Dear 13 year old Jay,
When you get to DRIVE tryouts tomorrow, they are going to cut you, It may feel like the world is over when you receive the news, but it will be the best thing that ever happened to you. You’re going to break your wrist two week later playing 1 on 1 against your friend David Nicmans, at first you’re going to feel like your life is over, You didn’t make the travelling basketball team, so you decided to play baseball one last summer and you won’t even be able to play. It’s going to cut deep with you, but again it will be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Your team is going to qualify for the Cal Ripken world series, you’re going to go on the trip and stay at the billets house. You’re going to be accused of sticking up your middle finger to her and get kicked out. Your coach isn’t going to believe you and he’s going to make you stay in the hotel the rest of the trip. You’re not going to realize exactly what’s going on in the moment but as you grow older you’re going to realize this was the turning point of your life. This is the first moment you realized what racism was, you’re going to realize life is unfair and most people don’t want you to succeed.
Once you get home from the trip, you’re going to be scared as hell your parents are going to be mad and discipline you. You aren’t going to realize this situation broke their hearts, you have no idea you have already been through similar type situations - multiple times.
This was the last time you ever played competitive baseball and it’s time to get to work. You’re not a kid anymore, Jay, your dad is going to sit you down and tell you it’s time to pick a sport, and you’re going to pick basketball. Dad is going to tell you to reach for the stars and that I can go D1 if I really put my mind to it. I know at the time your wrist is still broken and this sounds crazy. You’re going to spend every day and night in your cul de sac dribbling with your left hand, doing left hand layups, you’re going to envision yourself playing in the NBA one day, days are going to turn into months.
While the other kids travelled all summer and got to play games you were working Jay. You’re going to have such a big chip on your shoulder that it’s going to be a blessing and a burden, that’s all you’re going to know. You’re going to have another chance to make the drive team during the u14 club season, you’re going to go to the tryouts and be the baddest motherf****** there. It is really going to piss people off Jay, but you’re too young, you're not going to realize, people who have been better than you your whole life are going to envy you. Parents are going to dislike you and throw in sly comments to try and undermine you. Don’t let it get to you, they don’t know all the things you’ve been through already. These guys on this team will become some of your best friends. That coach who is tough on you, he’s your future mentor. You’re going to go into grade 8 and kill everybody in high school. You’re going to get mad often, you’re going to realize most people in BC just play ball for fun. They don’t love it like you and that’s going to be hard for you to understand. You're going to have a lot of people tell you you’re too competitive and that’s going to hurt you. You’re not going to understand how they could say that, you’re going to realize they don’t get it. Learn to love that. Do not capitulate. It is your separating factor. It is your DNA.
You’re going to continue to grind everyday, those months turned into a year. When you go travelling all spring with your AAU team and realize you’re one of the better players on the west coast AAU circuit, let that reinforce your belief in yourself - IT'S WORKING. You’re going to move up to JV and go undefeated the whole season and then lose your first game of playoffs, you’re going to be furious. Again it’s going to feel like the world is over, it’s not. Stay the course.
As your name keeps growing you’re going to have people you don’t even know hate on you, say some awful things about you and it is going to hurt so bad. You’re not going to show anybody but it is going to cut deep, the joke is on them though. You are starting to develop toughness, this no longer breaks you. Around this time you will realize now you have to make it. This is where you prove everyone wrong, the time is now. age
Fast forward a year you are coming into 10th grade, you’re going to start liking girls Jay, really liking girls, you’re an innocent kid, but your friends aren’t. Your dad’s going to sit you down and have a conversation with you Jay, you have a decision to make. Be different, continue to chase your dreams, or be like everyone else and party and chase women. You’re going to pick your dream and it’s going to irritate some people. People you grew up with are going to hate, people are going to tell you no one’s ever went D1 in hoop from Langley, you’re going to laugh at them and tell them ‘just watch’.
You’re going to move up to the senior team as a 10th grader, and it will be a great experience for you, you are going to have 3 12th graders who are going to take you under their wing. Ethan, Charles, and Desean are going to teach you how to control the fire, the passion you have inside you. You’re going to learn how to lead from them, and it’s going to lead to a lot of wins. The team is going to allow you to flourish and be the best version of yourself, you are going to lead your team to the Provincials finals, something nobody expected from your team. You’re going to get to play against many great players to get there, Conor Morgan, Isaiah Solomon, to name a few, and your team is going to beat them. You’re never going to let them forget about it. You’re going to match up with Terry Fox in the finals. A team you had 35 on in the Fraser Valley Semi-finals, a team you beat 3 times. You’re going to go into half-time up 1 point, coming out in the third quarter the crowd is going to start chanting “overrated” to you over and over. They are not going to realize you love that shit, you’re used to it now it invigorates you. You’re going to hit a pull up three with 3 mins left to put you guys up 9 points. Victory will be hangin in the balance, but Terry Fox is going to make a huge comeback. There will be tough calls which lead to a six point swing, Terry Fox is going to go up 1 with 40 seconds. You’re going to score a layup to put your team back up. With 13 seconds left in the game you’re going to give an offensive rebound that they score on. You’re going to have 3 seconds to score and you are going to step out of bounds. You are going to lose in front of 5000 people, It’s going to hurt like crazy. Like nothing you have ever felt. Keep your head up - your support system loves you and supports you. Everyone is going to show you love, you ended the game with 25,8,8 - but I know that doesn’t matter, because I am you. You know you made 2 mistakes that cost your team the game. Instead of breaking you, it’s gasoline. You will be right back in the gym the next mother f****** day.
After the season you will feel empty, the fire you have inside you will grow bigger, You will get moved up to the Drive u17 team and get to play against Zach Lavine you will score 21 points, this is the defining moment when you know you will be a division 1 player. It is a great summer and come into your high school season with 1 thing in mind. You’re going to Win.
You come out in 11th grade killing, you drop 44 on Moaut and your boys Corey Hauck and Tristan Etienne, and you receive your first D1 offer from Portland. It will feel great, the next day you get to play against Findlay prep, little did you know you were playing against your future college coach.
Fast forward a few months you will win the provincial title, against white rock Christian you will be named Provincial MVP and you will be the most known player in BCHS basketball. White Rock will put up “Jadon Cohee travelled” on their school sign, it will get to your head and it will be the biggest regret of your career. You will take a few weeks off after the season and celebrate, all will still be good though you will go go play in 2 live periods and win both tournaments, one in Seattle, one in Houston, you will receive an offer from Seattle U and your head will get bigger. You will not grind like you always have and have a terrible July, you will lose 15 to 20 schools that expressed serious interest in you. It will be extremely humbling but you need it. After the AAU season you will commit to Seattle U a D1 school in the WAC. You did it Jay, but you know, you’ll always know you could have done more. You will never make that same mistake again.
You will play out your grade 12 year, and end up finishing 7th in the province, it will piss you off but at the end of the day you will end your high school career as the 3rd leading scorer of all time, and a top 25 player in BCHS history, none of this will matter to you, you’re trying get to the league.
You will go to u18 national team tryouts after being cut u16 and u17, they will cut you again Jay, it will hurt you feel like you were good enough to be on that team, but it doesn’t matter it’s time to go to school. You will arrive at Seattle U, and be the worst player there, it will hurt but you will also meet your best friend Jack Shaughnessy and y’all will grind every night, by the time the season starts you will be the 6th man on a team that was one game away from the NCAA tourney. The team will qualify for the CBI and you will lose in the final 4.
Your fourth time trying out for the national team, the u19 team, you will FINALLY MAKE IT!. it will feel great and you will start alongside NBA players Dillon Brooks and Justin Jackson. It will be an experience you remember forever as you never gave up.
Next up - Sophomore year. You head in with big expectations, unfortunately this will be the hardest and most frustrating year of your career, you won’t play well, you will lose your starting spot and it will hurt. You will blame everybody but yourself, you will realize you were still so young and immature, but you will grow from this.
You will decide to transfer to Southern Utah and go play for Coach Simon. You will get into a major car crash, that will total your car a week before you commit to Southern Utah, You will not tell your future Coach, because you are scared it will affect your career. You will be terrified he will take your scholarship. You will ask him if we can stay home for the Summer, you will tell him it is to spend some more time with the family, but in reality it was to give yourself some time to rehab your back. You will grind everyday to rehab your back, but over time it will continue to bug you and get worse, needless to say though. Regardless of this - stay the course - it will be the greatest career decision you have ever made. During your red shirt year you will grow up a lot, you’ll be lucky you have 2 coaches who are willing to work out with you every single day. Coach days and Coach Angelucci will make sure your game is right, they will all be hard on you. After a year of shooting 500 shots everyday you will transform your jumper and become a completely different player. It will finally be your time now.
Your redshirt Junior year will start against Oregon state in the Pac 12, you will have 21 points and shoot 18 free throws, you will feel so excited, you will feel as it is finally your time. in Non-conference you will excel Jay, 24 on UNLV, 25 on Long Beach St, 20 on Boise. Big game against Michigan State (you know that team you watched on TV in March every year). You will go into Christmas break averaging 16.7 and 4.9. You will start the conference schedule out with a 20 point game against Montana St. Everything will be going great, then you will play Montana and your back will be killing you, all the overcompensation for years will make you hurt your foot.
You won’t know what’s going on but it will really affect you. By mid January your numbers will have dropped to around 15 points a game, but a media outlet (Mid-Major Madness) will rank you as the 4th best Canadian at the D1 level and a potential player of the year. It will feel great but your foot will get worse. You can’t move the same and you will lose your confidence, you will end the year without any recognition and the team struggled. You let the team down, you know it’s the truth and it will really sting. Mentally it will take a big toll on you. This is simply another opportunity for reflection and will lead to growth down the road. You will end the year averaging just under 13 a game and will feel like a failure. People tell you shouldn’t of felt like that Jay, but you did, you felt like you let so many people down. Learn. Grow.
After the season you will decide to transfer even though you loved your time there. You will become one of the biggest grad transfers on the market, taking visits to schools such as Oregon and Depaul, being offered by schools such as Louisville and Xavier as well as many others, it will be the most surreal feeling in the world. You will have a huge secret though, your foot that was bugging you was a full plantar tear, you knew you wouldn’t be able to get through a full season at the d1 level so you had to make the biggest and hardest decision of your life, you chose to come home and play at UBC instead of going to a power 5. You will have hundreds of people reach out to you, tell you you’re throwing away your career, you’re a dumb ass, you’re crazy, and it will be a blessing, this will be when you finally realize, I am not playing this game for other people, I am playing it for myself and it will be the best and most liberating feeling ever.
It won't be all sunshine and rainbows though, at UBC you won’t be able to practice because of your foot, only play games. You will play well, but you will partially tear your other foot. It will be hell to get out of bed most days, you won’t fully feel like yourself. Despite this you will help lead UBC to the Canada West finals and national for the first time in 6 years. We will finish that season 5th in the country and you will win an all Canadian. You will be pissed, to other people 5th place is great, to people like us - the person you are creating - you hate it.
Fast forward a few months you are rehabbing after the season, they don’t select you for the FISU national team, you were an All- Canadian Jay, you had a great season and you did all that without practicing. You felt so disrespected, you knew you were better than all these guys. It fueled you even more, you decided to spend that Summer working on your body, as because of your feet you had to medically take 6 months off. It was a mental grind for you, your team went to Taiwan to play in the Jones cup, it would have been great exposure for you, but you couldn’t play in it. It bugged you, but you didn’t let it affect you. You came back in your last year and did your thing Jay, you were still hurt until around Christmas but you kept pushing, You ended up leading your team to a Canada West championship and a third-place finish at nationals, it hurt because you felt you guys had the talents to win, it is something you will always think about, but you should be proud of yourself Jay, you worked your ass off.
Wait for it - remember when you got cut from your local AAU team?!
8 months after your final year of college, you sign a professional contract in Europe. The kid they said wouldn't do it - did, Europe although it is not where you will want to be, you always want more but take a moment to slow down. Appreciate how far you have come and feel gratitude,
You will accomplish many of my dreams all because of that bright orange ball. Basketball will take us all around the world. It will give us many so many amazing life experiences. Everything happens for a reason, when you’re reading our story, be proud that you have inspired others and you have paved a path for others. Let our story be a story of love and perseverance - you never quit. This shit isn’t easy writing this right now to you, I want you and all those after you especially to understand but not be discouraged. This shit isn’t supposed to be easy, there will be set back after set back, heartbreak after heartbreak, but if you keep going you can accomplish what you set out to do.
People will always ask, how you managed to keep playing all this time coming from where we come from and it is because YOU never gave up. You believed in yourself and for that - I thank you.
Keep grinding Jay!!!