Continued from Part 1…
At age 16, I was six-foot-two, or close to that height. And I wasn’t satisfied with just being a stand-around-the-three-point-line player.
An older (and better) player from the neighborhood told me that I need to start working on my “off-the-dribble” game. Another older player told me that everyone knew that I could stand in the corner and shoot jumpers — but what else could I do?
I didn’t yet have an answer.
I had solid dribbling ability, but I had a hard time getting past smaller, quicker players — and I wasn’t the best finisher at the basket area. I didn’t have the same touch on layups and floaters as some smaller players, and I wasn’t athletic enough to play above the rim.
Something had to give. I decided I’d gamble on the above-the-rim part of the equation.
I bought this plyometric training program called Air Alert by mailing a money order to the address listed in SLAM Magazine. The program promised a significant boost in vertical jump & explosiveness, which was exactly what I needed.
The twenty-page booklet that came back, and the results that followed my following of that program, literally changed my life.
I never got an official measurement of my vertical jump until 2011 (when I measured 39” at a pro exposure camp in Las Vegas), but doing Air Alert created tangible, significant changes to the way I played basketball.
I wouldn’t get caught from behind on breakaways anymore.
I could out-jump opponents and teammates for rebounds.
Oh, and now I could dunk with ease.
On the basketball playgrounds, a jumpshot is well-respected. But two other skills — ball handling and dunking — are more than merely respected: they’re feared and honored. My athleticism made me a player who people wanted to watch.
Over the course of 3 months, with the help of Air Alert, my basketball-player profile went from stand-around shooter to dunker.
That athleticism got me on my high school varsity (finally). Then it got me a starting spot as a walk-on college freshman. After that freshman season, I got recruited by another college, transferred and finished my years there.
By this point, I was bathing so deeply in my profile as an athletic player that I’d completely forgotten about shooting, kind of how a girl becomes surprisingly popular in a short period of time and forgets about her old friends from back when she was a nobody (think Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls).
I was the most athletic player on nearly every court I touched all four years of college, so much so that my reputation preceded me. People guarded me as if I couldn’t shoot from the outside, and for all intents and purposes, I was a below-average shooter — I’d lost all that shooting confidence from seventh grade by simple neglect.
I was an athlete, and shooting was a distant second in priority.
My athleticism got me into professional basketball. A few notable dunks at my first exposure camp (I was the most athletic player there, too) resulted in a glowing scouting report… that got me signed to my first agent… who got me to Kaunas, Lithuania. The first time I dunked in practice in Kaunas, there were gasps from my teammates.
Athleticism was my business partner, and we were both eating very well; getting fat, even.
A couple years later, I signed to play in Montenegro. The team had a beautiful new gym, but that gym had just one drawback. This one problem would threaten my relationship with my athleticism.
Continued in Part 3 tomorrow…
This story is part of the (much) larger picture of how I went from nobody basketball player to somebody player to online influencer (before there were influencers) to OG YouTuber to Podcaster to entrepreneur and author — all of which I detail in my forthcoming book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life, coming February 22. You should preorder the book for the free bonuses alone — check them out here.