A Short Basketball story

December 12, 2018

by scrap duu

I’m very bold when expressing my dreams and goals to people all the time. But I get nervous and hesitant at first because most people don’t accept or encourage those dreams. I’m scared of rejection and how they will ridicule my idea or desires. I have often quit many times because I haven’t seen the results of my hard work. I am impatient. Noah in the Bible built an Ark that took over 100 years. 100 years!! Now that is faith and patience.......

We all have doubts and doubters. Those that squash our dreams and goals. We all have obstacles that make us weak and want to quit. But through faith, those discouraging people and times will only make you stronger if you continue to perservere, and striving towards your goals whatever they may be.

I have two basketball stories about myself........

My name is Boramey Noung. I am known as Bo because kids kept making fun of my name. I was born on a full moon on October 20, 1977 in Cambodia during the horrific civil war in my country.  A time of great tragedy and death in my country. There was a movie that was made called the “killing fields” about it. I was around one or two years old when my family had to flea for our lives. My birth daddy left us during that time. I never knew him. I’m not sure the reason for all of that. So my mother found her children that were taken to work camps risking her life for us. Long story short, she courageously brought all her children to the United States through faith. I’m giving you this short background for some perspective.

I grew up as an asian kid in majority black neighborhood in College Park. I was short, small, and skinny. I remember I tried to play basketball with the kids in my neighborhood, but I was never good enough to compete because they were so much better than me, bigger, and stronger. So I built a basketball goal in the back yard with the help of my friend Doug Jones. I didn’t have any money and my parents were very poor. So I found a bicycle rim and cut all the metal spokes out and nailed to a wooden board we found and put it on a tree. I had no basketball. But I had a soccer ball. I started practicing shooting and dribbling the soccer ball everyday. I knew nothing about basketball or the rules of the game. So I went to library at school and read as many books I could find to learn about basketball. I was determined to become a better basketball player to show those guys in my neighborhood that I could compete with them. 

We later moved to Riverdale when I was in 6th grade. When I reached 7th grade I felt like I wasn’t good enough to tryout for the basketball team in middle school. I was too scared. But in 8th grade I did tryout. The school offered physical exams so that you could try out for sports. I was not experienced and nervous, so I did not make the team. I was crushed, I thought maybe I’m not supposed to be a basketball player. So I prayed again. I ask the Most to help me. I asked him to make me the best basketball player he wants me to be. My dream was to play in the NBA! The first Cambodian in the NBA! LOL.

I started highschool in 1992 at Riverdale High. The summer between 8th grade and 9th grade I trained non stop. I practiced, practiced, ran, jumped, and ran. I was 5’9/139 lbs in 9th grade. Basketball tryouts was approaching in October of 1992. I was 13 years old turning 14 on October 20th. So tryouts was right after my birthday. I needed a physical exam letter to tryout to able to tryout. My mother said no. She was really against me playing sports especially basketball. And I didn’t tell you my mom remarried in Thailand and I have had a stepfather my entire life. They were very strict about academics, church, and especially the neighborhoods. They were always worried that I would be hurt or influenced the wrong way. They forbid me to play sports! So asked my older brother, who is ten years older than me to help me. He said if mommy said No, then I say No. I cried....... What was I supposed to do? I worked so hard all summer! I prayed.

I told my friend Ray who was in 10th grade, and lived in the neighborhood across from me, that I couldn’t tryout. He said why? I told him I didn’t have a physical exam letter. He said we are about the same size, use mine. He made a copy, whited out his name and I wrote my name in. It worked. I was able to tryout. Now was the tough part. At tryouts, no one passed me the ball so I just decided to get every rebound I could get and just play as hard as I could. I didn’t score many buckets because of that. So when it was time for coach to announce the 9th grade roster, I didn’t think I made the cut. Name after name, he called out. I didn’t hear my name and I was discouraged, but the last name called was “Bo Noung”. My heart leaped out of my chest! I made it!! I did it!! I couldn’t believe it!! I was on the basketball team. Wow. I tried to play it cool by just making a small smile. I ran home with tears of joy!! It was the best day of my entire life at that point!

So practice starts and I was told that I would be playing power forward and center. I was like okay...., really..... We had some really good ball handlers and shooters so they thought I wasn’t up to their skill level. I was just happy to be on the team anyways. When I got my team bag with the warm ups and jerseys, I wore them to bed that night. I was dreaming of my first game. But by the first game I proved to the coaches that I was starter at power forward being only 5’9. I could really jump back then. I was the shortest player on the team.  And most of the guys were over 6ft tall. Some were 6’5, 6’6, and even 6’9 on a 9th grade team. But I was in the starting five. I progressed every game and started scoring more and was leading the team in rebounding. But right in the middle of the season my math teacher Ms. Shaw calls my house. My mom picks up the phone and I was scared. I knew my mom found out that I was playing basketball. After she hung up. My stepdad and my mom said you have to quit or I would be kicked out of the house. My teacher called the house for a pop quiz test that I made an 80 on. An 80! Granted I was a straight A student, but an 80, really. Come on. I begged them to give me a chance. She said No. I was 14 years old, what was I supposed to do, so I quit the team. I cried every night for awhile. I was depressed that my dreams were over. My mother once told me that Micheal Jordan is tall and you are a short Cammbodian kid. You have no future in basketball. Later that year I ended up getting kicked out of the house anyways for playing basketball down the street without permission. 

I moved in with friends and eventually with my two older sisters who were very young and struggling themselves. They had been kicked out for some reasons I won’t talk about. So 10th grade starts and I’m at a new school in North Clayton High. I go back to my old neighborhood and was eager to show off my skills to all of the guys that used to dominate me. It was a joy of satisfaction to beat everyone. They were amazed how good of a player I had become. It was a good feeling to know that all my hard work had paid off.

So I attended  the JV tryouts that fall and I was good enough to make the team and practice with the Varsity squad. I made a good impression on the head coach, and I eventually was told I was going to be on the Varsity roster. But right before the season, I talked to my younger brothers and because of some troubles at home I decided reluctantly to go back home. I found out later that year North Clayton win the 93-94 state championship. My bad luck had continued. I would have had a high school championship ring.

My parents welcomed me back, but my life and highschool basketball career was over. The coach told me that I would never play at Riverdale. So my highschool basketball career was short and over.  So I eventually went to college and dropped out the first year, because at this point my motivation was gone. If it wasn’t for asian basketball tournaments, I would have quit playing basketball all together. It gave me, my joy for the game back!  I didn’t quit. And I’m still playing at age 41, but I have a wife and 6 kids. My dreams slightly changed  now. But it is the same in some way for my kids. I am not a basketball success story. But I haven’t given up.

Recently I have been speaking to the coach of the Cambodian National Team and the organization for Cambodia basketball here in the United States. I been trying to work with them to improve the roster for the National Cambodian Team. They play in an event called the SEA Games every two years. Next year it will be in the Philippines in November 2019. I have asked if they would give me a chance to play on the team next year. It would be the biggest achievement in basketball for myself if they allow me a spot on the team. But because of my age, not believing I’m good enough, and some other reasons they have not given me an answer yet. I know it isn’t an easy decision for them. I totally understand. I will find out pretty soon if I am able to play on the team.

I pray that they would give me an opportunity to end my playing days on high note. It would be so special for me and my family for me coming from Cambodia to be able to wear that jersey to represent my homeland. I couldn’t put it into words. My mother and I have reconciled about basketball. It is a sore topic for me and her. But we have moved on from it. I love her no matter what. I have no grudges. But I know she would be so proud if she saw me being apart of the Cambodian National Basketball Team. But I am worried that they will say No like she did. I’m praying and hoping that the Most High will grant me this opportunity. But if not, it’s okay. I will live. And I will never quit! My kids are watching daddy........, my Heavenly Father is watching me all the time also......

So I can’t quit! I will never quit pursuing my dreams! So don’t you ever quit pursuing your dreams! I haven’t achieved much as a person. But I have developed character and strength from within, thanks to the grace of my Heavenly Father saving me from the shadows of death. Basketball isn’t life. But I thank him for giving me the opportunities to play the game....... Don’t you ever quit, never ever quit.....