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‘World kid’ attributes music, athletic talents to military upbringing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – There are times when being a military kid is difficult. There is no place to really call home, no friends you’ve grown up with since kindergarten, and no sports team or club that has invested in you through childhood. However, in between frequent moves, changing friends and new adjustments lies something incredibly special: the unique privilege and responsibility of being a “world kid.”

High school junior Aaron Porcil knows this better than anyone. His father, Maj. Frank Porcil, 60th Surgical Operations Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, has 23 years of active-duty service and 30 years of total service under his belt – meaning Aaron and two older siblings have grown up in the military lifestyle.

 “Aaron pretty much grew up overseas,” said Porcil. “This is his first real stateside base that he can probably remember.”

Turkey, Italy and Japan were all home to Aaron and his siblings before moving to Travis in 2012, where his father now serves as the operating room flight commander at David Grant USAF Medical Center. Rather than focus on the challenges of an ever-changing childhood, Aaron celebrates his upbringing by using it to fuel his two passions: music and basketball.    

His passion for music started in Italy, when the Porcil family began singing together in the car on weekend road trips.

“We used to play the singing game in the car when we went on a road trip, and we would all take turns singing a song,” Aaron remembers. “The first time my parents ever actually heard me sing was when I was about 10 years old. They complimented me and said I had a nice voice, so I just kept singing.”

That small encouragement was all he needed to begin pursuing a career as a professional singer and songwriter. He began learning how to play the piano and guitar and performed in his first talent show in fifth grade, singing “Baby” by Justin Bieber – an artist who still inspires his music today, along with Chris Brown and Usher.

“When we moved here (to Travis), that’s when I got into music more,” said Aaron. “I started writing music about experiences my older sister and brother had during high school – typical love stories – and then I asked my dad if we could start recording music.”

On July 7, Aaron’s dream will become reality. His first pop/R&B album, appropriately titled “Dream,” will be released in stores, iTunes and Spotify under the record label World Kid Music. It’s an album he hopes will inspire people, as well as tell the story of his unique upbringing.

“Moving around a lot has made me feel like I’m a diverse kid, that’s why World Kid Music is the name of our label,” he said. “I feel like a kid of the world, and I want to share my experiences with everybody around the world. My music fits everybody.”

In addition to writing and recording music and going to school, Aaron is hard at work on his other dream: basketball. Like music, it’s a dream that was cultivated by his military upbringing.

“I’ve grown up playing on different teams,” he said. “In Japan I played for the youth center, and then in Italy I played for an Italian team.”

Basketball caught Aaron’s attention at the age of 5, when he began watching Kobe Bryant. Soon after, he asked his father if he could learn to play.

“He didn’t have a (basketball) hoop in the yard, but he had a basketball,” said Porcil. “He used to just bounce and bounce that ball for hours, and that’s when I saw he actually had a passion for basketball.”

Not only did Aaron grow up playing with international teammates, but many of his practice hours were spent in base gyms practicing with older, more experienced players.

“When he was a lot younger, the older guys would still let him play with them,” said Porcil. “They never said, ‘Hey, you’re too young, don’t play.’ At Aviano (Air Base, Italy) they would let him play, and coming here (to Travis) he would play with the bigger kids and that allowed him to get better.”

“When I was younger, everyone was stronger, faster (and) bigger, and I had to learn how to adapt to playing with guys that big,” said Aaron. “Once you play kids your age, it becomes a lot easier. A lot of the players on the base team have always taken me under their wing and shown me how to do new things and how to use my body well and be stronger on the court. That’s really helped me improve and grow in the game.”

Aaron played on his first traveling team in Solano County when the family moved to Travis, and recently helped lead the team at Vanden High School in Fairfield, California, to the semi-final game for the state championship as the team’s only starting junior. This year, as a senior, he plans for his team to go all the way.

“I’m always in the gym every week, at least six to seven days a week, and I really want to play college basketball,” said Aaron. “I just really have a love for basketball.”

He owes much of his passion and skill for both music and basketball to the world view he was able to develop growing up, he said.

“Growing up as a military kid, you’re exposed to a lot,” he said. “That’s really allowed me to have an open mind to understanding people. I’ve been able to absorb and take in what people are saying and understand.”

Aaron also has multi-national ethnicity, with his mother from the Philippines and his father from the Virgin Islands. Combined with his military experiences, he wants his music to appeal to all types of people.

“The fact that (Aaron and his siblings) grew up overseas (means) they have an open mind (and) they’re open to all types of music, all types of people, all types of cultures, languages (and) foods… Because of that, they have a unique outlook on life,” said Porcil. “When you hear his music, you hear a lot of experiences that are something you think an older person would have, but because he was exposed to so much at a young age, I think he has that unique outlook that makes him an older soul.”

Aaron hopes to have all these experiences show through in his debut album and, hopefully, a career in basketball. Wherever his dreams take him, he will always pay it back to being a world kid.