When I finished college, my sister drove out from New York to Altoona, PA for the graduation.
Latoya was doing it, at least from my perspective, at that time. She’d gotten her degree from UPENN and was working in investment banking in Manhattan. She had a new Volkswagen that she drove out to the graduation (to stunt on me, I suppose). While my parents and grandmother gave me cash as gifts, my sister decided to go the functional route.
A $350 gift card to The Men’s Warehouse.
I guess she figured I’d need a suit for job interviews and such. There was a Men’s Warehouse across the street from the Willow Grove Mall, just outside of Philly. I took the bus out there with my gift card.
Some old white guy helped me choose clothing, as I knew nothing about suits. My only requirement was that the suit not be too tight; a baggy suit was even better. The guy measured me up and I picked a white shirt plus a tie. That was all I needed, or so I thought. The salesman then warned my that if I didn’t get another shirt or two, and maybe more ties, “you’re gonna have a uniform instead of a suit.” I needed some variety. I agreed with his suggestive selling, and paid $48 of my own money on top of the $350 for my stuff.
I wore that suit exactly once: to Latoya’s wedding the next year.
My identity was tied so strongly to being a basketball player — and the casual athletic attire that came with such a life — that I felt embarrassed to wear a suit at the time. I felt like I was selling out to the conformist, corporate life of all the other automatons going to work every morning. I hated the fact that I even owned that suit.
When I put on a suit today, I’m excited. Because I’m about to show a room of people who may have never heard of me that a basketball player has something the business professional needs to hear, and will want to hear more of.
I put on a suit one day last summer, stepped on a stage, and magical things happened once I stepped off that stage. One of them was, a book publisher asked if I had any ideas for a book I could write through them.
I told them I had one.
It’s called Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life. And you can preorder it now.