Letter to my younger self: Basketball Life & Times
After years of sacrificing blood, sweat and tears, changing high schools every 1.5 years, adjusting to being the new kid again, working to make several basketball teams at new high schools – all for your love of basketball, one day you’ll finally realize your dream of playing college basketball.
Basketball will help to keep you out of trouble. You’ll prefer working hard on your game over hanging around house parties and drinking alcohol. This work ethic will prove to be very beneficial in your life and professional career. You’ll learn that one of the reasons you continue playing basketball after high school is because it’s one of the only constant things in your life and you’ll fight against strong odds to make sure you realize this dream.
You’ll become a pretty good basketball player and will also get good at being the new kid who flies under the radar.
You’re used to being the kid that nobody knows and it’ll become comfortable for you. The majority of your existence has been about trying to find new friends, trying to show people that you’re a good person and that you mean no harm. You’re used to being an outsider. Remember this during this time in your life: get to know yourself (who you really are), imagine the man you’d like to become in the future. This exercise will be helpful for you in life after basketball.
There will be days you’ll think to yourself, I don’t understand where I fit in? Do I fit in? Who am I? Who am I supposed to be? Keep playing young man and continue to learn about yourself.
What I want you to do is this: keep going to the basketball court. You’ll find a lot of clarity there. Keep working out. Be honest with yourself about who you really are deep inside your heart. You’ll learn that you’re a little different than your teammates. Just continue to allow your spirit to lead you through your journey.
Your hard work on the court will pay off! You’ll go on to play college basketball in Florida, the state you’ve always wanted to go to college.
The high and excitement of being a student-athlete won’t last long because you’ll sustain an injury that will cut your basketball career short.
It’s at this point that you’ll be faced with your first major life decision, and will ask yourself where do I go from here. Losing basketball will hurt as much as a death of a love one. You’ll even question your value as a human now that you no longer play ball. It’s during this time that you’ll find out how cold the world is and you’ll find out what you’re truly made of, so wear lots of layers.
Now is the time to recall what you’ve learned about yourself during your years of playing ball. The voice that told you that you’re a little different than your teammates will appear again. It will be much more noticeable this voice will help guide and renew your spirit. Like the sun appearing high and bright after a long period of gloomy weather. Pay attention and keep your eyes open! Listen to this voice and you’ll find a deeper purpose for your life.
The good news is that you’ll realize the world is much bigger than basketball!
Your time in Florida will expose you to opportunities outside of the world of basketball.
Transitioning from being a basketball player to the “real world” won’t be easy! You’ll hate it, you’ll fight it and as much as it pains me to say this – you’ll give in to the temptation to drink and do drugs. You’ll abuse drugs and alcohol because your willpower is low, you’re confused and you’re unsure of your purpose.
There will be plenty of lonely days and most of the time, you will be alone.
Listening to your inner voice will lead you to pursue your passion to create and build things that last. You’ll realize that what made you so different will free your spirit. Follow your spirit and some people will try to label you, package you and place you in a box. You don’t belong in a box, so don’t constrain yourself to those four walls.
That won’t make you the most popular person. Some people simply won’t understand. Is the cost worth it?
Only you can answer that.
Who are you supposed to be?
Every day for the rest of your life, you’ll have to choose.
Do you want to fit in, or do you want to embark on the lonely pursuit of greatness?
You will create things that help people live happier, more fulfilled lives. You will be great.
Most people will never really get to know the real you. But they’ll know your work.