Monday, December 2, 2013

Diary Of A Baller: Atiba Taylor (Hackensack, NJ) Entry #1

Atiba Taylor Flying High 

Hello everybody in the basketball world. I am Atiba Taylor Jr., 6’ 2 1/2, 147lbs point guard for Team Izod Sports-U 14U. I would like to thank BBallSpotlight for giving me this platform to allow people insight into my life. I was born and raised in Spring Valley, NY. I grew up in Avon Gardens, a rough area around the way. In Avon, I learned to play street sports in the courtyard, (even though there weren’t any basketball hoops). We would mark an “X” on the building and if you hit it then you scored. 

At five years old, I began playing t-ball, which was my first organized team sport. I quickly realized this was NOT the sport for me because I couldn’t even hit the ball off the tee (ha ha ha)! 

A month after I turned six years old, my dad was in a very bad motorcycle accident, which he was hospitalized for over a year and a half. My dad was the one who saw the potential in me for basketball so when he wasn’t around that put my basketball plans for that winter on hold. 

A year later when I turned 7, my dad took me to a tryout for Spring Valley CYO basketball team; the kids were between the ages of 10 and 11 years old. That was my very first time stepping on a real indoor basketball court. I was sooooo nervous that I didn’t know what to do. I was running around trying to look active and make shots but no one really passed me the ball. So when I got the ball I just shot it from anywhere…LOL! All I could remember was people laughing and pointing at me. I tried my hardest, but my hardest wasn’t good enough against those older kids and so I didn’t make the team. I was so inexperienced and I didn’t have a clue on the fundamentals of basketball. That’s why I relate so much to “Drakes song-Worst Behavior”. If you ever saw the video, Drake was basically paying his respects to his father and family who came from a musical background. He was always getting the door shut in his face and told he wasn’t good enough but now that he has made it and is well respected as an artist, he feels like he’s on his “Worst Behavior”! Meaning, now he has a higher confidence and wears it on his sleeve. I feel the same way about basketball. People always laughed at me and talked about how sucky I was when I was younger. It made me want to work harder than ever to get to where I am today even though I have a really loooooong way to go! I realize the only person I have to be better than is this person I was yesterday…ON MY WORST BEHAVIOR…REMEMBER...LML!!!! 

I played in the Johnnie Boykin Winter League that was held at Spring Valley High School where I finally got my feet wet, playing under the whistle. It was pretty fun playing with my friends and teammates who were closer to my age and I started building confidence in myself. I also played in a local Spring Valley League called RBA. This is where I began getting a little swagger and thinking I was more than decent than I was (ha ha). I started rocking headbands and wearing the stylish high socks like the NBA players…LOL. After playing two years in the JB and RBA Leagues, my parents signed me up to try out for my first AAU Team –The Rockland Rockets. Even though I was 8, I played 10 and under and I did pretty well. We played local against other competitive teams but my dad realized I needed more exposure and felt it was time for me to compete at a higher level. My mom had to do all the running around until my dad was physically able to again. Once he was back on his feet, he bought me down to the Gauchos gym in the Bronx. For two years I played under Coach Wee who pushed me to the limit and forced me to be better than I thought I could be. It was a great experience traveling to different states up and down the East Coast. 

After playing with the Gauchos, in 2010, my mom moved to ATL to accept an employment promotion. It was an emotional struggle with me missing her but I choose to stay here with my dad because of ever thing we had worked so hard for. My dad still reminds me to this day what a huge sacrifice that was for my mom and how she was selfless in allowing me to stay. We moved to Northern Jersey because my dad felt this was the best opportunity for me to excel in education and sports. 

Once I moved to Jersey, I started playing with KSK under Coach Fran. My dad moved me from a wing player to a point guard because he believed that I had true point guard ability. Over the next 2 years Coach Fran developed my skills in this position. I think he is one of the best development teachers in the state of NJ. Although I loved KSK, I was offered the opportunity to receive national exposure with Team Izod Sports-U. My bros/ teammates-Nazi, Jahvon, Luther and Will all left KSK to join the team as well. We were blessed to compete in Utah, New Orleans and other various states that other AAU teams did not get a chance to travel so young. Last season for 13U we had an incredible year, we only lost six games the entire season and one was in AAU National championship game (I didn’t play in two of them due to a broken hand). A lot of kids never make it that far and I’m glad that we did. 

 I’m sure everybody heard that Team Izod broke up at the end of the season and that was kind of true. Nazi and I, joined Team Scan, Jahvon and Justin went to The NJ Playaz Club. Nazi and I left for the wrong reasons but now we are back because it’s more than just basketball; we are FAMILY! I really liked Coach Munch at Team Scan. He was real cool and taught me a lot. I appreciate everything that he has done for me. At the end of the day, I just felt like Coach Reggie and Coach Brian were a better fit for me and understood what I needed as a player. 

Now that The Supreme Team is back together will be getting ready for this weekend’s BBallSpotlight’s Tip Off Classic. I feel if my team plays as hard as we did last season we should have no problem winning the championship! Our defense is what wins games and is a major reason for our success. Last week I really didn’t do too much basketball because I had a lot of homework and my mom came up for the holiday. I had a great Thanksgiving with my family, ate a lot of food and went shopping. Alright…I’m about to hop in the shower and crash…Later