BUSINESS

Column: Basketball has taught me to never give up on things you love

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Samuel Palode in action during the Alumni game. Photo by Tyler Butler.

Samuel Palode
Oxford Stories
sjpalode@go.olemiss.edu

Basketball is easily one of the most entertaining sports in the world. It’s complex, yet simple game play brings excitement in all countries. For me, basketball is one of the most important teachers I have ever had.

My father was a very talented tight-end and played football almost at the professional level. He then met my mother, and here I am. I started playing basketball in the sixth grade. That was nine years ago. When I first started, I was the worst guy on the court. I was the tallest guy, however, so that gave me a slight advantage. My skills, on the other hand, were basically nonexistent.

Instead of picking up a new sport, I stuck with basketball. I did so because I loved the energy. That was the first lesson it taught me: never give up on the things you love, for those will forever bring you joy and peace.

Come seventh grade, I made the middle school basketball team. I had acquired a small amount of skill and that was enough to get a roster spot. I was still the tallest on the team, so I figured that also played a factor in the coach’s decision to keep me.

As time progressed through that year, I learned there were many flaws in my game. I couldn’t shoot properly. My ball handling skills were awful. My basketball IQ was not up to par with the other teammates. Only thing I had going for me was athleticism.

Our coach had many gadgets to improve overall performance. He made sure I used one each day in practice. I had an average season that year. In doing so, basketball taught me another lesson – in order to succeed in a particular activity, you must put in serious time with it.

So, I did. The summer between my seventh and eighth grade years, I spent a lot of precious time studying the game of basketball. I spent countless hours on YouTube watching pro basketball players. I studied their footwork, how the trained, what they ate, and their mentality towards a simple game many people sit back and enjoy.

I took their moves to the backyard and practiced daily. I learned how to eat healthy and discovered what helps maintain muscles and decrease fat on my body. I practiced drills that helped with footwork and learned how to instantly change speed and direction. I did not forget the fundamentals. Basketball taught me that dedication and hard work will bring you a long way in life and sports.

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Samuel Palode driving hard towards the basket at the Alumni Game. Photo by Tyler Butler.

The result of the hard work and dedication was sweet. I was blessed to have an amazing eighth grade season. I even became known by quite a few community college coaches. As I got ready for ninth grade, I was invited to a basketball camp. There, I was to compete among other up and coming ball players and see how well I played. If I played well enough, I would have a chance to be ranked as one of the best in the country.

My second day there, I experienced a devastating knee injury. I ended up tearing my ACL, along with bruised bone and chipped bones, a dislocated kneecap, and a damaged main artery in my leg. The realization hurt my heart. The one thing I loved betrayed me. It was all just basketball teaching me more lessons. This one was rather painful. It taught me that I won’t be able to play basketball forever.

I was stuck between giving up or pressing through the pain to keep going. While in the ER, I asked multiple times if I would be able to play basketball again. The doctors gave no answer. After a successful surgery, I started physical therapy.

A week later at my first session, I had to walk. The pain was excruciating. I still had a spot on the basketball team. Some days I would go in the gym and watch practice. I would watch my teammates getting better without me. Some even got better than me. It was frustrating.

Nine months later, I was released from the doctor’s care and could continue basketball activities. After missing all of my freshman year, I returned to the court for my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade season. I came back to form and got better than ever.

Basketball is an entertaining sport to watch. Playing the game is even better. It teaches you many lessons about yourself and about life in general. The most important lesson the game of basketball taught me is that everyone has a different path in life. Don’t get discouraged or jealous, just sit back and enjoy the ride.


Samuel Palode is a Pearlington, Mississppi native and transfer junior who aspires to be a sports broadcaster. With four sisters and three brothers, he strives to be the best child out of the family. Palode attended high school until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated his family, leaving them without school or shelter until late 2006. After schools were reopened, Palode attended high school and became a member of the school’s basketball team. He graduated with honors.

Known as a relentless competitor and one of the county’s “Best Athletes,” Palode wanted to continue playing sports in college. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so because of his father’s life-threatening illness. Passing up offers, he continued his education at a community college. There, he graduated with an associate’s degree in the arts and achieved honors. He was also inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.

As a communications major, Palode wants to earn his bachelor’s degree and become a sports broadcaster and reporter. His goal is to play basketball at Ole Miss and one day play in the pros. After retirement, he wants to be an NBA or ESPN sports broadcaster.

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