Sometimes in life you have to be ready to drop everything and chase your dream. It doesn’t matter what your passion is, if it’s something that you really love then you will be willing to do whatever it is to attain that goal. All throughout my playing career I was under the assumption that because of my greek heritage I would be able to obtain a greek passport and continue my playing career in Greece. I finished up the season and started the process to get this passport wrapped up so I could sign with a club. I had already signed with an agent and he was telling me that as soon as I got all the documentation there were 2 or 3 clubs that were interested in signing me. Unfortunately, what I found out is that it is extremely difficult to get a greek passport and it was going to take a long time. I was pretty upset about the whole situation and figured my basketball days were numbered. I talked to my agent and he said it would be easier to get things done if I was in Greece.
So that being said, I booked a one way ticket to Greece with no contract, no place to stay, and without knowing a single person in the entire country…but I was ready to take a risk to chase that dream.
I landed in Athens after a 10 hour flight and met my agent’s european partner who treated me to McDonald’s and let me know I had to catch another flight to Thessaloniki. I don’t have a problem with flying but 11 hours on a plane is brutal and I was exhausted. The good thing was I had finally made it but the bad thing was I had to go and practice as soon as I got there. I was working out with a club named ARIS, they were a first class organization to say the least. They provided me with a hotel room, meals, transportation and a little cash while I was in town. Now let’s get back to this whole practicing after flying 11 hour debacle, I showed up and gave it everything I had but there wasn’t much left in my tank after all that travel. Needless to say it was not one of my better practices but I made it through and things started to get better and better each day. As the time passed I was playing well, I got along with all the guys on the team well, and I was in a beautiful city, things couldn’t be more perfect. The whole time I was there the GM of ARIS was working on my passport for me. I was in Greece for a few weeks when the club let me know that they weren’t going to be able to secure a passport for me and my time was drawing near. I was upset because I loved the city and the club but I knew they had done all they could for me and it was a great experience. To back track a little bit, I had been trying to contact my agent for about 2 weeks and couldn’t get a hold of him; no phone calls, no emails, nothing. I was trying to figure out where I was going next and what my next move should be and I couldn’t get a response. The GM called me to his office and asked me when my return flight was, I kind of laughed and told him “I don’t have a return flight, I didn’t plan on leaving.” He appreciated my confidence and they took care of a flight home for me, like I said they were a first class organization who went out of there way to help me.
I went to the gym to say my goodbyes and thank everyone for giving me that chance. It was actually the first time I skipped a practice, I wasn’t getting paid for it so I didn’t have to suit up that afternoon. I hopped in the car they had given me and I just started to drive around the city. I really had no idea where I was going or how to get home, I just drove. I experienced the sights and sounds of Greece that day, I remember parking and just walking around areas I had never been to before and I had a moment were I realized what my reward had been. It was the experience that made it all worth it, I had gotten to do something that very few people get an opportunity to do and even though I didn’t sign a contract that day and I was coming back to the States, I tried it.
Go out and take that risk, and take it without the fear of failure because even in failure you experience some of the greatest rewards.