This is for the athletes or underdogs who needs a motivation. First and foremost, you must have something to push you. It must be strong enough to get you out of your bed, then push you to outwork your opponents and then push you to do this consistently. I have always had to change motivations because some aren’t strong enough or what I needed for me to move forward. In the particular blog, Ill explain two instances where I needed some motivation and was able to find it by changing some.
Have we seen Harry Potter? If not, the reference I make has to do with a young wizard facing a fear and him using a spell that is only as strong or powerful as the memory he may use. In the movie, Harry uses a “Patronus” charm to defeat the Dementors (Grim Reaper like creatures). He once destroyed a whole pack of them because the strength of his memory was fueling his spell. Im positive this same tactic has worked for me. My final year of high school and my freshmen going into my sophomore year at Louisville, I had to overcome obstacles and find something push me through. Sometimes it can be the little things that fuel us; wanting to be well known, competitive, respected, your family or even reaching the next level all are acceptable. But like we all know, we athletes go through mood swings and sometimes your current mood or attitude may not always dictate or be on the same page with your long term goals.
In high school, I would go through days wanting to be the best scorer possible or have the best game possible. What motivated me was my dad buying me a video game, or my mom making my favorite dinner. I always had a different motivation when it came to do good. After my junior year of high school, I realized I needed a consistent motivation. Something I can always count on. I grew out of a new video game. I grew out of my mom making me my favorite food. I needed to go to college for FREE! My senior year, my motivation was solely focused on a college scholarship. That year, I studied the kind of athletes that went to these high major schools and wanted to be like them. In Decemeber 2008, I was a marginal athlete. I was skinny and fast but couldn’t leap as well as the other boys that were scholarship worthy athletes. My trainer Steve and I worked to get to that point because I asked him to make my vertical leap something to talk about. By April 2009, I was windmilling and doing trick dunks 43 inches in the air. Along with my insane speed, scoring and now super athletic ability, ruled the summer. I was still an underdog because I didn’t get invited to the top camps but I dominated the camps right under them. I never went to Pangos All American camp, or a NBA Top 100 camp but I got MVP of the Hoop Group camp that summer. One of my best friends Jamel Fuentes actually insisted I try to dunk everything because college scouts and rankers seem to like kids who were only athletic. I guess it worked. I focused in on everything I needed to do and found motivation for me to bring it everyday in order for me to even get a look. Some guys are talented and lucky enough that they may not need a motivation; this piece isn’t for them. It is for the people that think they lost all hope, or when its dark there may never be any light. I committed to Louisville that Fall of 2009 5’11 142lbs with a 43 inch vert.
In college, ending my freshman year I was in turmoil. I questioned my skill, talent and my existence as a basketball player. I started thinking about what else I can do in the world and what level I could play basketball at and succeed. My dad believed I could play at Louisville but I didn’t. My mom wanted me to be happy but I wasn’t. Throughout all I went through, the only thing I realized that the only one that can satisfy me is ME! I found motivation somewhere in myself to not be something I didn’t want to be. My entire hood in Brooklyn cheers me on everyday and wants the best for me, I couldn’t come back to them broken up because that is not what they expected from me. There were so many doubters growing up, me failing would fall right into their hands. I seen a bunch of old teammates transferring, or not playing, and I felt like this was my time to rise. One more colossal push and I would reach euphoria. I promised not to return home unless I “put on for my city”, a context used to describe me not going home unless I make them proud. That year, I was a Big East Champion and reached the Final Four4 while leading the team in scoring. I also broke a Louisville steal record. I couldn’t have been any happier but the motivation behind me was so strong, I had enough left over to challenge myself to do more the next year. Besides trying to be a NBA player, I wanted to be more efficient from the 3pt line, FG, and log more minutes. I want to get stronger, smarter and more savy. Film with Peyton and scouting report talks with Gorgui helped. My motivation was propelling my goals and by the end of that year I was an All American, had the best record in the Big East, Big East Champion, National Champion, broke the NCAA steal record and number 2 all time for most points in one NCAA tournament run. Great year. Now after returning, the motivation to continue winning propelled me even further. Losing Chane, Peyton, Kevin and Gorgui hurt so I wanted to help Terry Rozier and Chris Jones get acclimated along with my new bigmen Trez and Mango. Becoming a teacher and mentor like Peyton and Gorgui were to me were apart of the goals I had as well. With that selfless motivation, it actually raised every statistical category I had at Louisville and we put together a great season. We won our conference regular season and the conference championship along with a Sweet16.
Through these ups and downs, what I learned was how strong my motivation was to carry me. I know kids hear it all the time but the game really is mental. I go through similar changes and challenges now and I try to face them the best way I can. Writing is helping me and this is my new motivation. If I can overcome what Im going through now while helping others, that would be a dream come true. I want for others to experience all the joys I had as an athlete but also understand the obstacles of an underdog, athlete or a person must overcome. Never ask “why me”, because the answer is “life isn’t fair”. Once I came to realize how unfair certain things were and understood that that’s the way it was going to be, I never complained ever again. I just shake my head and handle business. Some people are just lucky and gifted; but who’s to say an underdog isn’t lucky or gifted? At least I can solve my problems when I come across one. Most of them overhyped guys or silver spoon guys hit a wall and cannot recover. My motivation aka my Patronum has helped me achieved every goal and defeat every so called evil. So what will yours be?