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Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Maybe I’m not worth a billion dollars or have a mansion with 10 cars in my garage. But right now I’m doing exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it. I’m traveling the world, and I guess I have my mom to thank for it.
I grew up in south central Los Angeles. For the most part of my life I didn’t know the difference between someone who was Japanese or Chinese, mexican or Hispanic, not even if my life was on the line. All I saw growing up was black, a little bit of white, and mexican. Now that I think about it, growing up in a predominantly black area is a huge reason why I started hooping. Everyone else was doing it and I didn’t want to miss out. But one thing for sure that I remember is that my mom made it a point for me to travel.
Whether I was going back and forth to Fresno to see my grandparents or to a family reunion in Texas, she wanted me to experience the world. To be honest, I didn’t care one way or the other, but if it was up to me I would have stayed in the house playing video games. I remember when she was giving me yet another lecture, and for whatever reason I tuned in when she said “You need to go out and see the world, you can’t stay around here forever, not in my house”. Then I tuned right back out lol. I was a hard headed kid for sure.
When it was time for me to go to school, my mom took me away from all my friends and enrolled me into Ribet Academy in Glendale, CA. The first day, I felt so out of place because I had never been around so many different colors in my life. See, I was used to switching schools, that’s nothing. Up until that point I had been to 5 different schools. It wasn’t because I was bad or anything, actually……..I don’t really know why, but it was kind of cool because I made so many friends. But my point is, they were black like me at those other schools, not white, or asian…..armenian. I almost felt like I was on a different planet and stood out like a sore thumb because there were only like 7 black people in the school.
A week went by and I was done with that dumb school…told my mom I wanted to leave but she wasn’t having any of that. So I did what we humans are all capable of doing, I adjusted. Lunch time hit one day, a kid named Sarkis Terminasyan rolled out a ball and asked if I wanted to hoop. Of course I said yeah because it’s all I really knew how to do, it was my chance to relate to someone so I got all excited inside. So we started playing with some of his other friends, and let me just say, it was a massacre. I was fresh off a new and 1 mixtape that had came out so I was out there destroying everyone. This was the beginning of a friendship, I became cool in their eyes and I found them to be dope just for accepting me.
As I ventured further into my first year of high school, a shocking discovery was made, these guys were just like me lol. On the outside, our appearances couldn’t have been more different. Allen was asian, had straight spikey hair, relaxed eyes, yellow skin tone, Sarkis was armenian and had a huge nose, slick back hair, averaged sized ears, Lewis had just moved down from the south so the only thing that stood out to me was his southern accent, which took me a whole month to make out what he was saying. Eddy, was (asian) this heavy set guy with cool hair and wore glasses, and then there was me, wide nose, brown eyes, huge ears, big lips, and nappy hair. As much as we didn’t look alike, we all played video games, loved basketball, loved rap, wore baggy clothes 2 sizes too big, and were always cracking jokes. Summer came, and I had realized that I made friends for life. But traveling to glendale everyday from my house was wearing down on my mother, and just like that I transferred to another school(Price High School).
I was happy and sad at the same time because I was going back to my comfort zone, south central. But what I didn’t know was that my 9th grade experience was the beginning of something special.
I think if you know who I am, you know my story. I moved to San Francisco which is one of the most diverse cities in the world. But what you may not know is that I fell in love with a caucasian woman, one of my best friends out here is Asian who is married to a caucasian woman, I played on a team that had 6 different nationalities, and then I started training two little chinese kids who became my brothers. Crazy right? …well to me it is.
I get invited out to China which is a complete culture shock for me but I was ready for it at this point. I made friends faster than ever, I was willing to try their food no matter what people told me about it, and I wanted to live how they wanted to live. You know why? Because Eddie, Sarkis, Lewis, and Allen proved to me that no matter where you’re from, we can all enjoy things the same, but you have to be willing to accept the current situation in order to fully enjoy the experience.
This life has so much to offer but sometimes we ruin it by trying to stick to what we are used to. When I was young I hated thanksgiving dressing (stuffing), not because of how it tasted, but how it looked. But when I finally gave it a chance, it literally became one of my favourite foods. I hated house music when I was in high school because my friends thought it was stupid, not because of my personal experience. But now I listen to almost any genre of music because I give it a chance, and don’t let others shape my views on things. Experiencing, experimenting, adjusting……that’s living in my opinion.
And so now I’m on a World Tour, working hard and playing hard….All thanks to my mom for planting a seed early. If you’re still reading this, please go out and see the world…with friends, with family…or maybe even by yourself. There are so many beautiful places and people to see and you will never truly know until you get up and GO!
David, thank you to you and your family for treating Navin and I like brothers in Australia. You barely knew us and invited us into your home.
Ike, thanks for bringing us out to Thailand. The best night I’ve ever spent was a night on Phi phi island.
Mike, Dawn, and Zach, when a typhoon hit while we were in Hong Kong, you let Nav and I stay in your home. We could have been serial killers, but it shows how big of a heart that you guys have. I will NEVER forget that.
Winter and all of the guys I met at adidas, you guys have impacted my life forever. Sometimes I almost feel like I’m Chinese lol. My career wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for you guys. Thanks for believing in me.
Mo, Bernie, and Afiz, I remember pulling up to the airport in London, seeing you guys and thinking, man these guys are really awkward lol and I couldn’t make out what you guys were saying. Somehow that turned into us laughing for 4 days straight and Bernie slaving over a hot stove at midnight ….cooking up the best meal I’ve ever had lol. You guys will forever be family.
And to you, no matter where you are reading this from, thank you guys for supporting me every step of the way.