After my first Blog post, I received a request from a Mr Sam Sisley (A fellow Freestyler who I've never met but feel like I've known for years) asking for a post all about how & why I started Freestyling in the first place. Sam, thanks for all your support and positive comments over the years, this ones for you.
I picked up a Basketball for the first time in a P.E lesson, I learned quickly and was quite the natural, I was then asked to be on the schools Basketball team, after that initial taste of the game, I went to my local park to get in some extra practice. Little did I know, my local park was the Basketball hot spot of my city. The court was jam packed with ballers playing full-court games with teams waiting at the side ready to replace the loosing team. The flamboyant dunks & mesmerizing moves from these players were just incredible. The Breakdancers set up just outside the Basketball court and worked on their skills, jammin' to the music which you could hear from the Basketball court. Any time someone performed something spectacular, whether it was a move, dunk or breaking move, the whole park erupted in awe. The bigger the move, the bigger the hype. The culture & atmosphere captivated me, it was safe to say, I was hooked!
Being young & new to the game, I wasn't good enough to play with these fully grown men just yet. I just watched from the sidelines with my mates and worked on dribbling the ball, trying to imitate some of the skills from these players. Not before long, I was showing off my skills to all my friends at school, after a while I was even getting noticed at the park for how speedy my "spider dribble" became.
The players at the park would film themselves, capturing their best highlights so that they could create a Mixtape, and you'll never guess who they asked to feature on the tape... ME!
That 20 minute VHS tape filled with hip-hop, hype and highlights was the coolest thing I had ever seen. You could even buy it in the local sports store. Although I got a free copy because of my 5 second "Spider dribble" feature.
I was unbelievably proud of that tape. Then the guys told me that they were planning to make a volume 2 the next year & if I practiced some new tricks and skills, I could have my own section. I mean, you can imagine my excitement. MY VERY OWN SECTION!!!
I practiced and practiced and worked on new moves, until I eventually had quite the repertoire. Before you knew it, we were filming for Volume 2. When Mixtape Volume 2 came out, I was introduced as a player and was one of 5 who had their very own Freestyle section. As the first Mixtape was a success, Volume 2 was available on DVD in HMV nationwide. I then started to build a reputation for myself with other young players reaching out to me and claiming me as their favourite player as they could relate to me being of similar age.
The buzz was crazy & like something I had never experienced before. I decided that I didn't want to wait a whole year until I could do it all over again. So I sat down and wrote a very long list of tricks I couldn't do yet. I practiced all the time & when I felt like I was ready. I captured all these moves with my very good friend behind the camera. I then put together a video of my own and posted it on YouTube.
That post received 10's of thousands of views and drew a lot of attention, which was extremely exciting, especially as a 15 year old! I received an email from a gentleman, who said that he was impressed with my skill set, from the video he saw and invited me, to perform at an event he was putting on, he even offered me a small performance fee. I accepted his offer of course and now after this added incentive, I spent as much time as I possibly could putting in the work, practicing to make sure I didn't make any mistakes during my show. The day came and it was safe to say that the hard work paid off. It was a success! Lots of people approached me with congratulations and positive comments. I felt like a superstar, I never knew that Basketball Freestyle could make me feel like that. Then I received cash from the gentleman who booked me, I nearly forgot as I enjoy it all so much. But then, just like a cartoon, a light bulb appeared above my head. If I made more videos and sent them to event companies and business's, maybe I could do this more often and I could use my new found skills to build a career, doing what I love... So that's exactly what I did!
Basketball Freestyle has taken me all over the world, city to city, meeting some of the most well known celebrities & some of the most talented people in the world (many of which, I call friends). Freestyle has given me the greatest experiences, stories and inspiration. I'll tell you about a those in another blog post.
Thank you Freestyle and EVERYONE who has been involved.