I quit the basketball team my senior year of high school because I wanted to get high.
I told my head coach it was because I needed to focus on recruiting, but that wasn’t the full truth.
I had already accepted a scholarship; I just wanted to blaze up after school and do hood rat stuff with my friends.
I wanted to feel free.
One time, I ate mushrooms and went to Brands Mart USA. The entire store was like a neon factory of highlighted sales deals.
Everything was labeled in bright yellow and green. Everything shouted:
“BUY ME! I’m a LOW PRICE!”
I couldn’t distinguish what “low” actually meant…cause, like, everything was low.
I needed something to do with my hands, so I started browsing video games.
A clerk asked if he could help me with anything.
“Ummm…Nah…I’m just looking at this.”
I handed him a video game, looked up at him expectantly, and slowly backpedaled away. I think he thought I was trying to steal something.
I found my friend a few seconds later. He had secluded himself in the stereo room. His arms were pressed against a wall and his head tilted towards the speakers.
I stood next to him and emulated his exact posture.
It felt right.
Another time, we loaded up a van with paintball guns and drove past a gaggle of dudes playing football on our High School practice fields.
We opened up the side door of the van and unloaded hundreds of paintballs in their direction.
The dudes scattered.
One guy fell flat on his stomach and started shouting Ron Burgundy quotes at the top of his lungs.
I don’t think he got hit, but I can’t be sure.
Another time, a friend of mine picked me up after school in a blue Crown Victoria with spotlights on the driver side. It looked like an undercover cop car.
I borrowed a friends jailhouse jumpsuit, put on a bright orange beanie, and handcuffed myself.
I sat in the back seat while we drove to a stop sign in my parents neighborhood.
We were in line behind 2 mini vans and a school bus while a Chevy Suburban waited behind us.
I kicked open the backseat of the door and jumped out.
I ran in front of the line of cars and went full retard. I flailed my shoulders, whipped my head back and forth, and pranced off into the woods.
My friend pulled out of the line, bypassed the cars, and maneuvered around traffic to pursue me.
I didn’t look back. I had to focus on my momentum.
Have you ever seen a penguin run?
Replace the penguin with a jumpsuit wearing 6’3’’ ginger in handcuffs and you’ll get the picture. Its damn difficult.
He picked me up 15 minutes later on a side street.
Afterwards, I went over to a friends house and got stoned. And then, I totally forgot about it…
I got back to my folks house that night and went to sleep.
The next morning, my mom told me that our neighborhood was on lockdown because a fugitive escaped into the woods.
I didn’t spit up any milk, but that’s cause I wasn’t drinking any. I don’t drink milk.
But if I had been, I’d have spit up all over the floor.
She told me that a friend of hers had slept in the same bed as her children to protect them.
Whatever “prank” we were trying to pull had worked. I mean, we hadn’t even thought of what “could” happen, we just thought it would be really funny.
And it was.
There were a lot of things that happened because I quit the basketball team my senior year. I mean, I mostly just got stoned and listened to “Stadium Arcadium”.
I just wanted to feel free, and back then, I only “expected” what I now know for sure…
Being a scholarship athlete is tough.
I wanted a chance to experience freedom before I committed to the regulations provided by an NCAA sanctioned scholarship.
A scholarship that required me to show up for workouts, study hall, practice, and class.
It’s what I had always wanted. It’s what I had worked for.
I wanted to attend college and I believed doing so would allow for more freedom.
I was wrong.
And even though I was afforded an opportunity to get an education and “provide” for myself…
I never truly felt free.
I’ve since learned…
True freedom is the ability to accept where I’ve been, and then make a conscious decision to do something different.
To do something better.
I wasn’t free when I was doing hood rat stuff with my friends, or, when I was attending university on a football scholarship.
I was alive. And I’m alive now, but its different.
Its different because in any given moment, I can forget preconceived notions of what is expected, and take action towards the things I love.