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Two Loves

"At some point, the ball stops bouncing." A common phrase dribbled into the heads of athletes reminding us that we can't rely on our bodies for the rest of our lives. Deterrents like injuries and toxic relationships can be dream crushing. It was emphasized by my father to stay away from women and focus on my dreams. He also encouraged having something on the side creating residual income, making our money work for us and not work for our money.

What happens when you've grasped the words of wisdom, but still fall short. Not to an injury but by your own doing. An unimaginable pain that my father continuously warned me about, coining the phrase "wisher club" claiming that's the society people become apart of when they wish they did or didn't do something.

I was feeling the ramifications when I read the text Amara's mom sent me of the Pro basketball team playing in a 3 on 3 tournament. I instantly thought of my opportunity to play with them. A signed contract and the only thing between me and another run at the professional stage, was time.

At the same time trying my best to put together the family I desperately wanted. Growing up in a two parent household I was destined to make that happen for Amelia, and now, another daughter but not by my doing. Stepping in and pivoting off this child's fathers absence, I make the big step ensuring her that she can move with me and be a family.

There was a eerie feeling in the unknown, I was unsure of when we played games and how it would line up with being a teacher and leading a family. Amelia's mother told me she wasn't moving in with me to have me traveling for basketball so that replayed in my mind. I signed the papers believing I could figure it all out when the time came, but the anxiety in the fear of missing yet another opportunity to play quickly averted my plans.

Opting out of play and into the role of full time employee and father, I believed I was making the right decision. The first time this happened was 2017 when Canada had a tryout for one of their leagues. Caught up in the vagaries of life and relationships, I mentally couldn't fathom focusing on basketball. Or anything for that matter, except for trying to be in Amelia's life.

It became an obsession, contemplating on how to get revenge for the pain that I bare every morning that I wake. There wasn't a suitable plan fit for the destruction I wanted to cause so I decided to force myself to pretend that this is what I wanted. I did want the family, but not the mother that came with it. Of course, at one point, I thought I did.

Unfortunately, I lost sight of that goal and I was reminded as I reached out to a former teammate to see if there was any way possible I could try again. Clenching my fist when reading a negative reply, I stare at my wall where I have a sticker that reads Never Give Up and has a man dunking the basketball.

Is there ever an appropriate time to give up? I've hopped in and out the players circle since I've graduated college in 2016. I've had three golden opportunities that I botched and I have to wonder has my time finally stopped ticking. Certainly, not when it comes to being in shape or skill but has the time since I last played been too long for me to get another contract?

Often, I think of the effort it took to obtain the resume that I have. The miles ran, the push ups, crunches, AAU practices, early mornings, and a plethora of other responsibilities that come with being an athlete. Being in college and truly understanding the world of sports, I was able to grasp a better understanding of the game and myself as a player.

They always talked about how fast everything goes when you start college, but it always seems like gibberish when you're 18 years old. Young and hooping, I was exactly where I wanted to be. Accomplished my dreams of playing Division I basketball, dreams that I plastered on my walls and above light switches to remind me to keep grinding.

Now I'm in college doing the same thing putting play in the NBA/Overseas on my cork board that sat on every cadet's desk. Since it worked last time I was convinced that i will play professionally for years to come. Even though I disappointed myself in college, I felt I prepared myself to make basketball my career.

Looking back on it now, I remember telling myself and my father that I would never let a woman come between me and the game I love. For a long time, nobody could compare, but a chord of insecurity was struck within me that kept my interest despite the circumstances.

I've learned to "never say never" because I've did almost everything I told myself that I never would. Instead, I say that I will do my best to not do that particular thing. I'm not sure if that's superstition but I do believe there is power in our words.

I remember the turning point as I play the conversations over the past years in my head. One day on a road trip she told me that she couldn't be with me because I was too devoted to basketball and that she required more time. Usually, that would've been my ticket to jump back into the single life but something in me refused to let her go. Believing I could compensate for school, the military, basketball, and a demanding girlfriend. Pinching time from each activity to add it to hers.

Why? One day a while back when that conversation resurfaced as I was focusing on self analyzing. The answer that came to me was that I didn't believe that I could get another woman that looked like her. Not confident in my own appearance seeing myself as sub par and not fit to have someone like her.

Pretty, attitude, figure, I thought the way I depicted her was the epitome in what I wanted in a woman. Physically. Hyperfocusing and neglecting the treatment and the mental baggage that came with the relationship I chose to stay and create something that lasted around four years.

My whole college experience essentially.

Fighting the same battles giving the same speeches to no avail and only wiring myself up losing patience and love. With that, I lost a love for the game trying my hardest to get her to understand my point of view and how certain things she does affects me.

Feeling like a hamster on a wheel, I cycled in and out of the starting line up and game changing performances. Unable to keep my head straight, it was surprising how easy it was to get off track. Especially when I was with someone who doesn't see the vision that I have set for myself, and in turn, undervaluing it.

I believe even though my reasons behind my last attempt at fathering Amelia on a daily basis were less than admirable, if it had worked out it would've been worth it. The pain in laying down on the air mattress and hearing that she was leaving the next day still sits with me and has tormented future relations.

We were going into our 15th day living together. I had stopped playing seven days prior to her speaking that night with her back turned to me. Everything froze, I swallowed at the first notion that crossed my mind, I could've hooped.

I was truly devastated in that moment, I knew once again, I had lost out. After that day, I spiraled out, spitting out anger and not touching a basketball or even watching it on TV. It hurt too much. It hurt to know that I was supposed to be out there in the brightness of the lights running and diving on the hardwood.

There's certain feelings, whether bad or good, that stick with you forever. Just like when my father came to help me get better that one windy afternoon, I had the adverse effect when I learned it was all for show. The air mattress seemed a little flatter and my daughter felt more distant than ever that night, even though she lay near me.

Seems like we always negate what our parents tell us questioning where their source of knowledge came from, but they always end up right. My father told me to leave the girls alone because they will deter me from the task at hand. I should've listened, among other things, but our past failures and successes shape us to be who we are today.

Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.

-eloQuint

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