Way before his podcast and broadcasting career, JJ Redick was the most hated man in the world of college basketball, mainly because of his searing talent and him donning a Duke jersey. The hate hurled at him affected him so much that he thought of leaving basketball for good.
As early as his sophomore year, Redick thought about throwing away his basketball sneakers and jerseys in exchange for a quiet life. In a heartfelt conversation with his sisters about him, Redick said he entertained the thought of closing his basketball chapter starting writing poetry — the best way to purge his emotions about him.
“My sophomore year I called my sisters to campus during the Christmas break. I told them to come over from Raleigh and they came over and there’s this chicken place. We grabbed a chicken sandwich and I was like ‘I’m done, I want to quit.’ And they’re like ‘What do you mean?’ I just like, ‘I want to be a normal student. I want to go to class. I want to be a frat kid.’ I think I probably said I want to write poetry,Redick said on Bussin’ With The Boys.
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Redick probably would’ve written poems with unfettered and raw emotions. He would’ve probably turned into one of those reclusive artists who have been traumatized by human contact.
Redick’s sisters were able to snap him out of his existential crisis. The guard kept his Duke jersey and sneakers and continued playing. However, as much as his sisters he helped alleviate his pain and confusion, they could only do so much. Redick slipped into a darker depression with beer bottles in hand.
“I didn’t quit. Second semester, I went into a what I would describe as a spiral. I was out every night, nights before games. I would drink 25, 30 beers and show up the next day,Redick narrated.
Redick’s depression ran deeper. It wasn’t just because college kids threw everything at him but the kitchen sink for being an incredible basketball player. Playing college ball at Duke was his biggest dream ever since he was 7-years-old. And it was a harrowing experience to fulfill your dream only to be beaten up physically and emotionally every game night.
“That was my second semester at Duke. I was just out of control. A little bit of it was immaturity and selfishness. A little bit of it was rebellion. Because my whole sporting life since I was seven years old and watched Christian Laettner hit the shot to beat Kentucky. I was like ‘I want to go to Duke, I want to go to Duke.’ It was like a dream come true. And then I get to Duke and I’m like ‘Oh, everyone f***ing hates my guts. This is not what I signed up for,Redick said.
Fortunately, Redick cleared his mind and heart with the help of his coaches, family, and friends. I have played two more years with Duke and became heralded as one of the greatest shooters of all time. After making his mark in the NBA, Redick now has one of the best basketball podcasts out there.