First Person Singular

(David Deal)
Sunday, March 23, 2008

I was always passionate about playing the game of basketball, but I had a lot of other distractions. The streets was one of them -- that was my major distraction. Peer pressure from some of the guys I was hanging around with was drawing me more to the streets than to the basketball court. I felt like, if I had resources when I was growing up, I probably would have been less vulnerable, [not] getting into trouble at a young age. There was always good in me. I was just surrounded by a lot of bad things.

When [I saw basketball] on TV, it was just so far-fetched. It's just like: Man, that's on TV. That's not real life.

When I was growing up, a lot of people, like counselors, used to come through and tell me about what was going on in the urban community -- about how we need to stop doing this and how we need to stop doing that. But I couldn't relate to them, so I didn't respect what they was saying. There wasn't no goal. Basically, just every day wake up, hit the block, hustle a little bit and try to make ends meet. There was nothing really written in stone until I got incarcerated. That's when I really started looking at the big picture, my life. That's really what did it: just seeing how bad I hurt my family -- my mother, my grandmother. And knowing that I had a child. I just had to cope with reality and get it right.

Whenever I put my mind to something and really put my heart in it, I feel like there's nothing that I can't obtain. And I've always been like that. That's why it was so hard when I wasn't applying myself, because that's the only time that I failed. [When the Miami Heat traded] me, I said, "A couple of years from now, they're gonna be like: We shouldn't have passed on this kid. He's special." And, you know, [four] years removed from that situation, that's what they're saying, We shouldn't have passed on that kid. It's real rewarding to me.

I feel like a lot of youngsters can relate to me; and they see, when I'm talking, I walk the walk and talk the talk. And they're like: You know, he did it. I can do it. You see so many people still going through so much. You try to give them as much hope as possible. You know, seeing is believing.

-- Interview by Cathy Areu

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