What are your goals and dreams? It’s a simple question that can often lead to complex answers, answers that you may not even be able to give at the moment.
I consider myself very fortunate. I was raised by two very supportive parents who sacrificed a lot, both financially and personally, to make sure I always had everything I ever needed, whether that was endless rides, sports equipment, the latest video games, and most importantly, education.
I’ve never been in a position where I was wondering where my next meal was coming from or being home alone at a time when being home alone was scary as opposed to the best thing ever.
I say all of this to say that even though I’ve never been in a position to fight for survival, I’ve always had a strong desire to outperform my own expectations and be the best version of myself. When I set goals, I not only set out to accomplish them, I strive to shatter them.
Maybe it’s me wanting to constantly prove new things to myself, or not wanting to settle for what’s considered the standard way of living.
Whatever the case may be, I learned to become a fighter in other aspects of my life. I co-founded a digital marketing agency while still in college. What I didn’t have was money. What I did have was larger than life aspirations and expectations for myself. I went out on a huge limb because most people who attend Business School at a major 4 year university leave school with a cushiony corporate job lined up – the $50k starting salary with full benefits and two weeks vacation plus sick days type of job.
Although me and my two partners made a decent amount of money, it was considered a failure. We didn’t have growth strategies, 3-5 year projections, or an established culture. We ended up having to dissolve the company and go our separate ways.
At this point, I could have given up and caved to the conventional 9-5 stable cubicle gig, but instead I gave myself another chance. And that chance paid off with now having 2 offices in downtown Philadelphia, 5 full time employees, another 5 part-time employees, a team of hungry interns, and a diverse client-base that is growing exponentially month-to-month.
These are simply the footnotes of the obstacles and challenges I’ve had to overcome over the past few years to get to where I am today, but the point I’m getting at is nothing is unattainable and you should never settle for anything in life.
My next challenge to tackle is 2K. We all know the never-ending soap opera that is the 2K community, but I’m going to get to that a little later. I want to talk about my team’s journey so you can get a better idea of where we came from.
People always ask me “When and how did you guys meet?” Most of us met on Gamebattles, some met through leagues, and one person is one of my best friends from my high school who until this past fall lived right around the block from me growing up.
But that’s not the cool part. The best part of meeting the Throwdown guys – Pat, Dev, Kiko, Moot, Rudy, Chuck, and now most recently, Gilbert, is that if we all lived in the same city we would be the most tight-knit group of friends — well, actually, we are that anyway. I think “brothers” is a better way of describing it because we are constantly getting on each other for that one physical flaw, bad taste in girls, 2K performance, sports team affiliations, and anything else that we can find to hold against one another. We are capable of fighting like the most toxic boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, laughing like 10 year-old kids who hear a corny joke for the first time, or supporting one another like we all grew up in the same household and share the same DNA.
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors, financial backgrounds, family dynamics, parts of the country, and sets of values. One thing we share is a bond that can’t be broken, a bond that has been developed over years of playing with one another. We all have the burning desire to compete at the highest level and get better at what we do day-in and day-out.
Going to NOLA, and getting there in the way in which we did, “BIG SHOT” is all I’m going to say, just added 100-fold to the family-like admiration and respect we have for one another.
The “haters” who come at us and say “But it doesn’t matter if you got there, you didn’t win $250k. You were just like the rest of us, ended up with nothing…” Those are the people I truly feel sorry for. If it wasn’t for “just getting there”, we would have never met each other in person and competed live in front of a studio audience and tens of thousands of online viewers playing a videogame we grew up playing our friends 1v1 for bragging rights. What else? We wouldn’t have been able to get an all expenses paid trip to a major US city, talk to top-level 2K executives until 5am, experience New Orleans in prime Mardi Gras season, attend All-Star Saturday Night, play IRL basketball with another 2K team, hang out with one of the most down-to earth and rapidly growing Twitch streamers (shoutout to Annoying), have our friends travel overnight from hours and hours away just to watch us play one 20-minute 2K game and listen to Hannibal Buress spew crazy remarks (shoutout to Moot’s roommates, Bwood, Jonah, Carly, Dev’s Mom and everyone else who came out to support us) it meant the world for you guys to be there and support us even through the toughest loss we’ve ever endured, meet an NBA superstar in Paul George, make invaluable (lasting to this date) connections with real E-League Scouts, and most importantly, make memories that will stick in all of our minds until the days we die.
We’re not perfect by any means. Every single person on this team, strongly including myself, have made mistakes that we regret and wish we could take back. Dwelling on these mistakes won’t do us any good, we can only learn from them and continuing growing as people and as a team.
Now, in terms of the 2K community, and where we are headed, I feel like that needs its own 12-part series of blogs, videos, and God knows what else. What are really doing? I think it’s time we all take a long look at ourselves and how we are conducting ourselves, whether on social media, in streams, in our own parties, etc. And the “we” and “our” in this scenario is my team and everyone who is reading this or not reading this who has aspirations of turning your hobby into a career.
Guys, whether you like it or not, scouts are watching us every single night. 2K developers are watching us. What you need to realize is that the NBA is one of the most powerful GLOBAL BRANDS in the world. What you say on Twitter will ultimately reflect right back on these teams if you are lucky enough to get drafted someday. I don’t know why there is a need to constantly try to out-do one another instead of supporting each other. Sure, it makes for great content for people like Famous to make YouTube videos about or internet trolls whose sole purpose in life is to make everyone despise one another for pure entertainment, but every Twitter feud or 20-message long chain trying to say you are a better PG than someone else is one more dent in the side of 2K and the future of competitive eSports for the game we all love.
I get exhausted telling my team to watch what they say on social media, especially Twitter and Twitch. I feel like we’ve gotten better as a whole, but we still have a long way to go to be the professional brand I hope to become one day. If we ever want to be attractive to potential sponsors and partners down the line, we still have a long way to go. I realize that for some, it’s “standing up for what you think is right”, but there’s always a right way to go about it and a not so good way. Sometimes, a response is warranted, such as if you are getting personally attacked for something that doesn’t have to do with the game. But, 9 times out of 10, being the bigger person and stepping away from the situation is the best option. Time heals all wounds, and not matter what it is, everyone moves on eventually. And if they don’t, well, that’s their problem, not yours.
For the people who let their game speak on the court instead of behind a phone, you are the people who are going to have the last laugh. Trust me, let the talkers talk. The more people who talk and talk and constantly put people down and say things that would get them in serious trouble in any corporate environment (which the NBA is), the more spots that will open up for people who may not be as talented, but have the character that is inline with what teams expect, and demand, out of their players (more on this in future articles).
Transitioning into why I’m really writing this article and what has re-inspired me to take Throwdown to the next level as eSports organization is something that I’m sure a lot of you saw coming, but for me, it was never a guarantee. As I’m sure many of you reading this are aware, I’ve been grinding pretty heavily on Twitch since our team came back from Nola. 34 days of streaming to be exact.
34 must be the magic number because, today, I was officially accepted as a Partner by Twitch!
I take tremendous pride and honor in knowing that I’m the first “streamer” who has received a partnership from strictly Pro-Am gameplay. I know that Colt is a Pro-Am player who got it before me, but Colt is equally known for his commentary and Pro-Am assessments as he is for being a player. I respect the hell out of Colt and what he has done and continues to do for the community, but you guys know we are two completely different people when it comes to our streams (lol).
I’m beyond humbled that so many of you come through night after night supporting the team (well, most of you) and what I’m doing to try and grow the community in any ways that I can. I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has come through and been crazy active in my chat, asking me questions, my notification squad, and the people who have for some unknown reason donated their hard-earned money to me just for playing a game that I’d be playing anyway.
The grind is just beginning. There are still so many mountains to climb and (back to those challenges and obstacles) things that I want to accomplish in terms of this game. I’m not in this for the money or fame (I don’t need the money and I hate being the center of attention, I leave that to Dev, lol). I do this because I genuinely care about our team, getting better, winning, having fun, and for your purposes reading this, entertaining an audience of people who are a combination of my competitive peers and a ton of people who are just like me who are always asking me how I’m doing, what’s new, and enjoying the time in which I stream.
I know it’s now cliche to say something like “if I can temporarily take your mind off of the stresses of your real life” during the time I stream, but that’s something I take very seriously. There’s a lot of messed up things going on in today’s society, and many people come to Twitch for an escape from reality. Maybe it’s something as simple as not doing as well as you hoped on a test, or something a little bit more serious like getting out of a long-term relationship. Whatever the case may be, I hope I can make even the tiniest of impact on making your day or night just a little bit better.
Here are just some of the tweets and DMs I get on a seemingly daily basis that keeps that fire alive inside of me to keep grinding and getting better for you guys.
Hakeem is always in my streams showing love, I appreciate this my man!
I’m not sure this person wanted me to expose him, but feel free to comment, you know who you are. Thanks so much bro, I love competing against you when we get the chance. He’s one of the most underrated players on 2K in my opinion.
So once again, thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. None of this would have been accomplished without all of you guys watching, my teammates, 2K, Twitch, and everyone who has supported me throughout this short journey.
Before I end this, I just want to tease something really quick. I know I always say I have a lot planned and never really do anything with it, but I really do have a ton of things lined up, I just have to pull the trigger!
With that being said, one stage of that is I will be opening up applications for internship positions with Throwdown from a social media/marketing/content creation perspective.
A few of these positions include:
- Lead Graphic Designer (FILLED) – @ChaosDesignsINC
- Lead Video Editor
- Social Media Coordinator
- Copywriters (3-5)
- Biz Dev
I’m going to be posting some brief application requirements and expectations in the next few days, but if you want to reach out to me sooner, please fill out this Intake Form and I might give you special consideration for applying early and taking the initiative.
Thanks for reading, thanks for all that you do supporting Throwdown, and keep grinding!
Until next time,