What Black History Month Means to Us

Feb 24, 2022
What Black History Month Means to Us

We have always loved Black History Month. Black History Month isn’t just about Black American history, it’s about Black leaders in countries from all around the world, especially from Jamaica where our family is from. Our grandfather, our inspiration, came here as a first generation immigrant with limited resources at a time when taking a risk like this meant risking your life and everything you’d worked for.

Because of that, every year, we would dedicate this month to reading history books, watching movies and having conversations with friends, family and teachers specifically on our ancestors' past to see what they went through to get to where we are today. We’re proud to learn and speak about those that paved the way for us, opening doors and opportunities that didn’t exist for people who look like us. This year, Black History Month feels different, as we have been fortunate to join Overtime Elite, and have a much larger platform to impact change.

The question we often get asked about being the first to join OTE and the first underclassmen to ever turn pro: how did you have the courage to take the risk? Above all, our grandpa showed us that being a risk taker is no easy road. As a social activist, he showed us that fighting for what we believe in is our duty. That is taking a risk. There were a lot of unknowns but after discussing it with our families, praying and reflecting on what we wanted to accomplish as a career, it was a risk worth taking. So this Black History Month, we’re reflecting on the word risk. And the way we see it, the risk we took pales in comparison to the risks that our heroes took before us.

Muhammad Ali gave up his prime fighting years, losing the ability to compete, because he refused to fight in what he believed was an unjust war. That is taking a risk.

Maya Angelou perfected her craft as one of the best poets in American history, despite being sexually abused as a child, living in a society where she was considered second class. That is taking a risk.

LeBron James stood up and said, “I’m more than an athlete,” while he was on top of the basketball world, potentially losing endorsement deals and alienating a portion of his fans. That is taking a risk.

Yes, joining OTE was a risk, but we see it more as an opportunity. We want to use this incredible platform to inspire the next generation of both athletes and fans. We hope that young kids see us and decide that they can make their own path, instead of the one that they’ve been told to follow. When there are serious issues, like police brutality and segregation, we want to have the platform to speak up and impact change. We want to be positive Black role models for the next generation.

We know that our platform only grows if we can accomplish our dreams and make it to the NBA. That’s why we’re so committed to putting in the work and why we see it as a responsibility to get there. The closer we get to accomplishing our dream, the greater impact we have to follow in the footsteps of the heroes that came before us.

We are continuing to grow as educated young Black men. Beyond the court, that means something different for both of us. For Matt, it means being a public speaker for change and for Ryan, counting his passion for poetry and art. We’re constantly trying to push ourselves both on and off the court.

And for that, OTE has been an unbelievable experience. Every day we’re working hard not only to make our family proud, but also Jamaica proud. As first generation Jamaican-Americans we want to be part of the small, but powerful, group of Jamaicans to win an NBA championship.

This Black History Month, we’re doubling down on what drives us to be an OTE athlete. It’s more than just taking risks. It’s about living up to the opportunities we have been given. It’s about taking this responsibility seriously. It’s about living up to the standards so many have set before us. We hope we make our heroes proud.

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