I’ve always said basketball is my coping mechanism in life, but art is the one thing that takes me away from everything going on.
My own personal mute button—who would have thought?
Drawing is my distraction from reality. It’s my way of escaping a world with so much noise. It’s an opportunity to just be in the present, you know?
I feel like people spend a lot of time worrying about the future. What am I going to do? Where will I do it? When will it happen?
All of that goes out the window every time I pick up a pencil or a paint brush. If only for a small moment in time, nothing else matters.
I started drawing as far back as I can remember—probably further back than the first time I picked up a basketball.
I’m a self-taught artist, but there might be something going on in the gene pool with my dad also being a good drawer. We had this running joke where he’d say I traced whatever I drew when I showed him my artwork.
But he always encouraged me to follow my passion for drawing because I believe he understood the peace it brought me.
In many ways, I think it brought him the same peace.
In all honesty, I’m nervous about a lot of things in life—making friends, fitting in, and just generally feeling accepted. Most people probably wouldn’t even think that when seeing how competitive I am in sports. I played basketball, soccer, and ran track in high school. So I was used to being around a bunch of different people and personalities.
But I still had my own anxieties, especially when college came into the equation. That opened up a whole other world of concerns in my life. Just the thought of going off and attending an entirely different school with new coaches and teammates wasn’t the easiest transition.
Those are the moments when I’d pick up my pencil and draw.
Going to college and playing sports was always a goal of mine. I just never knew which sport I wanted to pursue.
I loved basketball and soccer equally to the point where I wasn’t able to make a full commitment to either sport until my sophomore year in high school. I know that’s a tad late but hey, everything worked out really well.
Because of my late commitment to the sport of basketball, I wasn’t heavily recruited in high school. So, when Oakland contacted me and offered me an opportunity to represent the Golden Grizzlies, it was more than just a relief – it was an amazing opportunity.
Oakland followed my career very closely through AAU and high school ball. That persistence meant everything to me. How could it not? The fact that anyone would invest that much time and interest in my career was greatly rewarding.
I really felt like I didn’t need to wait for anything else to come.
When Coach Jeff Tungate called and offered me a scholarship, everything changed. My throat dried up. My mouth went numb. I was speechless and in total shock.
And then came the tears.
I worked my entire life in hopes of one day getting an opportunity to play a college sport. Then out of the blue, there I was being offered a chance to play Division I basketball. Moments like that are once in a lifetime. It was a really good feeling.
Of course, the nerves weren’t too far behind.
I wasn’t worried about being away from home because I’ve never really been the type of person to get homesick. I’ve always seen myself as someone that embraces change, but there were some concerns with how I’d fit in with my new teammates.
Fortunately, once I met them, I knew that this doesn’t have to worry me moving forward. Frankly, my teammates and coaches are a big reason for why I had such a successful freshman year.
Their faith in me gave me the confidence I needed to take my game to the next level. More importantly, it gave me the peace to just be myself.
And being myself also means continuing to follow my passion for art.
I’ve considered the possibility of one day turning this into a future work endeavor. Maybe I could sell some of my paintings or possibly even become an art teacher to share that passion with other people. The latter might be the most realistic long-term option for me.
I think painting solely for someone else’s validation would take some of the love and fun out of what I do, though. So whatever I decide to do, the most important thing is keeping that passion for art alive. To me, it’s more than simply a means to an end.
I just wish I had more time to invest in my artwork. I’m definitely going to start trying to set aside more time for it. If anything, the recent Coronavirus lockdown gave me an opportunity to rediscover that part of myself again. It was kind of an awakening.
These moments are just so precious and valuable to me.
And I can’t wait to dedicate more time to this passion of mine again.