Basketball is a global phenomenon.
Sadly, so are poverty, hopelessness and crime.
Samardo Samuels was one of a half dozen players working out for Raptors brass, Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre Practice Court.
He has seen all of the above.
Samuels is 21, seven years removed from his childhood in Trelawney, Jamaica. His mother, father and three siblings still live there.Samuels was confident he opened some eyes in Toronto.
“It was a good workout. I think I did really well. I have been working out a lot and working on stuff I didn’t get to show in college where I was a low post player. I showed that I can mix it up and that I’m not just a back to the basket player.”“When I go back and see the things, the guys I used to hang with and the way we were living, it makes me thankful to have gotten the opportunity to play basketball in the ninth grade,” he said.
“That’s why I don’t take any days off. A lot of guys would love to have the opportunity that I have and to be in my shoes. That just made me work hard, when I go back and see that.”
“The future was not bright. I will put it like that. I wasn’t big on school; I was missing class, not going to school a lot. Basketball came into my life and turned everything around. I thank God for that. I am a strong believer in God. He does things in mysterious ways.
“Opportunity comes but once. It was like, my Mom said ‘you are 14 years old, you’ve got to go there and make us proud. I never forgot those words. All I have ever thought about was making them proud.”Mike Ulmer's Blog“Safety, that’s my number one priority. With the news, the bad publicity, the crime, I want to prove something good can come out of Jamaica so that’s known not just for crime and violence but good athletes."
“Over the last month he has worked on his condition, really worked on going down the court,” said Jim Kelley, the Raptors senior director of player personnel. I think he’s made some really great strides in that part of his game.”