I always say, “Experience is what you make it,” and that is the perfect way to describe my time at Long Beach State University.
I’ve made it the best it could be for myself.
I am embracing the culture the city provides and becoming a passionate member of the LBSU family. It was a long and unpredictable path for me to get here, and I’m thankful for every step along the way because this university has helped shape me into the man I knew I could be and the person I wanted to become.
An unpredictable start
Basketball has done so much for me, but the start was different than most. When I was just a little kid, not even five years old, I was playing everything but basketball.
Baseball, soccer, football, you name it, I played it.
However, that changed when we found out I was allergic to fresh-cut grass. Not something you ever hear about, right?
But it’s my story.
I was so small that I didn’t understand how serious it was and what it meant for my life. I just adjusted by playing more indoor sports like basketball.
Luckily for me, the sport stuck.
I fell in love with the game and fell in love with the details.
See, basketball isn’t just about getting buckets. It’s about working on your footwork, shifting your body in small ways to gain an advantage, and working on your physical strength.
Growing up, my dad would constantly challenge me.
When he’d leave home for a few days, he’d give me a test to get better on something like my left-hand dribbling, and from the time he left till the time he returned, I’d work on that.
It became like an exhilarating pop quiz that I’d cram for and be eager to pass. This kind of passion and focus is why I had Division I schools talking to me when I was 13, 14 years old, and when the time came, I was ready to take the next step.
Every college student has a story about how they chose their school.
Where they applied, where they got accepted, and why they chose those schools.
For me, this story has more than one ending.
I first committed to Tulane University. I was happy with the decision and prepared to study and play there for my collegiate career, but I felt the fit wasn’t perfect after some time.
Nothing against the school but I just thought I could find something more ideal for myself. Something that would align more with where I wanted to go and where I saw my future self.
Making the decision on what college to go to is hard.
Deciding to move on and try something else is even harder.
That’s exactly what I did when I transferred to LBSU. I made a tough decision to start again, but sometimes, the toughest decisions have the most rewarding results.
Life at the beach
Playing for LBSU gives me indescribable joy. I love putting on the black and gold and representing Long Beach. The style Coach Monson has us playing is definitely my speed.
We’re running, pushing the pace, and playing free.
I can just be myself in his system, and that brings out the best in me and the guys.
This has never been more true than when we played UCLA this past November. UCLA is a basketball powerhouse. A historic program that was ranked number two in the nation when we played them.
That didn’t intimidate us.
We knew they were good, but we also knew we could play with anybody in the country, and we proved it that day.
Yeah, we lost 100-79, but we tested and pushed those Bruins!
I had a career-high 27 points, and people who watched thinking it was just going to be a UCLA show found out that Long Beach has some ballers, too!
A victory would’ve been better, but we sent a message to the nation that we would be a tough team to beat. We went 20-13 this season and won the Big West, so we backed up our confidence with our play.
Off the court, I’ve loved my time here as well.
The organizations and clubs on campus have given me some of the most enriching experiences of my life.
It’s awesome that this campus is so well connected with the community and people of Long Beach.
It doesn’t feel like an isolated campus away from the world.
Being at LBSU feels like you’re part of something bigger than yourself; you’re part of the city, the current student body, and the alumni that came before us.
When life gives you…
It’s amazing what can happen with some hard work, community support, and a few brave decisions.
My life journey has been unexpected and, at times, random, but through it all, I’ve done some things I’m incredibly proud of, and it’s unbelievable to think it all started by dribbling an orange ball indoors to avoid playing in fresh-cut grass.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and I’m proud of the lemons I’ve squeezed throughout my journey.