I see two people who are examples of what it means to be a Memphian. A man and a not yet man who are examples of how you don’t give up, you take the hit and keep grinding. I’m proud of them both.

“So, when the naysayers of Memphis get revved up – whether in Los Angeles, Nashville, Germantown, or Midtown – we need to call “b---s--t” because their predictions of doom and gloom are not any more accurate than the predictions about the Bo’s were. Your job is to keep writing columns that not only call attention to the great things in this town, but also call “BS” when required. Keep up the good work.


I’m a Memphian, and Michael Rowland just reminded me of how good that can feel.


Katherine: Thank you, Dan and Michael. An incredible way to start my day. I could not be happier to call Memphis my home! C'bo and Z'bo a wonderful recognition of the people who make up this fine city! Not to mention the fine men who wrote and published this article.

jerry klein: Thanks for this Dan. I thought back to our two grandchildren, both of whom came through the NICU at Bapttist. I think of the past and look toward the future with people like Z-BO and C'BO and all the other good citizens that live in our town. I'm mighty proud to live in the great city of Memphis!

Sandra Ireland: A passionate fan of Z'Bo, C'Bo, Michael and you, Dan, this article brought tears, joy, and pride in being a Memphian!

Kathleen Terry-Sharp: I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this.

Angelina: I always tell my husband that the only thing wrong with Memphis is that its own citizens don't take pride in the city. If the people here don't feel proud of the city, why would anyone else? Hopefully the positive aspects/attitudes you write about and this amazing season for the Grizzlies will be the start of something positive for the city of Memphis.

Debbie Herr: What a splendid observation. Despite our earthly shortcomings, God gives us all special gifts. Debbie Herr

Janie Morris: Dan, Thanks so much for sharing Michael's note to you. The Roland's are all just the very best!!! I see a movie in the making here....

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