I still remember how we met, when I was 4 years old and my parents walked into the house with that plastic Fisher Price hoop. My dad immediately set the rim to the tallest height. I tried to dunk it every single time, man. I never wanted to shoot. Dunks only.
I fell in love during those pickup games at the Northwoods Recreation Center. A lot of good memories as a kid running around on that stained brown floor with the crack down the middle of the lane. Remember how my dad used to tie my right hand behind my back to make me to use my left? I used to hate that, but I kind of loved it too. Or how the older guys at the neighborhood blacktop used to push me down, swat my shot into the weeds and make me go get the ball? My cousins were twice my age just straight dogging me at 10 years old. I felt like if I could play with them, though, I could play with anyone. You taught me I had to be tough or I wasn’t ever going to make it.
I can’t get the feeling I get with you anywhere else. There’s nothing like being free out on the court, just running with my brothers. There's nothing like catching a defender with bad feet, hitting him with an in-and-out crossover, a little hesitation, and just floating to the rim.
Which is what makes this so hard for me…
See basketball, as much as you mean to me, right now, football is what’s best for me. I’ve been blessed with scholarship offers from some of the best football programs in the country. Schools from all the way up in Syracuse, New York want me to play for them. Schools way out in Eugene, Oregon call me daily. Me, little Mikey from 10 Mile off Remount Road and Rivers Avenue. And they want me to be the future. Come on now, man.
It’s weird because it feels I’m leaving a relationship that I want to be in. It feels like a divorce. I guess I don’t even really know what a divorce feels like but this is probably pretty close. At the same time, it feels like the best day of my life. It feels like everything I’ve been working for. When I say it’s a dream come true, I mean I’ve really been dreaming about this my whole life. I’ve prayed on it more times than I can count, more than I’ve ever prayed on anything.
That's how I know I'm making the right decision in leaving you behind, basketball. From now on, I'm focused solely on football. That's it. I’m committing to the national champions, the Clemson Tigers.