I was 14, in seventh grade when I first met my future JV Coach Matt Tamm. My seventh grade basketball season had been ugly. We were 3–7. It was the first and only time in my life, I’ve ever had a losing season. I figured out, I hated losing, and worse, I didn’t know how to change it.
Then I met Coach Tamm.
After my losing season in seventh grade, I wrote on a notecard, “Make varsity as a freshman,” but really, I was just a lost kid looking for something to hold onto, for something to become.
It was the summer of 1994 and I was leaving Flint, Michigan for good. My parents were divorcing. It was a messy time. Okay, it was worse than messy. It was chaos. And I was an impressionable kid. I needed some role models. Some work ethic. Some discipline. Instead of face the truth, I sat in my bedroom and pretended none of it was happening. I would sift through my Upper Deck and Topps basketball cards and look at Magic Johnson or Jordan NBA Superstar videos. I would lay in bed and let these images and dreams replay in my head.
Parents splitting up can really do a number on you as a kid. You feel responsible. You feel alone. You feel scared. All I really wanted was something to help me forget what was happening.
Kids can have a hard time accepting something they can’t change, especially when it comes to their parents splitting. Luckily, I had the game of basketball as an outlet for my anger, rage, and resentment. Basketball was joyful to me. It was something I loved to do, to feel, to see, to watch, to talk about, to think about, to breathe. My dad used to tell me:
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”