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  • growing up in the city of Baltimore was challenging, you know, as a kid, you know, it was a lot of drug infested areas in our neighborhood, A lot of shooting, a lot of violence.

  • Unfortunately for me, at the age of five, you know, I got shot, you know, being outside, being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • You know, things gonna happen once you go outside the door.

  • And for me, you know, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • A fight broke out.

  • They bust the old man Chester's window.

  • He decided to come outside wreak habit.

  • We went in this shed and grab his double barrel shotgun and just started firing into the crowd amongst all these kids.

  • And it's like I said, unfortunately, I was one of the kids that got hit.

  • No one felt like they had no one thought.

  • They have a life expectancies past 20 you know, And then, which was very strange, you know, knowing that that was the case.

  • But that was the mindset back then because I had a lot of guys at ah, young age dine, uh, mainly because, you know, they wanted that fast money.

  • They wanted to get into that world a lot sooner, And they wonder, Possibly take care of that family as well as want something good to tryto provide for that, you know, for their household.

  • So, you know, people did all sorts of things in terms of trying to make ends meet.

  • But, you know, that was again.

  • That was the neighborhood in the atmosphere that we grew up there.

  • Well, luckily that we had a game called basketball and sports sports was really a mechanism that kept us really at a safe, kept us where it gave us a safe haven place to really feel comfortable with football.

  • Baseball, basketball ran track.

  • I was a wrestling way.

  • Had a lot of sports take place in the neighborhood.

  • So you had different neighborhoods, Uh, you know, competing against one another.

  • And we had all sorts of sports.

  • So there was a way of keeping us, you know, off the streets, keeping out mind, you know, active in other areas, as opposed to thinking about Hey, it's time to try toe over and get the feel of those quick dollars.

  • But sports was, uh, you know, it was a place where it really kept a lot of kids say, you know, at that time, I had no inkling or no idea that, you know, I want to pursue this as a career.

  • You know, it's just a hobby.

  • It was just something that I wanted to do many days and many nights going home, just crying to my mom and just telling them how cruel the kids are out there.

  • And you know how many they were, you know, And, uh, but she was always, you know, always quick to say that I had no idea what basketball was about.

  • But she was quick to say they know Thai was tied for her at the time.

  • You know, tired, they don't let them, you know, take your joy.

  • If you like playing basketball, you go out there and play, you know, no longer been expert in your life.

  • They don't know how big your heart or you know what?

  • Your capabilities off.

  • You wanna play, you just go out there, play.

  • And at the time, I didn't know what that man I'm like.

  • Yeah, OK, Mom.

  • But you know those things Then register at the time, you know, I just focus more or less on the kids being so mean and cruel towards me and because I was trying to pursue a game that they thought was meant for taller players saying Small got a lot of criticism from it, you know, a lot of backlash, a lot of name calling, you know, which could affect which confidence 53 was it.

  • You know, I knew that I wasn't gonna grow much taller up.

  • I never wished that I was all 10 11.

  • You know, I started learning the game.

  • I start understanding the game.

  • I was being taught by a gentleman by Leon Howard, who was the director of Direct Racial Center.

  • He took myself and Reggie Williams, who was blessed to going on play in the NBA.

  • Aziz, Well, one of the four guys come out of high school was fortunate to playing high play in the NBA, but he and I was a kid.

  • I was just sponges.

  • The game really change and slow down in my mind, and I started really believing that, you know, I could play this game one day, you know, possibly go to college.

  • Wasn't thinking about N B.

  • A at the time, but it was thinking about possibly going to high school and getting a college education from it.

  • And it means to turn the narrative of my family's.

  • I just wanted to play basketball, you know, whichever way.

  • As it had been a Division two, I've probably been satisfied.

  • But knowing the type of kid that I wasn't who I was in the competitive type of person, I wanted it all.

  • You know, it wasn't just gonna satisfied, satisfied with what someone else had planned for me.

  • You know, I want to create my own destiny, and I start to understand that I was in position to do that.

  • And, you know, when I became 12 and 13 years old, you know, words never matter.

  • You know, It came in one day out the other.

  • You know, I was on the journey.

  • I was on my path, trying to become this basketball player, that no one felt like he had any, you know, any opportunity to do so Because at the time, culture was still in the mindset of big are trying to break down those barriers, you know, trying toe break the mindsets of these coaching on that.

  • I know that, you know, I could be just as impactful, You know, as at this size and run your program just being be just as effective as a hologram.

  • You're short, you know, you need to be sitting on the curb which feet swinging off.

  • You know, we could put you in the drawer when we're traveling.

  • You know, growing up as a kid when they say sticks and stones may hurt your bones, the world with words will never hurt you.

  • It's not true.

  • Words will hurt you.

  • Now they're killing folks.

  • So where is a very powerful, very powerful.

  • So the thing is about getting within yourself and understand who you are, Thio kind of, you know, walked off those negative comments that's coming toward you because your heart, you know it measure it pretty much.

  • Doesn't have a height to it, you know, pretty much set the tone of who you are and what you're able to accomplish, you know, And the height factor was the game of basketball.

  • So, you know, my heart was bigger than my height, so I didn't have no no second or no no hang ups on believing that I belong with, you know, the best of the best, you know, because my heart was just, you know, just as biggest.

  • There's that 12 pick and here in the Washington Bullets, selected Tyrone Muzi balls.

  • You know, basically a place in my backyard where I grew up Being from Baltimore, you know, the way that the world was lifted off the shoulders that day, You know, you felt like, Hey, you know, this is what you've been strong for for so long, and, well, it changed out complete narrative.

  • Uh, there he is now, the shortest player in the NBA way no longer was, you know, in the lower income bracket.

  • You know, I was fortunate enough, toe get my mama, You know, house, get out the projects and my dad and my sisters and my brothers.

  • And we was able Thio, you know, live a better life.

  • You know where it wasn't this challenging as it once was when you know, when they was growing up.

  • So, um so that was something that I was pretty much I was truly proud of that I was able to do that for our family and Andi have been very supportive.

  • You know all every step of the way.

  • So I was so thankful that I was in a position there to do that.

  • If you're 5 ft three, you're one out of seven billion.

  • There never been a guy your size who did it like that.

  • You know, as a kid, you know, you're not as strong you know as you are as an adult.

  • So when I was a kid, you know, those things was very hurtful.

  • And then, you know, that was very deterrent at the time, but it didn't distract.

  • Um, I think I was born this way, you know, with the idea to take on those type of challenges.

  • The face of the other things that happened happened to me in my life, allowed me toe reflect allowed me to, you know, to resonate who I am.

  • Especially when I got shot.

  • You know, those things became so clear in terms of Hey, I almost wasn't here, you know?

  • So why I have to worry about what someone else say That hurt me and deteriorate me from becoming who I wanna be.

  • So you know, that changed my mindset.

  • You know, I remember early on when I used to go down on the court with my basketball and hearing all the words and having all the, you know, the criticism about me being short.

  • Um, but after I got shot, I remember going back down there and hearing those same criticism about myself, but they didn't have the same impact, you know, it went in one in and out, as I alluded to earlier.

  • So I think that has something to do with it.

  • You know, I had a lot to do with my mindset in terms of you know what I thought What I believe Oh, at virtually always prepare you.

  • You have to go through those things in orderto see the light at the end of the time.

  • You know, I don't think anything is gonna just be like this throughout your life.

  • You know, you have to go through that difficult, overcome obstacle because it is a testament of your character, who you are and how you have to deal with certain things.

  • You know, they get yourself back on that playing field, grateful that those ableto take place and still striving to be the best I could be and, you know, going forward Hopefully I can carry some kid to be the best they could be, you know, as a kid, you know, that's what I had to go through.

  • You know, that's what I did.

  • But keeping that positive message in my end, knowing that I can and knowing that, you know, no matter what anybody else thought I believe.

  • And that's what I want every kid to understand how to feel good about themselves.

  • When you look at that mirror and you look at that reflection back, not like yourself.

  • Love yourself.

  • I was small.

  • I was different from all the other players, you know, it felt like I had to just to them.

  • But really, they had to adjust to me because they never seen a guy my size playing against them.

  • Once they got the ball not at half court, but and 94 ft assumes they take it out and make them work to get across half court.

  • So all those little things that I had to do that I did, you know, allowed me to be, you know, still impactful and change the game in that regards toe, where now my height is not being discussed.

  • So much.

  • Okay?

  • You look at whatever your weaknesses.

  • You've got to try to turn into a strip and not look, Let them know that this is a weakness.

  • And the way I had it is in the way I look Did it was that you know, guys see you small.

  • They feel like it could post you up.

  • I knew that.

  • God's one comfortable playing with that back towards the basket, having that understanding, having higher cure The game allowed me also to be at the would be very impactful So where guys couldn't feel like they was taking advantage of me I don't care how small how big you are that skill set Don't match up with you leading and how you leading You know everybody's gonna be second guess you calling you out?

  • I got I gained the respect of the guys because they knew and they felt like I was a true later and I was leading us in the right direction.

  • I was extension of the coach keep playing, keep playing.

  • But why you plan learn all the neons is all the information that comes with the game of basketball.

  • Don't settle for what someone think that you should be doing understand what their position is.

  • Because if you're undersized to God, all right, and you're undersized point guard or your small guard, then you still have the ability to play the game.

  • It's just a matter How can I be impactful on that team?

  • What I need to do to be impactful and not stand out as a liability.

  • And I continue to be an asset in your life and can't escape anything that goes on with life.

  • You know, we are not immune problems, drama, trauma, tragedy.

  • You know, we all, uh, here as human beings.

  • So you know, when you're going through some sort of difficulties, you know, first find out whatever that difficulty, Maybe, you know, for me, I like toe pray like to give it to the man upstairs and get strength from him within your power in terms of how to start slowly, you know, get yourself out of that situation.

  • But for one, you know, you give it to the man, you know, you do all within your power, and, uh, you believe you'd be optimistic about it.

  • You know, vein negative about a situation stand in that place it never helps.

  • You know, it's nothing wrong with understanding that place.

  • Feeling bad about it, looking at it for what it is.

  • Don't stay there.

  • Got to get back on that other side and start looking at the resolved resolution of how can I get back to fill it good and feeling prosperous again.

  • So where I'm not dealing with this obstacle, you know, anything is possible.

  • Positive thinking is also translates it all.

  • You know, we always no matter what the situation with the situation is we're gonna try to look for the outcome.

  • The better that situation.

  • We can't find a resolution to get out of it.

  • You know, we're gonna keep on searching the continue to try to find a resolution to get out of, because that's what you dio, you know, that's how you get to the bottom of that's how you get to the facts and the acid.

  • Don't give them that platform.

  • Don't give him the ammunition.

  • That's their opinion.

  • Don't mean that it's true about who you are.

  • So that's one of the reason that's what I wanna start this.

  • Reach one.

  • Teach me because I wanna make sure that every kid bleeds themselves going forward throughout life.

  • We all human beings, you know.

  • So that's one of the main message I would love to get out to any everybody that's out there.

  • Everything happened for a reason.

  • No regrets.

  • All the negative things that happened.

  • I'm thankful for it because I learned hopefully I learned from those situations.

growing up in the city of Baltimore was challenging, you know, as a kid, you know, it was a lot of drug infested areas in our neighborhood, A lot of shooting, a lot of violence.

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