D’Adrian Allen – Finding His Identity in Basketball
For 25-year-old D’Adrian Allen, basketball is more than just a game, it is who he is, it is what made him, it’s his liberator.
“Anytime I’m going through ups and downs, I knew I could touch a basketball get some shots, and I forget everything,” – D’Adrian Allen
Allen grew up in foster care in Brampton, Canada, and struggled with his identity. His parents, he said, chose a different lifestyle that was not conducive to raising a child. So when he was just four years old, he was placed in foster care.
Allen said he spent most of his time in foster care feeling lost, not knowing who he is. Then he was introduced to basketball and it gave him a freedom and an escape that he held on to.
“Being away from your family, your parents, you grow up not really knowing yourself, you kinda sometimes suffer from identity crisis, it was a pretty traumatic experience.
Basketball gave me an identity, basketball gave me a passion, it gave me a motivation to do something better for myself. Nine times outta ten, God knows I couldn’t handle the stress, the pain, but basketball helped with that. It was kinda like a drug,” he said.
I’ve worked with a lot of athletes over the years and often times it is apparent from the time they walk in the gym the amount of additional baggage they are carrying. D’Adrian really surprised me because his big smile, enthusiasm and positive nature made it so we got to see the best of him, even though he was going through some difficult trials of the court. I am very proud of the man he is growing to be! – Wayne Dawkins
Passion for the game
His passion for the sport was ignited when he was six-years-old, playing with friends on courts in his hometown of Brampton, Canada. He then went on to play for his high school-Brampton Centennial Secondary School, then went to the Vaughan Secondary School where he joined the P.H.A.S.E 1 Academy.
“P.H.A.S.E 1 gave me that ground base that helped me with my physical training, taught me how to train hard, and what workouts to do to become a professional. That training is what helped me to get into a junior college in the United States,” – D’Adrian Allen
Additionally, Allen said he was also getting exposure from playing AAU basketball with Grassroots.
Allen attended the Palm Beach Community College in Florida, where he played power forward on its basketball team. He then transferred to the North Idaho Community College, and was then offered a scholarship to attend, and play for the Southern University in Louisiana.
After Southern University won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship (SWAC) in 2016, Allen realized how much he enjoyed being a part of winning teams.
“Winning that’s my favourite thing to do, and winning a championship,” he said, laughing.
“In 2016 we won a SWAC Championship, and we went to SCWA Championship, and that was a good experience. We played against Jackson State, and we won by one point. It was 54-53,” he recalled.
His professional journey started when he was signed to the Macau Black Bears, a Chinese basketball team in 2018. Allen said he played in the pre-season tournaments and was training for the upcoming season, but an achilles injury put a stop to that.
But while he’s at home, healing, Allen is keeping his dreams alive for when he returns to the court.
“I want to sign a contract in the NBA. It could be any team, it could be a two day contract, two week contract. My goal is to get signed under contract,” he said.
But if he gets a chance to be on the same team as his role model, LeBron James, then that would be a dream come through.
“I look up to guys like LeBron James, guys who had to work from scratch, nothing came easy for them. There are numerous players that came from poverty or single parents homes. Life wasn’t easy, they had to go home to home, or move around because of jobs, life wasn’t easy for them. They really know how to work hard, and be great, and make it out of a situation,” he said.
Basketball- a tool
In the meantime, Allen said he’d like to use the sport, and his story to inspire others.
“Basketball was a tool because I realize that I’m blessed, I realize that what I went through, I can help somebody else. I can do personal training, and I can coach and share my experience.
I’m not perfect, I’m still healing like anybody else who goes through traumatic experiences. So I realize that as a tool, I can use my experience to help somebody else, even just a little.
“I’m still present today, I’m still on my journey, and there will be more stories to be told because I’m still very young,” – D’Adrian Allen