I often wonder what life would be like if I tried something completely out of the ordinary. Growing up in what many would describe as a “sheltered” upbringing, I didn’t face as many challenges as I do now, and this has shaped the choices that I now discover were perhaps a little easier to make. However, life is certainly surprising, and there are often events or circumstances that one comes across that shape the rest of our lives ahead of us, for better or for worse.
Eban Hyams – basketball player
A few months ago, I had the privilege of conversing with Eban Hyams, a basketball player born in India, of Israeli heritage, who eventually went on to play for the National Basketball League after migrating to Australia as a teenager, and eventually, working with the NBA (National Basketball Association). During our conversation, he mentioned that due to his upbringing in South India, a lot of the kids his age were not into basketball, so the opportunities within the country to pursue his love of basketball did not come naturally. Eventually, he had the opportunity to reconnect with some of his relatives in Australia, who received him as he made the move Down Under. And so began both the opportunities, and the struggle.
I remember growing up watching the NBA playoff games and regular season—but the best part of the game to watch was the Finals. For those who are not basketball aficionados, the game of basketball in the United States is considered entertainment at its best once the Finals, or post-season, begins. Basketballs fans from around the country, and around the world, flock to stadiums, watch games on the jumbotron, standing outside the stadiums, and on their screens, tuning into almost every game. Only the top two teams from the West Coast of the United States, and the East Coast of the United States, end up playing in a best-of-seven series to determine the ultimate winner.
A devastating blow
For Eban, he had high hopes to eventually make it to the NBA, but after a stint playing in the Euroleague, he returned to Australia, only to be sidelined due to injury. This was a devastating blow, which, according to Eban, was the end of his dream to play professionally at the highest level of sports. However, although this setback may have seemed like the end, it wasn’t.
Often in life, we find ourselves at a crossroads - what looks like a mutually exclusive set of options in which we believe we have little control. But, as the saying goes, “obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal” - and sometimes our biggest regrets come from our inability to see beyond ourselves and to look towards the future and realise our potential.
So it was for Eban. He reluctantly ended up moving back to India to figure out his options; but unbeknownst to him, the NBA was actually expanding overseas at the time, in an effort to engage with young students who were interested in basketball. Eban was in just the right place, at just the right time; and was eventually hired by NBA India as their first Director. He was able to travel across the country, speaking at schools about his experience playing basketball, and encouraging young people to get involved in sports, just like he did.
Eban finally returned to Australia and, as a way of giving back to the community, became a professional coach for Charity Bounce, a non-profit organisation organising local basketball clinics and providing training and opportunities for young children coming from disadvantaged circumstances a chance to play basketball for a good cause.
Our lives may seem far from over, and yet, far from making any real difference, at least from our own perspective; but having an outlook of faith that, despite the circumstances, we can look to God for divine intervention—and He will deliver.
That’s a finality worth waiting for.
Joseph Kolapudi is a writer born in Australia to Indian parents, and returned from California where he was studying theology at Fuller; currently, he is working with a missions agency, continuing his love of writing by contributing to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html