Basketball and Data: A Final Voyage.

Four takeaways, for those who enjoy a brief summary:

  1. Anything worth going after is hard.
  2. Figure out what’s important to you, and pursue your goals while satisfying your obligations. Otherwise, they’ll become roadblocks.
  3. Be okay with failing or messing up. It sucks, but don’t fear it.
  4. It’s the rollercoaster ride of life that makes it all worth it. Constant opportunities for learning is what enables you to avoid a life of mediocrity.

I simply wish to share the strenuous, yet fulfilling rollercoaster ride of life I’ve had so far and the lessons I’ve learned from my experiences, in hopes that someone can find a nugget or two of satisfaction in some area of their life: whether insightful or entertaining.

I’ve been pursuing basketball for the past two years. In December 2015, I made a conscious effort to return to the sport after being inactive since March 2014 (that’s a long time). I worked out quite fervently for the next 5 months and got into basketball shape, only to fully rupture my left Achilles on April 28th, 2016.

That date is quite hard to forget. It was my first game back.

Achilles ruptures suck. Average recovery time: 1 year. I went into surgery on May 10th, 2016. The interim time between the ruptured ankle and surgery were life-depleting. I’d never faced adversity that intense before. It manifested in finding it hard to believe my injury, to finally breaking down and crying all night…3 nights before my surgery.

Once the emotion subsided, I was left with the choice of what I wanted to do. I could give up, or I could keep going. Every decision in life is that simple. It’s the details in the past or the future that complicate things. I chose to keep going.

I found a trainer in San Francisco that had a basketball background and started doing recovery/weight training with him. I also found a Pilates instructor that specialized in injury recovery and started working with her. My college teammate that still plays professionally introduced me to his shooting coach and I started working with him. From August 2016 to October 2016, I did weight training and Pilates. From October 2016 to April 2017, I trained with a shooting coach 2,800 miles away from home in Washington D.C.

I emptied all of my savings and left my wife in California for 7 months. That’s not the most ideal situation to put your wife in.

It paid off though. Those decisions made me the best basketball player I’ve ever been. I can shoot, dribble and post-up…a nice trio for a seven-footer. As May 2017 comes around, I receive the best news I’ve ever received in my life.

I’m going to be a father! My elation filled the DC hotel room my wife and I were in when she told me the news. Remember those past/future details I told you about? The future details of a son on the way compelled me to come back to California and continue my training from there. Instead of playing the summer in DC, I choose to play in a pro-am (showcase league) called the Drew League in Los Angeles.

I play well. Things are lining up quite favorably for me. I receive an offer to play in Mexico’s first league. I also was able to get into a national D-League tryout in Chicago, where all 30 NBA teams were present. I’m exactly where I want to be. I go out and have a strong start…only to hear a pop in my right calf 10 minutes into the first game.

Calf strain: out for 4–6 weeks. My tryout is over.

I don’t make any D-League teams. Mexico comes off the table after hearing about my injury. I try to recover in time to try out for Sacramento’s D-League team, only to reinjure my calf on the first day…in addition to being somewhat out of shape due to my recovery time off.

I’m left with nothing at the end of the summer but an empty savings account, a wife that’s been working way too hard to provide for way too long, and a baby on the way.

I go to family and friends for advice. My father, a pastor, tells me the realest thing I’ve heard to date: “I’ve seen my share of people on their deathbeds, and typically their biggest concern is how they’re leaving the relationships they have with their loved ones.”

Thinking of my wife and future son, I decide to hang up the basketball and put on a tie. It was time to return to the corporate world. Not an easy decision.

I go to a corporate sales recruiter and find a position at a FinTech startup that is experiencing a considerable amount of growth and success. The competitive satisfaction of the sales industry, in addition to the great people I’m surrounded by at the company, solidify that this startup is somewhere I can truly develop my professional career and find satisfaction.

Then, basketball comes knocking again.

During my time of seeking advice, one of my mentors reintroduced me to one of his colleagues, who referred me to one of his colleagues that had a project that’d allow me to pursue basketball while strengthening my professional resume. The allure of the return to sport compelled me to make a difficult decision to leave a startup I’d found success in early, to return to the unknowns of basketball to try out again in 2018…

And that’s where this story currently is.

I’d truly enjoy the opportunity to share my story as I continue this path to becoming a professional athlete. The main allure of sharing my story is to have an accountability partner among my community of peers, and to also document the incredible opportunities and challenges I’ll face. So, what is the premise of my story moving forward?

The goal is the NBA. Option B is to be a monstrous data scientist.

I look forward to sharing my experiences moving forward, in addition to telling you more about how I plan to prep for these goals in my next post: The Great Science Experiment.