Johnny Hamilton, Trinidad and Tobago's present and future
PORT OF SPAIN (Trinidad and Tobago) — It’s not something you see every day: the best basketball player of a country wishes to become its Police Commissioner. But that's exactly the long-term goal of Johnny Hamilton, the Trinidadian native who had an impressive season in his first year at the NBA G-League with the Grand Rapids Drive, a Detroit Pistons franchise.
At the age of 25, and measuring 7 feet, the Center developed at the University of Texas in Arlington averaged a respectable 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in his professional debut with Drive.
These abilities developed thanks in part to a childhood of playing several sports in his home of Trinidad, particularly football (soccer), a sport he enjoyed until he began to grow taller than the rest, and that’s responsible for the legwork Hamilton today exhibits on the court: “I played football at school and in church,” said Hamilton to FIBA.basketball. “I feel I was pretty good in every sport I tried out. I played basketball, but nothing serious, until I met my coach, who was the Trinidad and Tobago national team coach.”
Now, in his search for a possible contract with an NBA team, Hamilton has evidently turned into a role model for the hundreds of children in the Caribbean islands that dream of a future in professional sports. For the player it all comes down to work, consistency and the awareness that it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you try. That's the key for opportunities to come your way.
“I just want people to see me as someone who never gave up. My family isn’t rich. My dad and my mom worked very hard. I've only kept working when it seemed like things wouldn’t work. I kept working on my art. I kept believing even when everyone stopped believing. I come from the same wooden house, the same three meals a day, with no running water at home. I come from the struggle. It doesn't matter where you come from, the opportunity's going to come, but you have to be ready for it,” added Hamilton.
That's why it's very important for him to be able to represent his country's colors as soon as an international opportunity comes up with the national team. “I'm ready for anything that lies ahead,” says Hamilton. “It's exciting to represent my nation and I'm waiting for the opportunity, just to show people that Trinidad and the whole Caribbean have great players.”
The goal, however, is still to arrive and establish himself at the NBA, where already several teams have shown interest in the versatile center that studied Criminology. “I keep working on that, trying to improve and see which teams are better for me, what team would like to give me the chance to continue working. I hope that in one of those I can represent my country and my family. I'm going to keep working until that happens,” Hamilton assured.
If he does it, he could become in the first player born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago that plays in the NBA. Carl Herrera — who had a discrete career of eight seasons in the NBA, including two championships — is currently considered as the first one born in the islands to do so, but then he obtained the Venezuelan citizenship and represented them internationally.
“I sense that I can achieve something that many people aren’t able to do in their lives. That makes me feel more grateful to be the person with the chance of doing so. Just making my family and country feel proud of me would put a smile on my face and it motivates me to work harder because I see people in Trinidad watching me, and now they want to fight harder to make their dreams come true,” Hamilton concluded.
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