by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13

This is the second and final installment of Deron Cherry (@DeronCherryJr) and his journey through tough times.

Sometimes people like Mr. Cherry are overlooked because they aren’t in the NBA (they aren’t famous, so who cares?). More people should care, because Deron has overcome obstacles that most NBA players certainly don’t endure.

Mr. Cherry falls down seven times, but gets up eight.

The beauty of this game that we love is that each player has their own journey at every level, and this journey helps shape them as a person. Everybody has their own stories about how they made this team, how they won that championship, or hitting that game-winning shot.

Cherry’s inspiring story is certainly worth a read.

*****

by Deron Cherry

I had a unique opportunity to volunteer at Deion Sanders’s Prime Time Achievers summer camp as a youth basketball coach. My father, Deron Cherry, played in the NFL for 11 seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs, and I’ve known Deion since I was 5 years old. On the other side of things, basketball has enabled me to meet so many people who I would otherwise not have had the pleasure of meeting. Nancy Lieberman, Larry Drew and Bob Hill are just a few of those people. The passion I have for basketball, and the heart I have for the youth led me to volunteer. I’ve always enjoyed working and mentoring the youth, because I realize the importance of kids having good role models to follow as they grow and mature. I had several of these mentors and role models growing up, and I really enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community and to invest in young kids’ lives. I know that basketball gives us a platform to reach so many people. It gives us the level field to communicate with the youth based upon our common interest and love in the game.

I want to start my own charity centered around mentoring and helping the youth through coaching the game of basketball. I’ve always had a heart for this since I was young traveling around with my Dad in his charitable ventures. I am pursuing basketball as my career and to provide for myself and, for my family in the future, but I also realize that to whom much is given much is expected. Hall of Famer and friend Deion Sanders explained it best when he said, “If your dream isn’t bigger than yourself, then something is wrong with your dream.”

I’ve always set goals for myself, and I set them high—that way I have to work as hard, or harder than I think I’m capable of, to reach them. I have to stretch myself out, and the measure of my heart is revealed for myself and the rest of the world to see.

Sometimes success in this life truly comes down to how badly you want it.

I’ve endured different injuries throughout my basketball career. I’ve had to fight for every minute of playing time that I received in college, and I had to grind out the tryout process for the D-League before I landed a spot on the practice squad. I’m a firm believer in hard work, and in an intense focus on the preparation aspect of the game. It’s through preparation and hard work that I gain my confidence to go out and perform at my best each and every day I step foot on the basketball court. I know the pressure of expectation because I endured that during my senior season at Park after my successful end to my junior season. I also know the other side of the equation where you have to show up every day and fight to see the court.

I believe that my spectrum of experience has helped me appreciate the game more, but also has given me the hunger to continue on my quest to play professionally and make a living from this game that I love. I’ve had some trying times, but I’ve always been confident in myself and believed that when I get the opportunity to display my talents that I will not disappoint those who put faith in me, but also not disappoint myself. I will put far higher expectation and pressure on myself than anyone else will be able to impress upon me. In the trying times, and the disappointments along the road I’ve always garnered strength from my loved ones, friends and more importantly, my faith.

So at this time I’m focusing on working on my game and making sure I stay in shape, anxiously anticipating that opportunity to display my talents for a team. I was fortunate enough to meet an ex-NBA and European Basketball Professional player by the name of Michael McDonald, who offered to help me get in contact with an agent who has been working on my behalf over the past month or so. I’ve stayed persistent and have prayed up regarding my pursuit of this game. God has blessed me in so many ways through the incredible people I’ve been surrounded by these past few years.

I hope that the perseverance and truly giving myself to the never giving up on your dreams can be an inspiration not only to kids growing up, but to those in my same shoes looking to continue playing this great game that we love that has given us so much in return for the respect and honor we give it.

I know so many people who give up when they get so close to their goals and if I am able to exemplify that hard work and belief can get you to your goals when the odds are against you then I will be extremely satisfied. I came out of a small NAIA school, and I didn’t play basketball in high school. I started playing this game in college and felt that talent, hard work and character still mean something in this world, and in this business.

Height, weight, speed, strength, and leaping ability all have a unit of measure, but the one thing that is immeasurable is a person’s heart.

So I play and fight to begin my career playing basketball not solely for myself, but for those who share my battle, that have gone through the pain, frustration, and put in the work necessary to achieve their dreams—because I understand that we can’t do anything alone in this life. We all have to rely and draw motivation from each other.

I’m drawn so much from those around me. Keep positive influences in your life, and cut out all the negative influences that would hinder you from getting where you desire and dream to be. No matter what life throws your way, never lose confidence—and always believe in yourself.

**Deron will keep updating SLAMonline throughout his journey over the months and years to come. We wish him well along the way and appreciate the hard work that he has put into the game. There are teams interested in his services, but there have not been any formal offers from any teams in America or overseas. As he has proven in the past, he will put the necessary work in to reap the benefits in the future.