You don’t know me and I don’t know you, and that’s fine. I fully expect you not to read this article at all, but I need to get this off of my chest regardless.
As someone who has a deep-rooted passion for basketball and gaming that were both formed at young ages, it was always hard for me to find people in a similar position as I was at the time.
During middle school I kept the two separate and throughout high school I just learned to ignore people who thought lesser of me for being a fan of both. It wasn’t easy, but I learned to deal with it.
I didn’t watch much college basketball at the time, but a friend of mine at the time told me about this guy who played for Butler that said something about video games in an interview. I looked it up on google and found you talking about playing Halo with your Coach’s permission.
I had never laughed so hard at an interview.
At the time you were in your second year with Utah and I decided to latch on. I was and still am a Celtics fan, but that never stopped me from rooting for the people I like to succeed in the league.
I was smiling the entire time you continued to improve your game and shape yourself into one of the best players in the league. All the while you continued talking about your passion of gaming to anyone that would listen and that made me feel a stronger connection with you.
Skip ahead to June 2017. Rumors that you might be coming to Boston to reunite with your college coach, Brad Stevens, and help us compete for a title were stronger than ever. And I was getting really excited.
My friends can attest to how happy I was when we got confirmation that you signed with the Celtics. I dropped my plate and was jumping around in joy.
I got a lot of weird looks wearing full Celtics gear for the last half of the day walking around Oklahoma City.
My hype for the upcoming season, alongside everyone else, was growing by the day. All the other additions over the offseason just added to that.
So seeing you out there for the first time in an official NBA game as a Celtic seemed magical. I cheered as you hit a half fadeaway mid-range shot for your first points and I left the room to pack my laptop away and grab my backpack for a newspaper meeting at the college.
I came back into the room and not three seconds later it happened.
I felt physically ill after I saw you go down and I really couldn’t focus on anything else that was going on. I pulled out my laptop and just posted my thoughts on twitter. Looking at other reactions I knew I wasn’t the only one that was hurt by this.
You don’t need me to tell you this, because thousands have said it themselves, but you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Your teammates, opponents and everyone in between are wishing you a speedy recovery and so much more. Ignore the trolls and haters who say stupid things like you deserved it or anything of the like. The amount of love and support drowns that junk out anyways.
The point of this letter was to tell you that you are an inspiration to many people. Not just basketball players, but also kids who play basketball and don’t only play big games like Call of Duty or 2k.
You helped me be comfortable as someone who wanted to play sports and then go home and play the newest Pokémon or Kingdom Hearts title. Things have gotten so much better since then and you are one of the people I must thank the most for that.
Thanks to you just being yourself, I am studying journalism in hopes to cover both basketball and esports when I graduate.
Never forget that no matter the people that will tell you otherwise, not just your fans, not just Boston, the entire league has your back and is wishing you well.
Thank you for everything and get well soon,