Motivated by competition, crowds, supportive fans and the overall action that comes with playing a sport, Garnett Thompson has been playing basketball since the age of 11 when he first realized he had the talent to play.
As a child growing up in Far Rockaway, Queens, Thompson’s dad would always take him to the park to play basketball with him. Thompson expressed that throughout this time, he was young, narrow minded and was all about just playing basketball; however, as the years went on, he realized that it was more than just a game – it was a lifestyle. “I’ve experienced so many things, cultures, and countries by playing basketball, says Thompson. “It has definitely helped me become a well-rounded person.”
Starting from college, Thompson was on a high. He was coming from a junior college being 1st Team All-American, Juco Player of the Year and getting a scholarship to Providence University. While attending Providence, Thompson didn’t receive the playing time he thought he would, leading him to transfer schools with only one year left to play college ball. After finding out that Providence had released him from the school but not his letter of intent, Thompson did not get to play his entire last year, hurting his chances of going to the NBA.
Fortunately, Thompson was chosen to play for the Harlem Globetrotters the following year. Though this was a great experience, deep down he wanted to play professional basketball elsewhere. Deciding to try out for a professional team overseas the summer of 2003, Thompson injured his knee during the tryout. Before really getting his professional career started, he was already facing 2 years of not playing basketball due to this injury.
In 2005, Thompson’s friend, professional basketball player Chudney Gray, was able to help out by getting him an opportunity to play in Poland during preseason. While playing, Thompson dislocated his shoulder which placed a pause on his career yet again.
Having to endure many injuries and setbacks, not once did Thompson think about quitting. “With all that happened, I just kept at it until I was healthy enough to play. Thank the Lord that 8 years later I’m still playing.”
After all he’s been through, asking Thompson what advice he would give to someone who is on the verge of quitting seemed like the perfect thing to do. “Patience is the key. Never give up on your dream of playing pro ball. Some have it easy and some have adversity. When there’s a struggle, you appreciate it more when you finally do make it. Never let the next person tell you what you can’t do because at the end of the day no one can deny a hard worker.”
For those kids who think the NBA is the only way to go or that your career is over once injured, Thompson has certainly proven otherwise. “If you’re great, it doesn’t matter what school you go to. If the NBA wants you they’ll keep their eye on you no matter where you go. If you don’t achieve the NBA goal, you can always play professionally in different countries. There’s only one NBA but there are seven continents with many countries in each, full of professional basketball leagues.”
So what’s next for Thompson? Outside of basketball, currently playing in the Middle East, Thompson has been weight training for some time now. Once basketball is all said and done, he hopes to continue training, making it a full-time job.
Written by Erica Wright
Continue to follow Garnett Thompson career