Basketball has been my motivation and passion ever since I was young. It taught me certain life lessons and skills that only sports can. It kept me focused and supported me mentally and physically my whole life. When I felt like I had no one to turn to, basketball got me through it all. It improved my confidence. It made me more assertive but respectful. It showed me the value of hard work and kept me safe from being on the street and stepping out of line. I laser-focused on my love for the game and became better and better over time. It helped eliminate my fear of rejection and brought me into a community where I’ve met many great people, including players and coaches. It’s been my safe space since I was a little kid. It changed who I am today and impacted my life in so many ways.
Some players have also influenced me and helped me through my problems, and assisted me with my progress and development. Sometimes I use their stories as motivation. Sometimes it’s their mentality or them going through similar things as me. That shows me there’s always hope and that I can do anything I set my mind to. My biggest influence has been Kobe Bryant. He tragically passed away on January 26 of 2020. His infamous “Mamba Mentality” has helped me to keep working hard and push through all my fears and problems to do what I love. Kobe was someone who wouldn’t back down to anyone and stuck to what he believed in no matter what everyone around him was doing. That’s one of the many things that made him great.
My second biggest inspirations have been Jimmy Butler and Kevin Durant. Jimmy Butler showed me the value of hard work no matter your situation. He was homeless and lived with his best friend after his mom kicked him out of the house. He still became an NBA superstar, which taught me to push through all adversity and just keep going. Kevin Durant was always my favorite player growing up. His story showed me maturity and to have confidence in everything I do. Kevin once said that before he was a 5-star recruit, he was really talented and outworked his high school peers. His problem was a lack of confidence, but once the confidence kicked in, that’s when he became really good.
What does basketball mean to me? That’s an easy but intricate answer. It’s affected my life for the better in so many ways. It has taught me so many life lessons, like being a leader and influencing the situation around me. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from basketball is focus and dedication no matter what happens around me. It’s taught me time management skills as well. It’s increased my focus on school and kept my grades up. It taught me to navigate through hostile situations in mostly safe spaces. It’s encouraged me to overcome many physical and mental challenges. It taught me to believe in myself and value my own hard work. It’s something that is all-inclusive to everyone. The players and coaches I’ve met, watched, and played with have taught me a lot about the game and life. The game of basketball and its players have done so much for me that I don’t know where I would be without it.
My passion for the sport is going to be with me for the rest of my life.
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