I started playing basketball with 12 years old in my hometown, I used to watch a lot of basketball before because my cousin is a professional player and I loved to watch him play, but never tried entering on a team before. My first year playing, my coach taught me the basic skills to play, two of my teammates was really good, so they basically carried us the holewhole season to the 3rd place on the under 13 regional tournament, and they decided to play for a club to a near city and I knew that next year I had to put the team on my back.
So that was what I did, I spend a lot of hours in the gym with my coach to get better and better. The season started and I make those hours in the gym pay off, my team did great in the tournament and we won the division 2 under 14 regional tournament that year with me being the MVP and Finals MVP as well, I did so well, that I received an offer from a club in the city of Sao Paulo, which is 3 hours away from mine, the club is called Esporte Clube Pinheiros, and has the biggest sports facility in Latin America, Pinheiros has a big tradition of sending athletes to the Olympic games in many different sports and also has a tradition of forming young professional players, my cousin went there with 18 years old and became a professional player there.
After receiving the offer, I was so happy of being recognized from such an enormous club like Pinheiros, but if I accepted it, I would have to leave my hometown, my house, my parents, and friends to it. My parents and I have a long talk about it, they put the pros and cons and I make the decision to accepted it and they supported because they knew that become a professional player is my dream and moving there was a huge step towards that dream.
On the beginning of 2014, me and my parents went to Sao Paulo to make a visit on the club and see where I am going to live and study. The city of Sao Paulo is massive, has around of 13 million habitants and it is the 9th biggest city in the world, the city is bigger than many states and even some countries around the globe. Pinheiros is located in the east part of the city, and where I was going to live was next to the club, the house was a hostel, where an old woman took care of, and the club got me a room there, and it was just 15 minutes walking from the club to where I lived, but the school was located on the extreme west part of the city, the school has a partnership with the club, and with other clubs around the city, which they give a scholarship to athletes from the clubs and the athletes have to play some games for the school too. My parents were kind of afraid at the beginning of let their 14 years old son to live in that big city having to do everything by himself, so do I, but we all knew what the best for my future was.
The routine was tough, I have to wake up every day at 5 am to be able to get to school before 7:20 am, have to take train and bus and walk a lot, after school, me and other players from the same club as mine went straight to the club where we have lunch, weight room, and practice, it was so exhaustive, I basically had to run the whole day, because school finishes at 1 pm and the club cafeteria closes at 3pm and sometimes me and the other guys didn’t arrive in time, and we didn’t eat, when we arrived on time, we have to eat as fast as possible because the team weight lifting was at 3:30, after practice and everything, I showered at the club and have dinner there too, and I arrives home around 10 pm, and repeat the same exhaustive and rushing routine everyday.
Some weekends I was able to go back home, usually, when we have games on Friday night, I take a bus back to my hometown and spend Saturday and Sunday home. Sometimes my mom didn’t have to work on Monday’s, so she drives me all the way to school, and usually we have to leave 4:30 am to get to school on time. Talking about school, at the beginning, I was following the routine, but one day, I was so tired, that I didn’t wake up and didn’t go to class, and I start to skip some days because I was tired and want to sleep more, by doing that, I lost too many content and my grades started going downhill.
As I mentioned on the beginning, the only reason to study in that school was because of the scholarship and partnership with Pinheiros and many other clubs around the city, so the school had a lot of 5 star athletes there, and we basically won every competition in every sport. When we formed our basketball team to go to the school’s national tournament, our team looked like an all-star team, the best players from different clubs of the city was together. Before traveling to play the tournament, the president of the school did a reunion with us and said “last year we lost the title on basketball, if you guys won the tournament, I will automatically put a B on y’all record and you guys will be approved, y’all don’t even have to come to class anymore”. I swear he said that, everybody looked at each other and thought that he was kidding.
It was September 21st and we travelled to play the tournament, we won every game by at least 20 points and won the national championship, I did well, everybody did actually. We come back and on the next school day the president called every player in his room, and he gave us our school record with everything he promised, and since them I didn’t went to class that year anymore. Just remembering that the school year in Brazil starts by the second Monday of February and ends by beginning of December. And of course, we didn’t tell anyone what the president said, classmates, teachers, club, even my family, they still don’t know about it, otherwise, they will get crazy, and that was the deal.
I still have to finish my basketball year with my club, we have 2 ½ months of tournament, my routine gets easier and I started focusing more on basketball, at that time, not going to school was good for me, but next year when I have to go back for one more year I was lost and have to study a lot to catch up what I lose.
Our team was in 2nd place in state, and the 1st place, was a team who won the past 2 championships without losing a single game. We played each other twice in the season, and both games we lost by 3 points, but we met again in the finals. They were in a 89 games winning streak and we played at their court, it was a tough game, really physical and technical for 15 years old kids, we won the game by 4 points. When that buzzer sounds, I never felt that emotion before, I was so happy and the first thing I do was running into the bleachers and hug my mom who was there watching, when I hugged her, everything that I went through that year came in my head and I started crying like a baby.
The year of 2014 was the toughest and most important one for me, I went to another city to live by myself, I was 14 years old, and I developed such a big maturity on that year, that was fundamental to growth as a person, I become independent earlier and I have been to a lot of stress that year, that I decided not to continue there, I moved to a club next to my hometown which I could play more minutes and be close to home.