No Place Without Space by Lansana Nwosu
One of the most important things a person can do in life is figure out their purpose. The sense of direction and a clear vision of where you want to go makes the trials and tribulations of life slightly more bearable. As a young black man growing up in North America and having to start out my life in some of the most notoriously dangerous neighbourhoods in Canada, the odds of me making it out of that place were close to none. Growing up I always struggled to find my place. I always knew that I wanted to play in the NBA and had a deep love and devotion towards basketball. It did not take me long to realize that the decision would have a huge impact on which places I was able to be a part of. There was a constant push and pull of wanting to fit in and doing what everyone else was doing versus striving towards my goals and doing what I felt was right. Because of that I was always isolated, the odd man out, the loner, the ‘weird kid’. I rarely felt a sense of belonging in many places, but the one place I did find comfort in was with a basketball on the basketball court. Basketball is my place, it never changes, the ball bounces up and drops back down, I shoot it and it either goes in or it misses. Basketball never cared if I was sad, happy, angry, rich, poor, hungry, in love or heartbroken. It always stayed the same. It held its place when I was successful and everyone loved me and it held its place when I was down and struggling and everyone disappeared. Basketball has taken me all over the world to cities I never thought I’d be in, has let me meet people I never thought I’d meet, and has helped me grow more than I ever thought I would. Full scholarships, long-lasting friendships, and life lessons are just a few of the things basketball has given me.
While you’re reading this you may be asking “what exactly does the love of basketball have to do with ‘place’?” My sense of place and belonging came with wherever basketball was willing to take me. I am forever grateful to be able to continue my journey and play professionally.It is a dream come true. To me, what is most significant about ‘place’ is having a deep comfort of knowing that you belong. We all have a yearning to find the place that we fit in the most, once you’re able to find it, it is like living in bliss. Fittingly, the ‘place’ I found through basketball, The University of British Columbia Okanagan, a ‘place’ I never thought I’d be a part of, a ‘place’ where I had the opportunity to grow as a person, and a ‘place’ to truly find out who I am.
I chose the title “No Place Without Space” because I would have never found my ‘place’ if I wasn’t isolated based off my purpose. I had a lot of time to myself at the gym, on the basketball court, recovering, and watching film allowing me to focus on my goals. I missed out on get-togethers, parties, and social events. It seemed like I had no time for anything extra that wasn’t part of my goals. For that aspect of my life I am extremely grateful because growing up it was difficult, but as I got older I started to realize that the space gave me a sense of ‘place’. The space helped me weed out people that didn’t respect or want to be a part of my ‘place’, the space gave me a wider perspective on what mattered and what did not. The isolated, odd one out, “popular loner”, weird kid was one of the best blessings because it allowed me to reach my goals and now I’m striving for more. The space allowed me to play professional basketball and I hope that it will allow me to reach my ‘place’ of playing in the NBA.
I’m grateful that UBCO was one of the ‘places’ I encountered in my journey because it gave me a perspective that I never would have gotten otherwise.
To end it off, I’d like to finish with a small poem:
“You may work through the day, but at the end, lay with grace
Because it’s about shooting your shot, not about the misses or makes
You will face ups and downs, pushes and pulls, gives and takes
But for hardship and frowns it’s important to get up and end with a smile on your face
If you fall down 7 times, dust yourself off and rise for an 8th
Because life is a celebration and sometimes the struggle is the cake
For the times life gives you twists and turns and forces you to bend, but you will not break
This life is a marathon, left foot in front of the right, keep the pace and tie up your lace
Because this is your race, and you get out of it what you make
But through the tough times it gets better, always remember: “There is no ‘place’ without space”
About the Contributor
Born in Cairo, Egypt but grew up predominantly in Toronto and graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of Arts: Art history. Went to Eastern Florida College and Kilgore College on a full scholarship for basketball, earning two state silver medals and a silver medal at the NJCAA National Tournament. Currently, he is playing professional basketball. Outside of basketball, he is involved in music, modeling, and acting. He was featured in Vancouver clothing brand Reigning Champ’s campaign with billboards shown in a variety of places including, but not limited to: Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, and Japan. He was also featured in many commercials nationally and even had an EP “The Born Prince” reach over 100,000 streams on Spotify by the name artist name “6K”. As a hobby, he founded a clothing brand, “6K” where 15% of profits help the less fortunate.
Image provided by Lansana Nwosu