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College Comment
Why I’m Quitting Basketball

After 18 years of working towards playing Division I basketball, and after achieving second-team All Ivy status and leading the Bulldogs in scoring last season, I have chosen no longer to play for the Yale men’s basketball team this season.

Yes, I dreamed the dreams that all men dream. I envisioned thrilling, game- winning shots on national television, Dick Vitale saying “He’s a PTPer, Baby!,” a professional uniform on my back, the glory of the NBA. Yet I believe that there is a higher purpose in life, which for me is to become the best person I can become, to fulfill God’s purpose.

Sure, I might have been the captain of the team or played in the NBA, but to me those are merely external accolades, which often lead people in the deceptive directions of money and fame, instead of the higher aims of divine purpose and truth. Millions of Americans find themselves working each day to support the overrated ideal of comfort, caught up in a descending spiral of unhappiness and disillusionment.

If my goals are to become the person I am meant to be and to be happy, then the decision not to play basketball is easy. When I look two years down the road, do I want to say I played basketball for Yale but did not get to meet with my teachers, did not get to read all of my class materials, did not go to master’s teas, or did not have the opportunity to wake up on a Saturday morning and talk with my roommates? To the contrary, I want to look at my fellow classmates on graduation day and say “I have become the person I was meant to be.”

Deep within, I know that I will not help the most people by putting the ball in the basket. I feel called to study philosophy and religion, to expose the contradictions that people of African descent face in America every day, to give my life to humanity. Indeed, there are times in every man’s life when he must look at himself, evaluate his gifts, and have the courage to listen to his heart. What would have happened if Bob Marley had chosen a job at Goldman Sachs instead of music because it paid more money, or if Martin Luther King Jr. had thought it better to work on Wall Street than to be a political prisoner in a Birmingham jail?

Every man must distinguish between external comforts and internal truths. Every man must learn from the great traditions of northern Africa, and “Know Thyself.”

So I thank the great basketball fans of Yale who rushed onto the court after we beat Princeton in double overtime. I thank Coaches James Jones and Dick Kuchen for giving me the chance to be great at something, and for allowing me to share a piece of myself with the rest of the Yale community. And I thank God for giving me the ability to continue playing basketball whenever I choose. But let it be known that it was never about the dream itself, it was the pursuit of the dream, and the act of dreaming, that was important.  the end


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