Will-osophy: 'That's MY House'
I recently had a chance to talk to Trail Blazers rookie Will Barton after a voluntary workout at the team's practice facility. This is the second in a series of blog posts stemming from that conversation. Click here to read the first.
There are a lot of transitions rookies have to make when they get into the league. There's the increased number of games and the corresponding travel, which the NCAA season does little to prepare players for. There's the increased public scrutiny that goes with being a professional athlete. And there's going from being the best player on ever team you've ever played on to having to fight for every second of playing time.
But there are plenty of positive transitions as well. For Will Barton, whose childhood in Baltimore featured almost none of the comforts many of us take for granted
, the opportunity to have a place to call his own, a place where he wouldn't have to worry about waking someone else up by rolling over in the middle of the night, was overwhelming.
"It's like sometimes I wake up in the morning and it's just unreal for me," said Barton. "A lot of people probably don't understand where I'm coming from, to go from never having your own bed, never having your own room, to having your own house. That's my house. Not my momma house, not my dad house, not my sister or my brother. That's MY house. I pay the rent. I got that. I work hard for it. It's crazy when I'm in my own big room in a big house in a nice neighborhood, it's like all this work I put in to get this far, it just really motivates me to not want to stop, because I want more. When I say I want it all, I want it ALL, man."
The things that Barton has been able to acquire since being drafted in the second round by the Trail Blazers are constant reminders of all of the things he and his family went without as a youth.
"Going back to those days where I'm in the house with my mom and she's a single parent, it's me, my brother, my sister and we're struggling," said Barton. "You try not to let it get to you because we're kids and we're just trying to live a normal life. Things weren't always roses for us. We struggled at times, but we had each other.
"It's just how you put things in perspective. Ever since I was young, I wanted to provide for my family, for myself. Being able to do things for my mom and my family, that's a wonderful feeling. Those are the things that drive me, give me motivation to work on my game and work extra hard to be as good as I can be, because I know how it feels to be that kid that doesn't have anything or no one thinks you're that good."
Barton still have to prove he has what it takes to stick in the NBA, but knowing what it's like to really struggle will give him as good of a shot as anyone else.
"I never forget about those moments where you begin to doubt, you don't have anything," said Barton. "To have my own house, it's crazy. Like when I first walked it, I put the key in, I was like yo, this is my own house! This is crazy. When I walked in and saw and I was looking around, it was just … me and my godfather, Rolo, we were jumping around, fell on the floor. After that, after the excitement went away, I just sat on the balcony and thought like, this is it. And I've still got a lot more to go."
(Photo via Will Barton's instagram account