“For me, Love the Game means appreciating the sport and valuing every opportunity it gives you to succeed in life,” says professional ball player Derek Williams.
Derek Williams has been playing basketball for three years and feels blessed to be able to say he has loved every experience of it.
Williams started his career in Latvia where he played for Vef Riga and the Riga Barons. In his second year, he started out playing in the NBA Development League for the Texas Legends followed by an opportunity to return to Europe where it all began. While there, Williams played in Turkey with a team called Gelisim. After doing so well, he decided to return to the same country, playing for a different team called Maliye Milli Piyango.
Williams knew he had a passion for basketball when he tried out for his high school team. Although he would be frustrated at games due to the fact he couldn’t play because of ineligible grades, this never discouraged him. He remained focused with the help of friends who gave him the tools and confidence he continues to have today. In addition, he knew this was the career he wanted to pursue. “Whether you’re just starting out or on the verge of quitting, it’s important to keep grinding and remaining focused on your goals,” says Williams. “Why quit? Quitting is so much easier than working on mastering your craft. Things will only get better the harder you work.”
While learning the game and growing within the sport, Williams says his biggest obstacle was gaining confidence and motivation for himself. “At the end of the day you have to be able to get out of bed and head to the gym on your own – no one can force you to do that.”
Basketball has helped Williams grow in various ways. The sport has taught him discipline, patience and the ability to be more vocal in order to lead his teams better within his position of point guard.
Motivated by his family, his newborn son and the passing of his grandmother, Williams says his grandmother is his biggest influence and he always wants to do right by her. “Even though she’s gone, there’s not a day where I don’t think about her and how she has helped my mom and aunts raise me to be the man I am today.”
Next year, Williams looks forward to returning to Europe, keeping an open and positive mind and allowing God to guide his steps and handle the rest.
“It’s always good to push yourself to be able to compete at the highest level of competition (NBA), but as you get older you start to realize there are other great competitions going on. If you don’t make it to the league be sure to remember that there are limitless opportunities to follow your dream and play the game you love elsewhere.” – Derek Williams
Written by Erica Wright
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Playing professional ball four years now, Tyrell Biggs has been named team leading scorer, twice; has been a NBA Development League Eastern Conference All Star; has been invited to the Cleveland Cavaliers training camp; and has been named Cup Championship Runner-Up for MVP.
Biggs realized he loved the game of basketball at a very young age, impressed by teams in the 90′s such as the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic. In addition, Biggs was constantly around all types of sports including his grandfather who played basketball and softball, his father who played basketball, football and boxing, his older brother who played basketball and football, his uncle who was involved in martial arts and his grandmother who was involved in golf and bowling. Biggs recalls his family making sure he was at practice every weekend and dedicating all of their time to attend tournaments all over the city. ”A combination of my unconditional love for basketball and my unconditional love for my family is the reason I keep going,” says Biggs. However, a larger influence comes from his grandfather, who is no longer living, but definitely still living through Biggs. “He was a great man who was very wise and intelligent. He knew how to communicate and reach people in a special way. He was greatly respected and loved tremendously. I feel like he has taught me so many things without even realizing it and I love him for that.”
Growing up, Biggs would bend hangers into circles like a hoop and hang them from doors. He and his older brother would always play together, but when his brother wasn’t around, Biggs had no problem playing alone. He would even go as far as playing all five players on the team. “I feel like I was meant to love this game because I was introduced to it at such a young age.” Biggs would go to the courts during the summers to watch his older brother and uncle play. Seeing how hard they played and how much they loved the sport soon transcended to him. “Every chance I got I was trying to get a game going. I can remember one of my first times playing where some kids and I had to get a game going on the monkey bars because the older guys had the courts. We were that thirsty to play and that same love and passion has stayed with me until this day.”
Like most athletes, the college years seemed to be the most difficult and frustrating for Biggs, causing him to think about quitting. While attending the University of Pittsburg, Biggs was fed up with not receiving the amount of playing time he thought he should’ve been given. Making up his mind to leave the university and transfer to St. Joseph’s University, where his cousin was a walk on at the time, Biggs talked it over with his older brother first. Before making any major decisions, his older brother was always the go-to guy and voice of reasoning. The advice Biggs’ brother gave him can be used in any situation for anyone wanting to give up and throw in the towel. He told Biggs that if he went through with the decision he would be labeled a quitter, a title he would never be able to shake. He told Biggs to man up, fight through all the bull and just continue working hard in order to make things better for himself. After taking this advice in, Biggs decided to stay at his university and says it was the best decision he has ever made in life.
Because of this experience, Biggs is now able to give his own great advice to individuals who want to quit. “Think about all the sweat and time you’ve put into your craft. It’s not about what school you go to but about how hard you work and how good you make yourself. Stop blaming others, work hard, stay positive and be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight.” When it comes to youth particularly, Biggs states, “Youth are extremely important because they are our legacies and without encouragement and guidance they soon find themselves lost.” As an older guy who is still young, able to play and enjoy the game he loves, Biggs is always extending himself to younger players coming up. When they have questions about things they’re going through, he has no issue helping them out because he has already gone through those same issues.
Throughout Biggs’ four years, he has played in Greece for AS Trikala, Cyprus for Achilleas Kaimakliou, Isreal for Galil Gilboa, Canton Charge, an affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lithuania for Pieno Zvaigzdes. Throughout these experiences, Biggs has faced his biggest obstacle – his mind. “People don’t realize that a huge part in being successful in anything you do has to do with your thinking,” says Biggs. For him, he had to get over the doubts and negative thoughts that roamed his head while he was playing. Once he got his mind right, he was back on course.
Basketball has helped Biggs understand the true meaning of hard work and determination as well as knowing how to lead and inspire others with his words and actions. “I can see the optimistic side of every obstacle and problem that comes my way which in turn makes it easier to overcome things.”
Today, Biggs remains motivated by love – love for his family, his wife, God, his life and the game overall. “I love them all and always want them to be proud of me. Knowing that they will always love me back, no matter how good or bad I play, keeps my mind in a good place.”
Biggs states that basketball is giving him an experience and lesson in life that no other job or educational institution could ever give. “I can look at the faces of my family and know that I am making them proud – especially my father, brother and grandfather, who is no longer with me, but I know he is proud. I’m happy that all three of them know that the sacrifices they made were not in vein.”
Written by Erica Wright
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Love the Game is a New Jersey based sole proprietorship started in the summer of 2011 by Brawley Chisholm for both men and women. With a name that speaks for itself, Love the Game is a basketball skills development program whose objective is to instill passion and perseverance into the hearts and minds of young athletes, while also teaching and enhancing the art and technique of the sport.