Marshawn Hampton’s passport is getting a bit dog-eared lately.
But even if his official travel document is getting a little rough on the edges from all the world traveling he has done over the years, the 26-year-old American basketball player from North Atlanta Georgia has been able to keep his hard court skills in top notch condition, despite the rigors of travel and being away from home for long periods of time.
Hampton’s journey through life has always centred around basketball. Born in North Atlanta, Hampton went to high school at Meadowcreek High in Norcross, Georgia, and then played NCAA and NAIA collegiate ball in Kentucky.
After a couple years in semi-pro ball with the Chicago Steam and Chicago Fury of the American Basketball Association, a move to a touring team – the Seattle Zhen – saw Hampton enjoy his first trip overseas to China with a seven game tourney in Chengdu in 2011.
There was one season in the Australian Basketball Association with Waratah State League squad Tamworth Thunderbolts and then it was back to the U.S. when opportunities for NBA D-League workouts arose.
“Those NBA D-League tryouts went great,” said Hampton. “But unfortunately, I went undrafted.”
Now Hampton finds himself playing basketball in China again. This time it’s the capital city of Beijing and this time it’s much longer than four days.
“Shortly after I went undrafted in the D League a colleague of mine that played in China years ago gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in playing in a lower level for good money. I agreed.”
It would seem the decision was an easy one to make because basketball appears to be in Hampton’s blood, and to be able to play – even in a country where he knows only a handful of phrases in the local language – is what is most important in his life.
“The sport of basketball changed my life at an early age,” said Hampton. “Growing up in a tough environment, basketball is looked on in my culture as a way out. So you have to work extremely hard at it to even be considered for an athletic scholarship.”
Hampton’s siblings also played competitive basketball so a little family rivalry also motivated him to excel, he said.
“In my honest opinion I don’t think I would be where I am today without it.”
Hampton will now have to balance being away from home, playing basketball for a new squad, and experiencing a completely new culture with his new team – sponsored by ‘Dong Gang Xin Zuo’, a Beijing realty business – wearing number 25.
“Living in Beijing is quite the experience,” said Hampton. “I feel the culture is different and adjusting to the customs and the Chinese way can be hard at times but so far I’m doing well.”
Hampton will focusing on his hoops play and perhaps learning a bit more of the Chinese language so I’m giving him an outlet on this blog for his thoughts and experiences while in the ‘Middle Kingdom’. He will be providing updates on his successes for the next few months in a diary format in order to help keep his family informed and have a lasting record of another chapter in his basketball story.
Here is Entry One, below….
December 9, 2014
I left for China today and it was tougher leaving this time compared to when I left for Australia. I said my goodbyes and left my family during a tough time for us, but I had to remember God makes no mistakes and everything happens for a reason. Upon boarding the plane I had definitely over-packed so I was at the airport rearranging my luggage to get the weight in order lol. As I finally made it through security I saw a special friend who played a huge role in my success and grind in the off-season.
Finally, I boarded the plane and was seated in first class where the seating was very spacious which was very comfy, I might add. Imagine a plane window but in first class you have 3 windows to yourself as well as a work station. The flight attendants were very nice and helpful and made sure you were well fed and hydrated. While on this 15-hour trip all I could do was think about my loved ones I left behind and hope they really understand why I had to leave the country for 6 to 7 months out of the year.
Although I get to live out a life-long dream to play professional basketball I also understand the sacrifices that not only I, but my whole family makes in order for me to live out God’s plan. Our faith in our Lord and Savior pretty much trumps any selfish personal reasons for sure, but hey, we’re human, so we can’t always control our emotions majority of the time.
This 15-hour flight to Beijing has given me a piece of mind and a sense of clarity that one of the many influential men /mentor/ dhafir bounds always preached to me: “Do whatever it is you’re going to do but minimize excuses and hold yourself accountable for all you do – even the good, bad, and the ugly.”
Although I had no idea of where I would end up this season, he was a person who kept me positive and I appreciate all he has done for me. He has opened me up to everything from business ventures to training to being a big brother for me. This meant he never let me get away with NOTHING!
Well I have no clue what time it is right now but they’re serving breakfast. I just want to close up saying Bae-Bae, Lil Bruce, Tez, Twan, and Bri – I love you guys and no matter what happens y’all all I got and y’all have always been some of my biggest supporters.Well, with me being your brother you really don’t have a choice!
Tell all my nephews and nieces uncle Shawn loves them to pieces! As for Shawn, Aja and Ash I love you guys to death! #Hamptonclan
December 11, 2014
The sun peaked through my gold curtains and woke me up at 7:30 am. Although it was early I immediately looked at my phone to check the time back in Atlanta and Chicago to compare it to Beijing. I was happy because Chicago has a 14-hour time difference and Atlanta is 15 hours behind so of course I reached out to family and close friends to let them know I was safe. The hotel room didn’t have wifi for the first night. After talking to close friends I talked to my older sister and little brother. I received bad news that was not only a major blow to me but our family as a whole. I sat in my hotel room motionless as tears ran down my face in disbelief all I could do is think about my aunt and my cousins. As I dozed off a knock on my room door startled me and it was one of the coaches asking me if I wanted to go to one of the many schools I would be visiting to raise awareness for the upcoming season and also meet the kids and parents to let them know I would be working with their children to develop their basketball skills.
Of course I said yes. I need to keep busy and not think about what’s going on back at home. Upon arrival to the school I really was humbled by this experience due to the fact the kids were very excited to meet me and very accepting of me, which is a great feeling. If you have not yet felt it I would strongly suggest seeking it. After two hours of the meet and greet at the school I was then invited to bowling with the team and coaches where it was a bonding type of event that really gave me a clear mind with my family issue back in Atlanta.
After winning 3 games straight where the losing team had to do push ups we then left and one of the Serbian guys wanted to take the subway home so we did. Hahaha while on the train my new teammates Jordan and Trent of Oregon started a cross fit workout competition on the train with the hand rails, push-ups, broad jump, balance jump, and monkey bars. Again I was victorious with winning 3 of the 5. Shoutout to my boy Gabe hahaha – he trained me like this a couple times with a cross fit competition type workouts, we even had a Chinese man join in with us!
After we got off at our stop we searched for food and ended up at the 24-hour KFC which was so different but was tasty to say the least. One thing that stood out is they gave us no ice in our drinks which was weird for me because in the States all you get is about 4-6 drinks before it’s gone hahaha. While eating we talked about where we played previously with players ranging from Australia, Germany, Kosovo, Serbia, Holland and more. This made me excited to be a part of this team because these players’ experience meant only one thing: they could play this game. Well I’m walking across the street to my hotel it’s 2:00 am. Time to lay it down! Good night / good morning America! #HamptonClan #TeamRelly.
December 20, 2014
It’s game day! First double header for the pre-season! I woke up twice – once at 5am and then at 6:13 am. I believe I am just overly anxious to play! For breakfast I broke my ritual of egg whites toast and lemon water and decided to go back to my college days and had an egg omelet and cranberry juice and orange juice mixed. Boy was it good!!!! On the way to the arena we almost got into several accidents! People in China drive so carelessly, like switching lanes with no signals or merging over in hope that the car will let them squeeze in. Let’s just say my breakfast was about to come up. We arrived to the stadium and it was quite busy! It was two courts and teams were playing and they had a nice crowd watching. Even though there were other Americans there playing, a lot where pointing and tapping friends to look in my direction. I knew then it was going to be a nice crowd when we played. As we got dressed all I heard was broken English and Chinese being spoken and I looked up to catch a jersey and it was #25 the same number my little brother Antwan wore in high school as well as a long time friend Bryan. One of the Chinese players asked if all I wear was Jordan’s. I had better play like number 23 from the Bulls I laughed and tied up my Air Jordan 11 Gammas and started stretching. When we came out all I heard was clapping and “show court” I guess that meant we were playing on the main court.
I didn’t play as much the first game although we won. My coach said he was letting new locals showcase their game to see if they would make a roster spot. I still was efficient in my 19 minutes with 17 points and 6 assists but the second game he let me play I ended up with 29 points and 9 assists – one shy from a double double. After winning both games we had to meet and talk to kids with my translator which was cool. By this time the traffic was hectic and most of the team decided to take the subway which I was totally unprepared for, after hours are hectic! The people were rude as EVER !!! They bump into you with no regard. If the train was full they didn’t care – they forced their way on anyway causing every one to get knocked off balance or be pressed up against a total stranger. The most mind-boggling thing was the men didn’t offer women seats and if you did the women get offended because in Chinese culture you only offer old women seats. Once we got off the subway we had to take a cab but not just any cab a black cab which wasn’t illegal but was to a normal taxi. These taxis had a red light on their windshield that symbolized it being a black taxi. These taxis aren’t to be used by women at night because it’s dangerous and not to be used by foreigners without a Chinese person with you or they cheat you out your money. Man after I got back to my apartment I was so shocked at all the info I learned in a 35 minute trip.
I said my prayers, showered and went to sleep with a heavy mind.
As I was having a look on Facebook I saw a post by an agent that made me feel some type of way. He was saying that if you’re playing in low leagues then you aren’t or shouldn’t consider yourself a professional basketball player or something along those lines – don’t quote me on that. Although I never cared about opinions because they’re like but holes: we all have one.
I feel I was only offended because I worked my ass off and invested my time to get the contracts I received rather low or mid level. Now if I’m not mistaken if a team or organization cuts you a check to play basketball then what is it called? Better yet here’s a question for you before you became a legit “big time agent” what moves were you making as a player? Did you pass up any offers? I think we all know it’s not about a resume or where you played it’s politics and who you know because I know a few guys that can play top league in any league if a team gave them a chance but with no one to vouch for them what’s the chances? How many players know a person who can get a connect to play professionally? Apparently not a lot because it’s a lot of hoopers at home still grinding!
I was that hooper and all I will say is if a team or organization wants to pay you to play the game you love and make sure you’re treated right, then do so because I have friends and associates that play in the NBA, CBA, and other top leagues across the country that aren’t happy in their situations with various reasons ranging from not being paid on time, horrible living arrangements, hidden fees meaning covering insurance and many other things.
And the so called “guaranteed” contracts that agents prepare but still get released. Well I can say in my 4 years as a PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER all my teams and organizations I have dealt with I have had none of those issues and the same bonuses, incentives, and various short term endorsements or sponsorships you receive for the course of your contract are merely the same as those top leagues trust me I get a lot of perks that I won’t go into details about. So before you go opening your mouth and letting your fingers release your thoughts these same lower leagues you talk about paid for a house, car, numerous vacations (check my Instagram @marshawn2dope) and other assets. Half the jobs you post I made more money in the leagues I played or play in. Respect the grind man just because. Just like you call yourself an agent doesn’t mean you know the ins and outs about each player or leagues YOU can’t find info on don’t mean nothing bro…gotta dig deeper than scratching the surface.
December 24, 2014
Christmas eve here in China and it’s the first Christmas I have ever been away from my family. It’s by far the hardest thing to deal with. I have been away for other holidays during my career but never Christmas. Just scrolling on my social networks seeing my brother singing “this Xmas” made me miss being home even more. I have no plans and we have a few days off so maybe hit the Great Wall of China and other tourist attractions. Happy holidays friends, loved ones, and most importantly, family.
December 25, 2014
Today is Christmas and I woke up and had a Snickers for breakfast. I received video calls and texts from loved ones which made this Christmas a little easier. In the most respectable fashion my family sent me glide messages and pictures of the kiddies. I was very pleased see my family and the kids have a great Christmas in the same way my Mom made sure we had gifts and taught us what the holidays were all about. I would like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ME & the #HAMPTONCLAN.
Be blessed and remember to celebrate Jesus’ birthday in a honorable way. Til next month be safe and pray for those all over the world – even the enemies. Amen!