Ray Allen not only announced his NBA retirement after a 20 year career, he wrote an epic letter to his 13-year-old self that has us all taking notes. Get it inside...
After two decades and about 18 seasons in the NBA, 41-year-old Ray Allen is officially hanging up his jersey. He's been a free agent since his 2014 loss with The Heat in the NBA Finals. Today, he's ready to call it a wrap. But h's not going without imparting some wisdom to the masses. The UCONN baller turned 2 time NBA champ is looking forward to being a dad to his 5 kids, a husband and focusing on all the things he sacrificed for his long career.
On the hardships of being a military brat:
You’re used to being the kid that nobody knows. The majority of your existence has been about trying to find new friends, trying to show people that you’re a good person and that you mean no harm. You’re used to being an outsider.
You’ve gotten pretty good at it.
This time is different though. It’s the middle of the school year. Everybody already knows one another. You’re at a critical age, and kids are just.…
Kids are just mean.
You’ve grown up in a military household your whole life. Until now, your friends were all from military families. You walked around the neighborhood with your I.D. card hanging around your neck like a dog tag in case some unfamiliar MPs rolled by. You spent your formative elementary school years in Britain. So you don’t even realize it, but to some people, you speak very proper.
When you step off that school bus in South Carolina tomorrow and open your mouth, those kids are going to look at you like you’re an alien.
“You talk like a white boy,” they’ll say.
On how to deal with the toughest part of his life:
You’ll be the enemy to a lot of people simply because you’re not from around there.
This will be both the toughest and the best thing that will ever happen to you.
What I want you to do is this: Go to the basketball court. Stay at the basketball court. You can build your entire existence there.
On the naysayers he'll encounter:
When you start getting attention from colleges, some of your own teammates will say things like, “UConn? You’ll sit on the bench for four years.”
Just because you don’t drink, they’ll say, “Man, you’re gonna be an alcoholic once you get to college. You won’t be ready. All they do is drink there.”
A lot of people don’t want to see you succeed. Don’t get into fistfights with these kids. Trust me, it will accomplish nothing.
Instead, remember exactly who said those things.
Remember how they said it.
Remember their faces.
Keep these voices inside your head and use them as fuel every single day when you wake up.
And the voices telling you you’re the man? Those are the voices to keep out. When you start getting some national attention in high school, you’ll hear things like, “Ray’s jumpshot is God-given.”
Listen: God doesn’t care whether you make your next jump shot.
God will give you a lot of things in life, but he’s not going to give you your jump shot. Only hard work will do that.
On being the unpopular teammate
Most nights, you won’t go out. Your friends will ask why. You won’t drink alcohol, ever. People will look at you funny. When you get to the NBA, you won’t always play cards with the boys. Some people will assume you’re not being a good teammate. You’ll even have to put your family on the back-burner for your job.
Most of the time, you will be alone.
That won’t make you the most popular person. Some people simply won’t understand. Is the cost worth it?
Only you can answer that.
On the rewards:
The hell you experience when you get off that bus will be temporary. Basketball will take you far away from that school yard. You will become far more than just a basketball player. You’ll get to act in movies. You’ll travel the world. You will become a husband, and the father of five amazing children.
Now, the most important question in your life isn’t, “Who am I supposed to be?” or even, “What do I have to do to win another championship?”
It’s, “Daddy, guess what happened in math class today?”
That’s the reward that awaits you at the end of your journey.
Go to the court. Stay at the court.
Get your work in, young fella.
Most people will never really get to know the real you. But they’ll know your work.
Read Ray's full inspirational letter over on The Players' Tribune.
Photo: Ray's IG