To Persevere

One of the most important attributes or qualities that you will need to succeed in basketball, and in life, is the ability to persevere. No matter what obstacles or challenges come your way, you keep your commitment to your goals and yourself, and maintain the courage to make decisions that help you successfully face and rise above those challenges and obstacles. Every exceptional player and coach in basketball – including Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan – have embraced the power to persevere on and off the court.
Recently, I had the good fortune to speak to a basketball player who truly exemplifies the ability to persevere. When I spoke to Teven Jones, he was living in Charlotte and holding down two jobs. Teven was also working out and looking for his next opportunity to play again.  He had dealt with some significant obstacles in his “basketball career” and was now ready to get back into the game.
After playing high school prep ball, Teven went to the University of Virginia. He played his freshman year but not the sophomore year. Then he transferred to another school and suffered a season ending injury. Since he couldn’t play, Teven went back home to take care of a sick uncle. After going to his third school, he suffered several more injuries. Well, after getting healthy again, Teven went to a 2016 summer camp in Las Vegas and did fairly well but wasn’t picked up by any team or club. Now, he is back in Charlotte, working those two jobs, and is back in school to finish his degree on-line from the University of Virginia.        
When I talked to Teven, it was quite clear that he was very passionate about his determination and desire to step onto the court again. “I play basketball because I love the game with everything that I have”, stated Teven. “The way I keep focused and motivated is to look at how far I have come.” Teven sets a great example of turning any negative experience into a positive frame of reference as well as tuning out any negative distractions, and always remembering why he plays basketball and his love for the game. “The people that say I cannot do something also keeps me motivated and continuously ignites a flame in me to keep pushing.”
The basketball player who perseveres focuses on what he wants to happen and not worry about what he doesn’t want to happen. This player plays for the greater good, and will only ask questions that put him in a more positive, productive and proactive mindset. And the player knows that the only thing he controls is himself – his thoughts, beliefs and actions.
“I look to be an inspiration and make a positive impact on people’s lives every day”, stated Teven. “I’ve turned anything negative into a positive thing; knowing that God has me going this route for a reason.”

I plan to stay in touch with Teven, and will be one of his biggest “cheerleaders” in his quest to play basketball again. Although I don’t buy lottery tickets or gamble in Atlantic City, I would bet on this young man any day. And I hope that there is a coach out there who sees what I see.

Anthony Lanzillo is a mental skills coach to athletes and writes about the mental game of sports. You can check out his work at

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