I’m a 17 year old male and one day I’m going to play in the NBA, at the age of 14 I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I was heavily bullied and on the verge of transferring schools to escape the hurtful things I faced everyday, my room at home became my temple, my sanctuary and that wasn’t normal, getting to sleep with a thousand things juggling on my mind was straight torture. I never wanted to fall asleep because it felt like the next day of school was closer. I procrastinated from the second I got home to my eventual sleep to let my mind be at ease with itself and hopefully lose concentration on the problems I was facing at school. I was the kid that played video games and stayed inside all day living in the shadows with my own insecurities. I was bullied. ALOT. Oh how cruel people can be, I had made a YouTube video of myself doing stupid things that I thought was funny and people could laugh at, I got so much joy from hearing someone laugh or seeing someone smile and this was just another way of me doing this. This expectation couldn’t have been any more far off. Google using their new ‘if you don’t remember your password, fuck you’ policy didn’t allow me to delete this from the internet where it would eventually surface a year later after showing close friends/relatives etc, and it gave me hell, I had told my parents to take further actions countless times with a repeated “get over it, its not that bad”, little did they know, every student at the school had been given a laptop for study and brought it everyday. I could hear that awful thing playing from every classroom I passed by, in the hallways on cellphones while people called me common things like “faggot” or “virgin” to physical violence and telling me to take my own life. I went from being the bubbly kid who everyone liked to be around to the outcast punching bag that could relieve them from their own boredom, but enough sad story because what happened next is special. It was December 2013, after being in the dark for many years bottling up my emotions and hurt for something miraculous to happen, and it did. Christmas morning came around, the one thing I used to look forward to every year. I had opened my presents that morning to hear that I had one more waiting for me in my driveway, it was a basketball hoop. At the time, I hadn’t a clue about basketball or sports in general. It was one day within the Christmas Holidays that I been told to play outside and get some fresh air when I decided to shoot around with my new hoop. That day changed my life forever. From taking a few shots to eventually playing for hours on end just working on my game. I had found my niche, and how could it have been the polar opposite of what I thought i’d end up doing? I registered at my nearest basketball association to play in a division 4 social comp and within a 6 month period of playing the game for hours a day I moved to the premiere representative team (varsity) where I would eventually win the MVP award and had high expectations to play college in America and hopefully moved to the professional level after. I WORKED SO HARD. Every day for the next two years was used to improve my game, and not only did it teach me discipline, a high work ethic and the value of exercise, the game taught me how to treat people, to think for myself and to value oneself not based on some stupid video which by the way I found the password to delete and elected to keep it as a reminder to never let someone take you down for being yourself, being you is the most important thing in life, it is the key to happiness. I met my best friend who was in an extremely similar position after he had transferred to my school where we clicked at an instant, he loved to play too and we bonded and shaped our friendship over the game. How can putting a ball through a hoop give me courage, friendship, strength, fitness, discipline, social skills and maybe even a stint for an American college? (hopefully USC haha). I earned the respect of every ‘person’ in my school and they left me alone. Basketball saved my life and in return ill give my own and dedicate it to the game.
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