Professional Athlete. When someone thinks of this occupation(at least someone living in the United States for sure), certain things almost always come to mind; Fame…Fortune…Countless Women…a general life of luxury. Most of the images you see on television, social media, etc. will almost always tend to back up this description. For quite a while, my life to an extent did actually fall into that base category.
At the age of 21, and after spending 3 years at the University of Connecticut (U-C-O-N-N), I was taken by the New Jersey Nets with the 23rd pick in the 2006 NBA draft. What followed was a life that I honestly was not even close to prepared for. Being at Uconn prepared me for the basketball portion, but it did little to prepare me for all that went along with the NBA; I was very much thrown into the fire, and had to try my best to adapt to the constant travel, tremendous pressure, media attention, and basically having my life turned completely upside-down literally overnight.
I spent 4 years in the NBA, and I got to experience all of the great things that most people would think come along with being in that position. I flew first class everywhere I went, or if it was a team trip we would fly on a private plane that we shared with a few other pro sports teams in the area. I received free clothing from a variety of places. Because of the money I was making, I was able to take several vacations to exotic locations that most people can only dream about going to. At one point, I had 4 cars. And, best of all, I had a wonderful girlfriend. Granted, not everything was great or easy about life; We constantly had appearances and events that we had to be going to. The traveling to all the different cities was extremely tiring and a lot of the time, I had no idea what time zone I was even in. I remember one day when we flew to Orlando, and I actually thought I was in Miami because we had been traveling so much and I had totally lost track of where we were going next. The media in this area was also brutal; they say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere…well I can tell you from experience, that statement couldn’t be more true.
Despite any of the negatives(and there were more, which at some point I will get into), I think you would agree that the positives far outweighed the negatives. A lot of days now, I miss it. I actually don’t miss the lifestyle, but I miss how easy life was. At times, it was almost as if I didn’t live in the real world. Now however, I live in the very real world.
I have been playing overseas for the last 6 years now, and have experienced more ups and downs than I could have possibly imagined. The life of an athlete outside of this country is so vastly different from the life I experienced under the umbrella of the NBA. No more free clothing. No more super exotic vacations. No more incredible girlfriend. Instead, those things have been replaced with real world problems. Trying to develop a reasonable budget, along with trying to save enough money before I retire. Fighting every day to keep not only my starting position, but my job in general. Attempting to start a relationship with someone, knowing I could potentially be away for 9 months out of the year.
I’ve decided to do this blog, because I want to share some of my life experiences with people. I want to show that being a professional athlete is absolutely not always what it’s made out to be. I want to be an example for young student athletes, to show that if you follow your dreams, anything truly is possible. But, I want to be real as well, and show that it’s not just as simple as playing a game for a living. In fact, sometimes it involves not even playing at all.
Right now, I’m not visiting some exotic location, or in a night club surrounded by beautiful women. I’m sitting alone in my apartment, surrounded by boxes because I’m packing up and my lease is up on Monday, and hoping for a phone call from one of my agents someday soon, saying there’s a team that wants me to come and play for them.
The life of a pro athlete is not always glitz and glamour. Sometimes, it’s total uncertainty; uncertainty of where you will be living next week, what country you will be making your money in, and when that next paycheck may actually come. But despite all of this, I still love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.