Monday, August 11, 2014

Definition of A Warrior by Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops

I was fortunate enough to closely follow the entire career of Alonzo Mourning.  Alonzo was just recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and it made me think about his amazing career.  I collected basketball cards as a kid and gravitated to Alonzo more because Shaquille O’Neal was getting so much attention.  Alonzo Mourning was Drafted #2 overall in the 1992 NBA Draft and would play his career as a 6-foot-10-inch undersized center.  

The original Charlottes Hornets franchise had a very young and exciting team with players like Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues.  It also didn’t hurt that they had awesome pinstriped teal uniforms and a very cool logo.  They were an expansion franchise and they were hip and stylish.  I rooted for the Charlotte Hornets from a distance over here in Boston and vividly recall a defining moment early in Alonzo;s career when he hit a jump shot from the top of the key during the playoffs to knock the aging Celtics out of competition.  

Alonzo was traded to the Miami Heat and I followed him there as a fan and recall some of the great and intense series they had with the New York Knicks.  Shortly after Alonzo arrived to the Miami Heat, he received some horrific medical news.  Alonzo Mourning was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).  FSGS is a rare, often fatal, and incurable kidney disease.  Most assumed that Alonzo Mourning would never play the game of basketball again, and a lot of individuals also believed that Alonzo wouldn’t be able to overcome FSGS.  Alonzo Mourning retired in 2003 as he went on the waiting listing for a kidney transplant.  Alonzo received a kidney transplant from his cousin, which ended up saving his life.  

Alonzo Mourning returned to the NBA and to the Miami Heat and won an NBA World Championship in 2006.  During game 6 of that series, Alonzo played some of the most inspired and energetic basketball you will ever see.  Please view the footage below.  

Alonzo Mourning’s journey is one that every basketball fan can be inspired by.  Alonzo could have easily accepted the news from the doctor and allow FSGC to mentally and physically paralyze him.  Alonzo overcame the disease, came back to the game he so desperately loved, and went out as a champion.  His fierce competitiveness and warrior-like mentality which he developed and learned on the basketball floor translated over to his personal life, and that was the key to Alonzo’s success.  To never give-up, and to never give-in.  He simply wouldn’t allow it.  That was the way he played basketball, and that was the way he lived his life. Alonzo Mourning’s story is one to learn from, and one to be inspired by as his will to not be defeated in sports, and in life, will always be honored, and admired.  

Located below is Alonzo Mourning Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.  It is filled with the same passion and desire that ran though Alonzo during his career. 

Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people.  Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.  

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