This was not how he envisioned spending his early 20s.
H.’s love for collecting coins and scoring deals on antiques was always there. Nevertheless, the scoring he used to do was much more adventurous than flipping through guidebooks and grading coins.
Not much could compare to receiving offers to play professional basketball overseas. Except, perhaps, receiving invitations to try out for teams in the National Football League. He had both.
“I would say there was a mourning process of my career, said the former D-I athlete. “I needed to start accepting that I would need to get a job related to my major, instead of going overseas or playing in the NFL.”
After playing two years of Division III basketball, H. transferred to a Division I school. He admits that collegiate athletics are a big commitment, saying that having to balance schoolwork and a rigorous practice schedule is like a full-time job.
He made 65.0 percent of his field goals (FG%) for the 2013-14 season — which put him in the number one spot in his school’s record books for best FG% for any season. Then he got better, shooting 69.0 percent from the field, after transferring. Months later, he found himself attending physical therapy multiple times a week. He then got a job on Wall Street.
Although it might seem like a somewhat happy ending, it undeniably was not what he planned.
H.’s health was not something that he had to worry about for most of his life. There were minor injuries here and there, but nothing career-threatening until his time at the Division I school.
“I heard a pop in my back,” he said. “I knew something was wrong, but all of the trainers and medical staff, who I trusted, told me that it was nothing major.”
Under their guidance, H. continued to play and finished the 2017-18 season. Because he was lied to by his school’s doctors and training staff, H. was forced to forgo his dream of an athletic career by having back surgery. It got to the point where H. was “unable to perform simple tasks” on his own, such as tying his shoes.
H. was left with an unfortunately-timed injury and a lot of time on his hands. It was also the first time that he would have an issue with his health, which exacerbated the situation. H. made his physical and mental health a priority by making physical therapy a routine and using his negative energy to motivate him to meet and surpass various goals he set for himself.
H. attempts to focus on what lies ahead, rather than on what he was forced to give up.
But, not everything was H. putting his 6-foot-9 frame to and pushing through. There were road blocks he faced that he could not overcome by himself. “No one really understood what I was going through,” he says. Even a good support system, like the one he had, doesn’t make the isolated feelings go away.
“Staying busy helps,” he said. “I found more things to distract myself.”
The past few years have been busy for H. In 2017, H. graduated from with a bachelor’s degree in business and psychology. Just a year later, H. graduated with a Master of Business Administration in finance. He recently began working at an investment bank on Wall Street.
Acceptance is also key.
“He has accepted that he’s not going to play professional basketball, and he’s content and happy to begin working,” says someone close to H. “I would say he’s actually the happiest he’s been in a while.”
What does “normal” mean to H.?
“Being okay and content with who you are. Being happy with yourself.”