Sunday 8/9


First of all saying goodbye to my mom and dad at the airport was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, hands down. There was lots of crying, hugging, and waiving until I could not see them anymore. They are not only my parents, but my best friends, because I am an only child and we are super close. I think its rare today to have the bond that I have with my parents at 22, but I think its because of the way they raised me and always having time to talk at dinner time at least for one hour pretty much everyday of my life. And although sometimes I did not want to have to be home and would rather hang out with my friends, how could I complain when my mothers cooking is 2nd to none. If I could be half the father my Dad has been to me, I would consider it a job well done and if I am fortunate enough to marry a woman a who could even hold a candle to what my mother has been for our family I would be the luckiest man in the world. However, I was also excited for my new adventure so I am sure it was much easier on me.
My first flight was from Los Angeles (LAX) to Atlanta, Georgia and I had woken up at 4:30am to get to the airport for a 7:30am flight. I was able to charm my way into the exit row at the front gate which was huge for me because I had enough leg room to be comfortable for the near 5 hour flight. Sleeping on the plane is one of the hardest things for me to do, but I was able to knock out the entire flight because I was so tired from the night before staying up until about 2:30am talking and saying goodbye to my friends.
Saying goodbye to my friends was also one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as well because I have a unique bond with so many of my friends because of God and Jesus being the center of it. It is an unbelievable blessing to be able to have such a strong core group of friends that continues to grow despite being in different states and now in different countries. Plus the last 3 weeks of my life once I signed the contract have been like a scene out of a movie or music video. I was able to sneak up to Oregon to say goodbye to family and then I think I had about 4 or 5 going away parties, which involved an all day rager at my best friend Dana’s place in Glendora where I was able to have Orange County friends and SC friends meet and we were able to party 12pm to 2am with around 100 people drinking over 500 beers, 6 handles of hard alcohol, and 12 bottles of wine completely polished off by 12am. Not to mention all the other wild antics of the day which included a huge pool, with side of house to jump off into, burgers, dancing, some random guy singing, 3 tables of beer pong going, games of flip-cup and 7/11 doubles being played and most of my closest friends there ! Also, followed by like 2 or 3 last Incahoots nights where we would caravan from my house 20-30 people to a dance club/bar which is about 30 minutes away in Fullerton. Incahoots is a country line dancing bar where it is the most target rich environment I have ever seen in my entire life, and I have been traveling throughout the states playing basketball in lots of different states and even a few countries, but nothing compares I can promise that. Finally, we ended it with what was supposed to be a few leftover beers from my graduation party (I had at my house with most of my families, family friends that also have been a huge blessing in my life with unbelievable guidance, prayer and support) that turned into another rage cage because my right hand man Jake and my two hoop buddies Sean and Josh showed up with a keg, much to my surprise and even more my mothers shock. It turned into another wild party at my house with about 40-50 of my friends who came for one last real goodbye and day of eating, pool volleyball, flip-cup, keg stands and all around great company. I truly love all of my friends to death because of all the amazing times we have shared and great experiences we have already had at only 22 years old. I feel like if I were to pass away today I would have more great times and unbelievable adventures than a 100 year old man. But, back to my adventure.
In Atlanta I had a layover and was able to meet one of my American teammates, Kevin Bridgewater, who is from Kentucky and played basketball at Chattanooga. He is an extremely nice dude and it was nice knowing that I would have another American who could speak English traveling international with me so I wouldn’t have to be in a foreign airport alone. The flight from Atlanta to Paris, France was so long, but again I was so fortunate to have the exit row so I was able to stretch out and fit comfortable. I was blown away by the size of this unreal piece of machinery that Air France had created; it was the biggest plane I have ever been on, hands down. I watched four movies (Lords of Dogtown, I Love You Man, Miley Cirus Movie, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) on the plane on a little flip screen they have on each seat and they had a pretty big collection of movies to choose from, and I love comedies, but I am a sucker for romantic comedies, no homo. I barely slept on this flight because if you know me, one thing I can do is watch movies like crazy. Every time I go to the theater I almost always sneak into a second movie because movie prices are ridiculously expensive so I figure if you pay 12 bucks for a movie, might as well see two so it’s like 6 bucks a pop. When I landed in Paris I was extremely tired though because 9 hours on a plane it’s an extremely long time. Once we arrived Kevin and I hopped onto a tram that went to 4 different terminals before it went to ours, the airport is huge! Because our flight was a little late arriving and it took forever to get to our other terminal we missed our flight from Paris to Belgrade, Serbia. We went to check on the next available flight and how we were going to get to Belgrade and at the desk we ran into our other teammate Jerel Allen who was actually on our flight from Atlanta to Paris as well. He is from Michigan and played at Florida State but played in Ukraine last year on a different team and Kevin and I used this 3 hour wait we had for our next flight to pick his brain about the upcoming season and what his experiences were like. Something about being halfway around the world really makes you bond with fellow Americans extremely fast because after 2 hours of the layover we were already sharing old school experiences, lifestyles, and stories, cracking up about how different the West Coast, Midwest, South, and East Coast are. When I told them I was craving an In & Out Burger (best fast food burgers in the world) and they stared at me with blank faces, I hurt for them, and told them that reason alone is enough for them to come visit after our season is over!
We hoped on the next flight to Belgrade and it was completely full, and since I was the last passenger to board I got to sit first class because it was the only seat left. Haha, Thank you Lord! I lucked out again and was able to fly in style for the shortest leg of this trip, about 2 hours, but it still was amazing. Once we landed we patiently waited for our bags to find out that all 3 of us did not have one of our bags and they were still in Paris. So we left the airport with only the clothes on our back and our backpacks and were greeted by two of the assistant coaches. They barely speak any English and walked us out to a charter bus that was full with the rest of our team. We drove 4 hours to a mountain part of the country called Zlatibor and checked into Cigota, the healthiness and well being hotel.
I then had a meeting with the team and the head coach and it takes twice as long to say everything because he has to say it in Russian and then English for us. The guys on the team speak barely to any English. You communicate through hand signals, it’s pretty funny. I then had a private meeting with the coach, and he is a very intimidating looking guy, but is very honest and straight forward, reminds me a little of coach Floyd, but he sounds like he pays so much attention to detail and runs things like clockwork, everyone has to be on the same page. He told me he wants me to be able to shoot lots of threes from the top of the key and I was excited to hear that. He expects big things from me and that’s great to hear.
Immediately after that we went to eat. The food was a trip! I had to force it down and the only thing that was decent was the chicken. They just have some very odd looking meals, things I could not even explain. The hope for me liking the food is very dim, but I am hoping it will get better.
After dinner, I went to my hotel room and its very small, two twin beds and a bathroom and that is it. One thing that is so wild though is the water pressure in the shower is amazing; it shoots out so fast and can get extremely hot or cold within a second. I love it.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastico! Great recap K-dub. Feel like I'm on this journey with you. Love ya tonz, Sumo.