I’m a pretty firm believer, at least when it comes to my life, that everything happens for a reason. Regardless of the current inconvenience and difficulty, in the end, everything that has happened to me, whether good or bad has seemed to lead me down a path I feel I was meant to be on. I’ve been sitting on the idea for this post for almost a month now, since September 12th when, during a workout, I landed awkwardly and broke the 4th metatarsal in my right foot, known in the medical world as a Jones Fracture. I’m far from the first NBA player to suffer such an injury. I join a pretty prestigious club comprised of names like, Kevin Durant, CJ McCollum, and Pau Gasol. I felt that the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. This entire summer I was working harder than I ever had, and felt that I had made more improvements to my game than ever before. I felt I was poised to burst into the season a new player, displaying skills no one had seen in me before. I’d gotten to San Antonio about two weeks prior to my injury and was playing with the guys in open gyms and workouts. During that time I felt as if I was playing my best basketball, hitting my stride in every way. When the injury finally occurred, I was devastated, it felt like all my work I had put in was abruptly taken from me unfairly. Not only was I playing at a high level, I was in my first free agency, vying for a job. Suddenly, I was thrust into a less than ideal situation that I was completely unprepared for. Now here I am the day after signing, and I can finally publicly discuss my injury. Today happens to also be World Mental Health Day. No such thing as coincidences.
Over the past year I’ve done a lot of reading, and one of the most important lessons I've learned is that in no way, shape, or form, can we control the things that happen to us, but we can ALWAYS control how we respond to them. I took that lesson to heart when I broke my foot. After a day of wallowing in self pity, I examined my position in life and decided I wasn’t going to let this break me. I’m not going to allow this set back to bury me in depression and anxiety like I would have in the past. I began to reflect on my life in regards this game, and I started to think about just how unhealthy my relationship with it is. My entire life there’s been a direct connection between my performance on the court and my perceived self worth. This toxic relationship has created countless dangerous depressive states, sickening anxiety, and identity crises. I realized I can use this injury as an opportunity to step away from the game and work on fixing my relationship with the game I love.
For the last 15 years or so, when anybody would ask me “Who are you?” the first thing that I would say is “I’m a basketball player.” This meant my entire identity rested on something as fickle and inconsistent as my performance on the court. A bad game meant I was worthless and would crush me in ways I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I’m doing my best to use this injury to my benefit. To be able to change how I view myself as a human being. To change the things in which I believe my worth lies. I believe the path I was on was leading me down a destructive road, and now I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to work on something far more important than an orange ball...myself.