06 December 2011
A wise man once told me the place where we can find the most talent and ability is in the cemetery.
What he meant by that was this – most people go throughout their whole lives never releasing the gifts that have been placed inside of them. Every person has a unique talent. Some people are gifted in the area of music; some are athletic or even artistic. No matter what the area, we all have something inside of us that will set us apart from other people.
The other day I had a discussion with one of my teammates about the rapper Lil Wayne. His argument to me was that Lil Wayne has been given something that nobody else in the rap game has. If you have ever heard one of his songs or seen him perform, it is undeniable that he was born to make music. From his presence, to his lyrics, to his delivery, every part about who he is makes him successful at what he does.
But, he was not always that good. If you trace his career back to his early days, he was just another young rapper trying to make it in the industry, another voice laid over a track. Back then, Lil Wayne was not a superstar by any means. You would not find him on “ESPN 1st and 10” or in box suites at the Super Bowl.
About a month ago, I watched the Michael Jackson movie, “This Is It”. I was so impressed with the magnitude of the final tour Jackson was preparing. He showed why he was the greatest Pop icon of all time. His knowledge of music was extensive. His work ethic was intense. It was evident in the film that he was a perfectionist; he needed everything to be done a certain way. But the greatest thing I took away from that movie was this: Michael Jackson was a man who took his talent (of singing and dancing) and maximized his abilities to the highest potential. Even when he reached that point, he was not satisfied.
That is what my teammate noticed in Lil Wayne. It was not his talent that made him one of the greatest rappers of all time and one of the most recognizable figures of our generation. It was the honing of his skills -- the long hours of hard work, a work ethic that surpasses the norm. You see it in all the greats. Kevin Durant said it best:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
Hello, my name is Josh Young. I am a 23-year-old professional basketball player from Lawton, Oklahoma. Currently, I play in Germany’s Beko BBL for the Walter Tigers Tubingen. This is my second consecutive season in Deutschland. Last season, I played in the Pro B for the Bayer Leverkusen Giants, which gave me exposure to the first league. Germany has become like a second home to me. I have been blessed with an amazing situation here in Tubingen. When you love what you do, and you always have positive people around you, blessings become very evident. However, the beginning of the season was rough on our team. We entered BBL play as the youngest team in the league. A lack of experience proved to be fatal for us early, losing our first six games.
People used to tell me that losing builds character. I can’t say that I agree. What I do believe is that how a person responds to losing (or defeat) can build character. If this is true, then we have a group of guys whose character has shown bright in adversity. We snapped a six game losing streak by winning 4 of the last 5. It is amazing what can be done when you get everyone on the same page. We have a group of guys that just want to be successful together. I am excited to see what the rest of the season brings.
Basketball has always been my favorite sport. Ever since I can remember, I have loved the game. Dreams of winning championships, hitting buzzer beaters, becoming the best, have plagued my mind for over two decades now. Trash cans laundry bins, and upper doorposts have played the role of a “hoop” for years. I have experienced many successes and accomplishments throughout my young career.
I realize that I have been given talent in this sport. Like Lil Wayne and Michael Jackson, I am now trying to maximize my potential to capacity.
Playing overseas at a high level will help me do that. It is not just enough to possess a gift. If someone buys you some clothes, the best way to say thank you is not by saying with your mouth “thank you.” The best way to show gratitude is to wear what has been given to you -- or in other words -- put it to use. I am putting to use what God gave me. You never will know how good you can be at something if you are not first willing to make the sacrifice and put in the work.
Remember -- you have been given an ability. It is up to you what you make of it. God bless.
Josh Young is professional basketball player for Walter Tigers Tubingen in Germany’s Beko BBL. A graduate of Drake University, Young is in his second season playing overseas after spending last year with Bayer Leverkusen Giants in Germany's Pro B division. His column "Young At Heart" column runs regularly on Beyond and the Beat. You can also follow Josh Young on Twitter at @ForeverJAYoung.
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