“Perhaps he wasn’t wrong to stake everything on this. He’d chosen a different path – a journey deep into the unknown to confront his self-doubts and fears head-on. He had to walk fearlessly inside the gates of Rucker Park and believe it was all worth it … then play the game of his life. His choice to put everything on the line was rare, but it’s not unique. Nearly every culture and tradition has a similar story, real or imagined. When a young man starts his journey, he must be brave enough to take a metaphysical leap of faith. He must be willing to step foot on the bus and travel straight into the labyrinth of his fears, toward whatever awaits him on the other end, even if it may rip him to shreds. It’s the ultimate gamble. If the young man is successful, he comes home a hero, and becomes important. His life has meaning and purpose. But in order to succeed, he must first completely open up his soul to the consequences of failure, knowing there may be no way back out. This, above all else, is the hardest thing to do.”

Flinder Boyd on the hoop dream of Thomas “TJ” Webster Jr. (SB Nation). Read more from Boyd in the Longreads Archive.

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Photo by Flinder Boyd

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