On the Court: How Basketball Changed My Life


Isaiah Manning, staff writer, talks about how basketball changed his life.

Isaiah Manning, Staff Writer

In the summer of 2016, I started my first ever select basketball season. At the time, basketball didn’t seem like the sport for me. I lacked coordination, couldn’t shoot to save my life and my parents were sure I’d be done playing in the next year.

But I wasn’t. 

Something about the game of basketball drew a different kind of love out of me than anything else. Putting up shots, as much as I missed them, I enjoyed more than almost anything else. I would go to the park and work on my left-hand layups for hours. A pure desire to be greatly associated with basketball that I couldn’t replicate anywhere else.

My late grandfather, John Harper, can take most of the credit for my love of the sport. Whenever he came into town we always used to go to the park and play. Although he was older, my grandfather embodied an athletic man standing around 6’6” 215 pounds. He taught me some of the fundamentals, but more than anything else the importance of loving what you do and always hustling and working towards your best. This inspiration, not just in basketball, but in all of life is a big part of what has molded me into the person I am today.

Fast forward to Sep. 12, 2020. I walked out of my bedroom at around 10 a.m. ready to go workout when my parents told me I should call my AAU coach. I didn’t think much of it because we had a workout that day, but it seemed suspicious because both of them couldn’t seem to stop smiling. When I got on the phone, my coach didn’t greet me with the normal “Wassup Zay.” Instead, he told me he had big news, that I received my first scholarship offer to the University of Texas at Arlington. It felt like I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

A little under a year later I received my second scholarship offer from Troy University, and in the next four months I had worked up to 10 division one full scholarships. It’s a blessing to be in this position, and it is a culmination of my hard work and the amazing people around me willing to help me in whatever way they can.

Entering this school season, I looked to build on the portion of personal success I had reached as well as be successful as a team. We are currently 10-2, and we just won our first tournament of the year. I received the honor of being tournament MVP, and it was great to see two of my teammates also named to the All-Tournament team.

Now, I continue to work every day to build on where I am. My parents have always told me that success’s worst enemy is complacency, so I know to never get comfortable when things are going well, but instead to keep working to make them better. Basketball has provided me with a tremendous amount of opportunities, and I am thankful to have made the right decision to stick with it. The love of this sport extends from not only on the court but also to the community and friendships that I have created through basketball. 

Basketball to me has always been so much more than a game.