This is the seventh and final installment of Marshawn Hampton’s diary from China.
I’ve been giving this young American basketball player, who has played professional basketball across China for the past eight months, a chance to connect to his friends and family through this blog.
In the last six installments we’ve read about his anticipation of playing in a strange country, his battles over the emotional losses of family members back in the U.S. – including the devastating death of his cousin and best friend Stoney – as well as his triumphant ending, playing with former NBA players on an All-Star team.
Even though his playing days in China are over for now, Marshawn’s story is far from over. This young man’s love for his family and friends, and his love of the game of basketball, will, I’m sure, propel him on to bigger and better things in his future days.
Read on to find out what he’s been up to and where he’s been.
I want to apologize to my readers for the late entry, but the month of July was a very intense and busy one for me.
Firstly, I remember leaving you off with me going back to the United States for my late cousin Stoney’s posthumous birthday celebration. But even in my darkest days after Stoney’s passing, a great opportunity arrived.
After a solid seven months of basketball in China’s capital city of Beijing – where I fell just short of my ultimate goal of winning some championship hardware – I was nominated to play in an All-Star tour with future NBA hall of farmer Tracy McGrady for 35 days in 14 cities against Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) teams.
Deciding to play in the All-Star tour was a dilemma for me because I missed my cousin’s funeral and didn’t get to say goodbye the proper way. And now I was in jeopardy of missing his birthday celebration.
I remembered when we were younger and Stoney liked T-Mac’s (Tracy McGrady) skills along with a lot of different players. I prayed to God about it and talked to my biggest fan, Ms. Rosetta Greenwood, and with those two things I chose to take the opportunity to continue playing in China.
I knew Stoney would have approved because his favorite slogan to me was “Cuz, you gotta get us up out the hood”. I couldn’t pass up on this chance. It’s a part of my progress to make good on Stoney’s wish.
Today was my cousin Stoney’s posthumous birthday celebration. My other cousin Jason FaceTimed me and let me see all the festivities and all the people who came out to celebrate Stoney’s life. If you base the impact Stoney had on people’s lives based on the turnout at the party, I’d say he impacted many lives and didn’t even realize it.
His childrens’ mothers Cholé and Chantae really went the distance to make that event a special one. I know them personally because we all grew up together, and to see you ladies putting all your differences aside for a better cause was amazing. I love you guys forever.
Of course there is no disrespect to his other kids; mothers but I was shedding light on those two because I watched them from China handling business to make it all flourish into a great event.
I can’t lie: it was hard seeing the banner of Stoney and his kids taking photos with it. But the hardest thing for me was seeing his youngest baby girl Madison facing his banner and reaching for him as if he was going to pick her up.
It made me cry because she has no idea she will never see her father who spoiled her rotten. I swear those kids were his life. I also love each and every one them the same way.
Jason, I appreciate you cousin for life! You have no idea how much your FaceTime calls helped me along this bumpy road with our boy passing away. I watched the festivities and celebration of Stoney’s life as if I was there.Thanks Jay!
Today we practiced for the first time with the All-Star team.
All I can say is WOW! Two-time LA Lakers NBA Champion Mike McGee was our head coach and the players were NBA veteran 6’8” Tracy McGrady, 6’9” Lee Benson who played in the NBA, CBA, and various overseas teams, 6’5 11-year NBA and overseas veteran Carl Edwards, 6’3” overseas veteran Kenny Wilson, overseas veteran 6’8” Waki Williams, 6’10” NBA/NBA D League Ater Majok, 6’8” Mexico rookie Stefan Pope, 6’0” overseas veteran and NCAA standout Marquis Weddle, me at 5’10”, 6’9” overseas veteran from Holland Max Van Schlik, 6′ 5 German league player Jordan Highland, and the young buck 5’7” NBA D League champion Kiwi Gardner.
Everyone listed has played some serious basketball somewhere so just imagine how the practice was. I’m going to leave it at that. Stay tuned!
Ok I let this All-Star tour consume me, hahaha, There’s a ton of crazy fans that follow and chase the bus and some who sleep in our hotel lobbies in each city we play to just get a glimpse of us, and of course, Tracy hahaha. We are 10-0 with four games left on the tour. Everyone is playing great team basketball for a group of guys that have never played together in a pro setting besides a few.
Don’t let the 10-0 record fool you: we earned those wins and were tested. The biggest battle was beating a team four times. Could you imagine? They know all your team tendencies as well as the players’ roles and plays but we all play ball and had to lock in. As we are closing in on making history with this tour by going undefeated.
In the past 3-4 years they have lost games so with this being Tracy’s last time playing in a professional setting we are pushing to make this happen for him and as well for ourselves because as I said going undefeated is a big thing for us all.
We all know what’s at stake if we continue to win games. More opportunities will arrive. As I said before, all these wins were earned. The other teams have flown high calibre players from outside China in to play against us – everyone from NBA players, top national players, to NBA D Leaguers. So as you can imagine it was a task to be here and be 10-0 playing against high quality teams and players on their soil.
Well. I must get some rest we have practice tomorrow morning and coach Mike always wants to get those lungs open with running 17s and suicides hahaha. Till next time I’m out!
We have won the last three games and now we heading back to Shanghai where Tracy McGrady played one season, so I know the game will be a full house as all the other games have been. Shoot around was intense because we have had three days off to just be casual and rest our bodies. This game is going to be a tough one.
Last night we watched clips of the Shanghai Sharks on the news talking about game. As we loaded the bus to head to the arena for the game you could see it in everyone’s face that everything we’ve done this far wouldn’t mean anything with a blemish on the record. The bus ride went as usual: players sat in the seats they always sit in and music blaring through someone beats pill speaker to get us hyped up. When we pulled up to the arena our banner was all over the arena which was amazing and fans surrounded the bus to greet us. They were screaming everyone’s names like they knew us personally haha.
During warmups they switched it up on all of us. The called all of us out from the tunnel and they had a special video of the tour for T-Mac leading up to this game and it showed the fans going crazy, clips of us during games, then his children spoke as well. T-Mac and his wife shed a few tears but I could imagine the love overwhelming him especially when they revealed his jersey hanging from the rafters. As that emotional time for him came to an end we as a team gathered in the center court, he said “Fellas, I’m happy that we all are here. Let’s have fun and make history!”
Then he looked at me to say what I say during huddles which was ” Let’s do what we been doing and set the tone early. “Win” on three. One, Two Three WIN!” With that being said we did that.
Before the game started I heard “let’s go Marshawn” and I looked up and it was my boy street all legend Hotsauce. We embraced by a handshake and a hug and he said ” let’s go bro put on for the city” meaning represent for Atlanta.
Needless to say we won the game. T-Mac went out with a fairy tale ending as we all wanted him to do. As we made our way to the locker room we were mobbed by fans wanting to take pictures and for us to sign autographs. I knew then that basketball was a private club that tied us all together internationally because once we made it to the locker room everyone was happy but kept saying “Damn man, it’s over all ready.”
We all wished there were more games to play because for 35 days we witnessed each other go from strangers to brothers in a blink of an eye. Upon checking out the hotel T-Mac wanted to take pictures and sign things for us for memories. As we all left for the airport it was the love we will forever remember what we accomplished and be brothers for life. The overall experience was amazing especially playing with a group of guys who I never played with and to accomplish what we did was by far the best experience I have had.
Once I arrived at the airport to head back home to the U.S. all I could think about was my time in China: from what is was like upon arrival to one of the busiest foreign countries I have ever been in my life, the good as well as bad experiences.
The weirdest thing I ate while in China was chicken feet. I tried it and it did not agree with my diet, let’s just say that hahaha. After boarding the plane for the 14-hour flight, I ate a bite of bread and shrimp and went to sleep then woke up in Chicago and immediately went to eat Chicago’s famous pizza Home Run Inn. It was so good I ordered another pizza to take home!
After I ate I went to get a hair cut that was badly needed! My barber Ricky, my best friend Mike and I went out to a local nightclub with a few of our mutual friends Donald, Rico, and Kells to celebrate my time in China as well as his time in Italy playing basketball. After the nightclub we all hung out on a side street talking to friends and other basketball players that play professionally in various countries.
Upon pulling off from hanging out my mind started racing to prepare my self to visit Stoney’s grave site and see his mom and kids tomorrow. I went numb for a split second, but snapped out of it.
When I woke up the following day I got a call from my cousin Jason to hang out and go visit Stoney’s grave site. We took off to head in that direction towards south Chicago and as we were riding it felt weird because reality set in that Stoney wouldn’t be riding with us ever again. My mind started to wrap around the fact he was gone forever. I looked up and in the windshield I saw 2 obituaries: one was my cousin Stoney’s and the other one was my other cousin Demarckus’.
It was so surreal at that very moment because they both passed away back to back along with uncles as well. So today is becoming overwhelming in itself.
To clear the sad tension we decided to eat at Hooters first and play ball later then make our way to see Stoney’s kids and his grave site. Once we finished eating and playing basketball we rode over to my aunt Viola’s – known to us as Aunt Doe-Doe – who is Stoney’s mother. When she saw me I got emotional but I held it together until she cried when she was telling me how proud she was of me, especially with my circumstances as well as staying strong when I lost my best friend, big brother figure, cousin and much more.
She told me about how proud Stoney was of me – always bragging on me to people. All of a sudden his daughter Ashiyah and son Caron screamed my name as I turned around and WANs rushed by them. I hugged them so tight as if I was scared to misplace them like they were some materialistic item.
It was an amazing feeling.
I also signed a jersey for Stoney like he asked me to do in February when I last saw him. My aunt took it and told me she’s going to wear it haha. After I left her house I ran into a few of my cousins Kita, Wesley, and Meeka.
Now that I’m back in Atlanta I’m waiting around to see what kind of basketball deal will go through me. My next career stop will either be Mexico, El Salvador, or Peru. Nothing is for certain at this point since I’m just in talks with team owners and general management.
God will place me where he thinks it’s best for me and my family.
As always stay blessed and thanks to all those who supported me on this journey while I was in China. Remember this if you do not remember anything else from these entries: NO MATTER what you’re dealing with or going through in your life, GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES!
Be safe and pray for those all over the world, even the enemies. Amen!