Most people when growing up remember experiences with their siblings where they played basketball in the driveway. But not too many get to play with them on college teams.
This year, I got to play on a college team with one of my brothers. And not just another one of my brother — my biggest brother (specifically 6’10” tall).
The thing is, although we’re brothers, we’ve never had an opportunity to be on the same team.
My big bro is five years older than me, so while he was balling in high school dunking over people, I was chilling in middle school. This year, both my brother and I played for the Newman basketball team. I came in as a forward and Daniel came in as a center and of course the tallest player on the team.
Though this year has been the first and possibly the last chance we’ll have to play together, all our lives we’ve competed against one another. We would just battle in the driveway of our house. Tears were lost. Blood was shed. And glass was literally shattered. He would just back down me down and finish over the top of me. I’ll never say he dunked on me because is it really dunking when it’s over a child?
Back in those days, basketball was our way to push each other and measure who was truly the toughest. Some days were better for me and some were better for him but at the end of the day we still we’re mostly good sports through wins and losses.
Much like being in the driveway, this year has been a battle. There have been ups and down, highs and lows, mountains and valleys, whatever you want to call it. This being my first year at the collegiate level, it has been an adjustment. My day starts by getting up at 7 (sometimes 5) for workouts then going to class, eating lunch, going to practice, doing homework, then finally sleep. I get up the next day and do the same thing.
This cycle was tough for me and hard to get used to, especially with my big brother always chirping in my ear what to do. That definitely took some getting used to.
“Matthew, you gotta be 20 minutes early to class everyday!”
“You have to get 1,000 shots every morning!”
“Matthew, go and get me some Chipotle.”
Basically, my brother was trying to be my dad away from home and it was very annoying at first. Somedays, I tried to make sure I saw him the least amount of time I could. Of course, that didn’t last so long as we were on the same campus and in the same sport.
Yeah , the work was tough, but just like in the driveway, we pushed each other to be better. Whether I was on the bench watching him play or the other way around, we supported one another and brawled with each other everyday. We both gave our all to improve as not just basketball players but also as men. Even when I didn’t want to hear it, he kept me in line when I’d forget what I was here for. He was always available when I needed a late night run to Wendy’s, and believe me that’s been at least three times a week.
We’ve been able to see each other grow this year, and we as brothers have come closer together. To be able to have someone to walk with through this tough year has been amazing.
As children, we were together every day trying to flourish in different environments with different people.
This year, we’ve stood tall together and overcome as the year flew by. Although we’re not children anymore, Daniel will always be my big brother.
This story first appeared in the May 4th, 2017 issue of The Vantage