This year has been a great for me on and off of the basketball court. From getting an opportunity with the Boston Celtics and playing in the d league to signing with Nike and becoming an N7 ambassador. My year has had many ups and downs but I’ve grown and improved as a player and person. I’ve learned so much this year about being a professional on and off the basketball court. My off season has been great so far. I started traveling to host my Blessed 2 Bless Basketball camps and I’ve had the opportunity to visit numerous small villages and towns. I finished my last camp this week in Greenville, BC and it was a great experience the other camps. It’s been such a great experience so far working with youth from all over and being given the chance to share my story and inspire the youth. I’ve decided I will be signing with an overseas team this year within the next 2-3 weeks. I’m excited to be placed in a great situation in a great league in Europe. The NBA dream will continue but this years decision was made because it’s the best decision for my family and I. Right now I’m on my way to Portland, Oregon to visit the Nike headquarters and speak at the Unity Youth Conference. I will have the opportunity to speak to thousands of Native American youth and I can’t wait for this special experience. I’m just a kid from a village in Alaska and God has continued to use me in great ways. As you all know, the marathon continues and I can’t wait to update all of you down the road as my career moves on.
Life doesn’t always go the way you plan. Sometimes, you face obstacles and challenges that can either make you or break you. I have been faced with adversity my whole life and up to this point I’ve chosen to make the best of my situation. These last four years at ORU have been up and down but I’ve done my very best to always remember how blessed I was to be in that situation. As most know, I grew up in a village in Alaska and I’ve worked for everything that I could control with the help of peers, mentors, and coaches. Throughout these four years, I’ve faced many challenges and I’ve pushed by every single one and I’m proud of that. Basketball led me to ORU and I had opportunities to leave to “bigger” schools to play but I remained faithful because the coaches stayed faithful to me and I don’t regret staying, at all. I believe everything happens for a reason and I was placed at ORU to change lives and meet great people. I am in Tulsa finishing up a few classes and my internship so that I can get my degree in Media and Advertising. Now that I’m done playing at ORU, my name will be in books for a very long time and I have so many great memories. I didn’t get to the NCAA tournament but I won and developed relationships with guys that I now call my brothers. I leave Tulsa tomorrow to train in LA and workout for 15-20 NBA teams this weekend. When I talk about perspective, I’m talking about realizing just how blessed I am. I wasn’t expected to make it out of a village in Alaska to playing Division 1 basketball and do well. I wasn’t expected to make it through college but I am about to have my degree. I wasn’t expected to have the impact on many lives that I am having but I am. I am not expected to play in the NBA but I’m going to give everything I have to reach that dream even if I play overseas, I will keep pushing towards that dream. I’m not even supposed to be in this position but God made a way. Life is ALL about perspective and how you look at a situation. You will be pushed down and you will be told no but if you want to reach your dreams, you never quit fighting. I am so blessed for the opportunities coming my way on and off the court. I am in the midst of pursuing a professional career while expecting my 1st son (Isaiah) in July and I couldn’t be happier about where I am today. I still have so many more lives to change and things to accomplish but ALWAYS focus on looking at the best of a situation no matter what. God will reveal your calling to you.
I’m a little late with this post but I felt like I needed to write a post about being thankful. As I sat in my room during Xmas break reading tweets and face book posts about having a merry Christmas, I felt like I was missing out on so much. I started to think about everything I had to be thankful for and realized just how blessed I am and I shouldn’t take anything for granted. Every day that I enter our arena to work out or go to practice, I was walk past an old man that works there as a security guard. He is always so happy and you wonder why he’s so happy because all he does is sit at that desk all day or walk around the Mabee Center. I realized that he isn’t bored, sad or mad about his situation. He loves his job and every opportunity he gets, he’s greeting all of us with a big wave and smile. He’s always so happy. I decided that I needed to try to take that approach to my day every chance I get. You never know what is behind the corner and you always need to count your blessings rather than your problems. I always tell kids that they need to thank their parents at my camps for sending them to my camps and always be grateful. Everyone should live with the mentality of making the best of a situation because tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t be wrapped up in material things because there are people out there who have NOTHING. I’ve walked into many obstacles over the last few weeks such as my baby sister being sent to jail and getting mail from her. Yes, it’s disappointing and heartbreaking but I would rather have her there then possibly ending up dead. Life is all about perspective. Stay positive and take away the good from every situation that arises because God sends his strongest soldiers the toughest battles. That’s my advice to anyone that reads this, to stay positive and count your blessings because you never know what tomorrow brings. Stay blessed, everyone.
Something that I have been using this summer has been “Blessed 2 Bless.” I use this because when someone is blessed with a gift, they should share this gift and pass this gift on to the next person. I tell kids that I want to be a resource for them because I didn’t have many resources when I was a kid. I spent my two weeks away from school in Canada and Seattle. I spent 7 straight days in Canada teaching and running basketball camps. I didn’t just teach the kids about basketball but I gave them lessons in life. I can relate to these small, native communities because I grew up exactly how they did. Working with kids and involving basketball is my passion. This summer opened up my eyes to exactly how big of an impact I can have on these kids and others. It’s an amazing feeling knowing these kids want to be like you and want to inspire others. I told these groups in Canada that it would be amazing to look down the road 15 years from now and see them doing what I am doing. Living out their dreams and inspiring kids to do the exact same. Success is extremely foreign to these small, native communities because they are viewed as a statistic. I don’t want them to live up to those stereotypes. I told them, if I can come from a small village in Alaska to playing at the division 1 level, then anything is possible for them. I want them to dream so BIG that it seems impossible. Each time a kid would come up to me and say thank you, I wanted to thank THEM because they are helping me grow and evolve as a person and role model. My time spent in these two small communities in Canada was AMAZING. After my week in Canada, I spent a week in Seattle working out but I was asked to come speak to a native youth basketball camp. I spoke to about 60 kids and they responded so well. They told me how they had big dreams and how they wanted to chase those dreams because they saw me doing it. The more and more I work with kids, it makes me hungrier to spread my story and inspire as many kids as possible. If you are blessed with something, it’s you’re duty to use that gift to better others. That has become my goal. I’m going to continue to work hard to improve as a basketball player and I want to use basketball along with my story to inspire kids from small communities in Canada, Alaska, and any kid I come in contact with. I grew as a person this summer because of all the interactions I had with kids. I brought up a trainer I work with to help me with a camp and he told the campers “in order to believe something, you have to see it” and he pointed at me. This made me emotional because it made me realize how big of an impact I’m having and it stills seems unreal to me. Every day he texts me and tells me I can change lives. He says keep giving back, keep giving hope to these kids and you’re time will come. We’re back at school and back to the grind. We are back on the routine of weights, class, conditioning and basketball. This summer, I not only improved as a basketball player but I improved as person all thanks to the youth. It’s crazy how one moment can change you’re whole outlook on life. I’ll be checking in very soon, stay tuned and check out my video below of me speaking to the camp in Seattle!
Earlier this week, I got a text from one of our coaches asking if I would come speak to underprivileged kids with a teammate at a church. I immediately said yes. The day of the dinner, I had no idea what I was going to talk about. I never plan what I am going to talk about and basically go “off the dome.” I said it was interesting that I was there because I just posted about overcoming adversity and not wanting to be a statistic. I began explaining my story and told them I could relate to them because I grew up seeing alcohol abuse, suicide, domestic violence and suicide. All of these kids came from broken homes and I didn’t know how they would act. I stood up to speak and they all had huge smiles one they’re faces. As I finished speaking, I asked if they had any questions and about 3 tables full of girls began raising they’re hands to say “do u know you look like The Rock?” It was hilarious. My teammate finished speaking and we signed cards for them saying positive things. They also signed one for me and gave it to me saying thank you and how I made a difference. They kept telling me they wanted me to come back so I made a promise to come back every Saturday that they have the dinner. Each time I speak to kids, it helps ME become better. Those kids grew yesterday and so did I. They told me what they wanted to be and I told them, no matter what to NEVER let anyone tell them they can’t do those things. I’ll be going back to see those kids every month now. You may not be able to change a life in a day, but you can sure make a difference. Share your blessings and gifts with others. INSPIRE!
I’ll be returning to Canada in about a week in a half. The two communities I had visited earlier this summer want me to return after summer school to host two more clinics. I’m really excited to go back and share with the kids. A big reason I am happy to go to these communities is because the kids grew up how I did. I love to relate to the kids I work with. Skidegate is a native community consisting of about 800 people and Masset is a small community consisting of about 500. My native american ancestry is called Haida and these communities are made up of the Haida people. I’ve been going back and forth with these communities for the last two weeks and I’ll be in Skidegate the 31st until the 3rd and then in Masset the 4th until the 7th. Kids and parents have been contacting me through twitter and Facebook, telling me how excited they are for me to return. Comments and messages like that make these camps and clinics so much worth while. Being able to have this kind of an effect on these small towns is amazing for me because I can relate to them and what they see every day. I’ll check in with a post after the camps and let all of you know how they went!
I thought I would be random and open up to my blog readers some. Many people know that I’m from Alaska but not too many people know my background. There’s so much more to me then anyone would know. I grew up in a small, small town called Hydaburg and this town consisted of about 350 people growing up. This town was and still is infested with drug and alcohol addiction along with a good portion of my island called Prince of Wales island. While I was growing up, I saw people constantly drunk, wives being beat, my parents getting into physical disputes because of alcohol and kids getting drunk and high at the young ages of 12. I saw some of my best friends doing drugs and drinking at young ages. I saw lives taken because of suicide and drunk driving. I slowly grew away from these types of behaviors and focused on basketball. I was always at the gym playing with the adults and being cussed out or being threatened because that’s how it was growing up there. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know there’s people out there that have it worse then me. This is simply for the people that are curious to know what I came from. I never had positive role models to look up to consistently. The ones I did look up to were “local legends” and didn’t go play college basketball. They hung out, fished, and partied. I looked up to these guys. My peers and I didn’t know any better then that. Statistically, I should still be back in Hydaburg fishing and partying with the people I grew up with. I’m one of 5 division 1 basketball players out of Alaska and I’m proud to say that. I go back and give kids a positive role model to look up to because I didn’t have that growing up. I always tell coaches and trainers I work with that when I’m all done down the road, I want my story to change lives and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve fully committed myself to improving and giving back. I’m a face for suicide prevention in my region in Alaska now and all of this has happened for a reason. Like people always say, there’s more to what people see then what meets the eye. I didn’t want to be just another statistic.