Blackbird. Gratitude. Struggles. Life. Love. Experience. Adrenaline. Finding. What’s your silence?
My heart pounded. My palms were sweaty.
This was the moment.
This was where I found my drive to pursue what I loved. This is what propelled me to stay after, to outwork the man standing across from me, to burn ‘till it hurt and then go further, to sacrifice until I succeeded.
I was 9 years old.
People filtered in steadily through the timeout to see the commotion and feel the adrenaline. The upper deck of the indoor track was full. The four bleachers hid quietly under the blobs of people.
My coach’s voice gained octaves every passing second. This win would move my team to the championship game. There were 8 seconds remaining, and my team was down 2 points with the ball.
I could feel the anticipation from the crowd. I could feel each beat of my heart. I was saturated in the moment as if time had slammed into slow motion … and Drew was slowly being transformed out of his quiet, shy shell.
My coach looks intently at me and then draws up a play for another player to receive the ball. Sigh.
This was not what I stayed up last night dreaming about. My mind told me it would be fine, yet my instincts strangled me in disappointment that it wasn’t me as the go-to guy at the end of the game.
Suddenly, the whistle blows and my coach calls his last timeout. My team was unable to throw the basketball in bounds.
Here was my chance. This time coach had the ball coming to me.
I crossover as I hit half court and drive for a layup as the time expires. The crowd is in frenzy. The kid finding his passion was standing at the free throw line to complete his 3-point play. SWISH.
We won the game. I stood motionless at the free throw line as the crowd of pumped-up parents storm the court to great their sons. My body felt paralyzed as chills hit my spine and reality sank in. My eyes scan the crowd nervously in search of fulfillment.
My eyes lock. The gym grows completely SILENT as I hear nothing and see nothing but my mom and sisters standing next to a recording video camera beaming at me with love.
From this moment on, I pursued a passion that everyone told me would never happen. A dream that everyone told me was not in the realm of reality – at least not for a kid like me.
I have witnessed the fact that a simple game changed the trajectory of my life, a simple game taught me immeasurable life lessons, a simple game sent chills up my spine on numerous occasions, yet also left me crying my heart out. I love this game. Yet … what started at 9 years old does not define me. It is solely an avenue God has blessed me with and used as a platform to bring glory to Him. I am humbled and full of gratitude.
I’m sitting here now, knees crammed into the back of the chair in front of me on a loaded airplane, flying back to the United States after finishing my first professional basketball season.
What a winding story it has been.
Sometimes, our life is thrown into a blender. Every passing second is filled to the brim in an endless tornado of events. And that was my life for the past several years, up to this year… the year where I lived alone in a foreign country.
The days no longer flew past, and the hours I was by myself stacked up like a game of Jenga. I was the blackbird singing my own song for only my ears to hear. Lots of time to think.
I sit and sort through thoughts and memories, trying to decompress before I reach the states.
In Japan, I was daily learning new things about life and myself. I begin to really understand who I am when no one is watching, when no one is texting, when no one is talking… for months.
Who we are is not defined by what we have, by what we have accomplished, or by what our bank account reads. We are valuable. God uses every opportunity to mold us into His image, making us into the person He wants us to be. So the Creator is molding me daily, why should I live my life to please others by the “stuff” I have or accomplish.
Some of us, me included, had been so busy that we forgot to live in the moment. We see ourselves through a filter of what other’s say and not what God says. We take the short view (the temporal) rather than the long view (the eternal). We are too wrapped up with ourselves and trying to better ourselves that we miss out on living in the moments we have been blessed with. We must grasp what life is really about, or, otherwise, we are just meandering down foggy roads with no purpose, no passion, and no pleasure.
At 9 years old, I understood what it meant to feel a moment. What it meant to dream BIG. What it meant to take a risk of failure.
But as we grow older, we tend to close our minds. Stop our dreaming. Thinking that how life is going is how it is going to be – its reality. But the reality is, when the God who made you is molding you, no DREAM is ever too big when it is His plan!
Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to change the way you accept life.
This season in Japan has officially wrapped up as we lost to the second ranked team in the playoffs last week. Yet, the memories and knowledge I gained will hopefully stick with me forever as applied wisdom.
In the quietness of a moment, a lot can be heard if you take time to listen.
Thank you for joining me on my journey so far. My basketball season is officially over after an up and down year, but I am looking forward to working hard this summer to get ready for next season. I finished my rookie season averaging around 10 ppg and 4 rebounds in 20 mpg. Only God knows the next step for me. I will periodically keep you updated throughout the summer on life outside Drew’s holster. Life is always an adventure.