Appreciation

As much as the pride in me would like to believe that I did all of this on my own, it would be naive of me to truly believe that.  Although this was by no means easy, I have been very fortunate to have some very supportive people in my life.  I live my life as I know best and I hope my actions throughout the years have not only reflected the influences these people have had upon me, but have also shown the quality and character of those individuals.  For everything these people have given me, I am eternally grateful and I can only hope I have had a similar influence on them.

 

BASKETBALL

From the beginning of my career, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by the highest qualities of players and coaches.  The man who originally put the ball in my hand was a friend of my father’s, the legendary, and now-deceased, Coach Kevin Mann.  From there I was turned over to perhaps the greatest high school coach in Georgia history, Coach David Boyd.  Through his coaching and the foundation of players at Berkmar High School, who are still like family to me, I have been able to build not only a career, but a life out of basketball.  Guys like Adrien Borders, William Witherspoon, and Shawn Ikpa have all been there from the beginning to not only help me on the court, but also off in bettering myself and becoming a better man.

I have been fortunate in my endeavors to be trained by the best as well.  Coaching sessions with Scott Patterson, Dennis Scott and Gerald Wilkins and in-depth conversations and advice from Toni Kukoc and Earl Boykins.  Taking what they taught me and implementing it on the court fell into the hands of all the guys who took the countless hours to train in the gym with me.  Guys like Bryan Dion and Jared Bostrom have spent countless hours day in and day out not only training in the gym and getting shots up, but sometimes playing in 6 league games a week all over Atlanta.

However, as influential as all of this has been, playing with the WBA’s Gwinnett Majic has been the biggest factor in my success overseas.  Some of the friendships I made there and the advice those guys have passed on to me have greatly impacted my current situation. Adrien Penland, perhaps the best player in the entire world I have ever played with or against, and that includes multiple NBA greats, has always been there as not only a shoulder to lean on and someone to turn to for advice, but as a true friend.

…and then there’s Benjamin “BJ” Puckett.  As many hours we spent training, shooting, and playing 1 on 1 in the gym, we spent off the court getting into trouble and having some of the greatest memories a guy could ask for.  It’s hard to find someone my size to play against, but you can’t find a better, more talented post player in the state of Georgia than him.  And if you doubt this, check his resume.  We’ve had ours ups and downs throughout the years, but he’s probably been more of a constant than any one person in my life over the past 3 or 4 years.  Always someone to turn to when I needed advice on or off the court, or and probably most-importantly, a good laugh.

FAMILY

Although my family’s knowledge of basketball has been minimal at best, they have been as supportive as possible in me pursuing my dreams.  They may not have agreed on my decisions and thought they knew what was best, but still supported me when I basically did the exact opposite.  But, it has led me down a path which they make very clear has made them proud.

Even though I was terrible at any type of sport as a child, I remember my mom putting up a basketball goal in the driveway and encouraging me to go out there and practice with my step-father and neighbors.  Throughout the years, due to circumstances, she has only gotten to see me play once, in college, but through the internet she has finally been able to see highlights of my games and has been nothing but positive in this tireless adventure.

My father tho, who has always been telling me to grow up and become a “real adult”, has always been the person to back me with whatever I think will make me happy.  From silly pursuits of modeling to acting, he has always stood behind me.  He would pull every string he could to get me the best coaching, make sure I got to places I needed to be and showed up to every game possible.  Although I’m sure I’m not where he had hoped I would be at this stage in my life, I know no one else is prouder of me than him.   My biggest critic and biggest fan…

FRIENDS

There is no possible way for me to attempt to thank all of the friends who have supported me throughout the years.  In any attempt at greatness, there have been plenty of ‘friends’ who have fallen short of the definition of that word, but there have been plenty to take their place and be there when I needed them.  Their support has ranged in varying degrees in different areas, but they all have had a profound effect on me.  I apologize if I leave anyone out, but below is a list of the people who come to mind first who have been nothing but supportive in this pursuit:

Ian & Audra Doyle, Chelsea Barsky, The Pruetts, Michael Cook, Colin Matteson, Davy Akin, Patrick Kelly, Josh Garret and the entire Armada gang, Rovi Oliver, Tony Pieracini, Dia Zsukov, Nick Hanek, Brooke Tidswell, Chad Dillon, Sophia Murin, Kevin Sokol, Jeremy File, Jesse Wheeler, Joe Piazza, Mariana Coleman, Megan Supp, Nikki Carden, Tim McGlone, Michael Artis, and I’m sure countless others…

LOVE

As much as I have appreciated all of the above-mentioned people, there have been 3 women who have completely transformed my life, through both ups and downs, support and heartbreak.  But regardless of how they have influenced me, the fact is they have built me up into the man I am now.  It’s funny how it works tho… The one I’ve spent the least amount of time with I speak with on a daily basis, the longest relationship of the 3 I speak with occasionally as we’ve always stayed on good terms, and the one who I was ready to marry and spend my life with, refuses to be a part of it anymore.  But, through everything that has happened, she has been by far the most influential and has gotten me to the point I am right now: The happiest time of my life.  So whether we ever speak again or not, I hope someday she checks this and sees my ‘Thank you…’ and knows that I will ALWAYS be here for her, just as I promised…

1 Comment

  • Gayl Kelly

    1

    Loved reading this! You have had quite some adventures --- more to come. Keep us all updated! By the way, I am Patrick Kelly's mother! Hope to see you when you are in town!

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