WAXHAW (QUEEN CITY HOMETOWN) — “Basketball saved my life.”
With enough repetition, it becomes instinctual. So, when doubt and exhaustion settle in there’s still a way forward.
“Now handle the pressure, handle the pressure,” shouted Tamar Slay.
“I tell my kids this All the time, I love the process more than the games. I love being in the gym by myself and just working so hard,” said Tamar.
The drills that truly changed his life were taught to him by someone on the sidelines.
“She never complained- right. She never felt sorry for herself, she always figured it out and that’s a winner,” said Tamar.
From five years old on, his life has been basketball. He was a high school basketball star who won a state championship and player of the year in West Virginia. On the court, he was unstoppable, but at home, things were the opposite.
“The candles were lit and I remember seeing my brother was angry, upset and depressed, and my mom was with her head down,” remembered Tamar. “That’s when the hero (complex) started to kick in. I’m getting my mom out of this. I was like we’re not going to suffer any more like this.”
There were countless times growing up when they didn’t have power or water. At one point, they lost their home and were homeless.
“If we had our power turned off, we didn’t have water, didn’t have food to eat- she always found a way to win,” said Tamar.
Tamar’s mom, Phyllis, always pushed forward. So, Tamar did too. He went from being homeless at 18 to later playing in the NBA and Europe.
“I changed the generational curse in my family. My dad is great now- he’s no longer in the streets. My brother owns his own company,” said Tamar.
Now he’s coaching his sons, along with dozens of other kids who just love basketball.
“I’ve never told a kid now, I tell all my parents at every meeting we have, if you have any issue with anything as far as my price is, let me know,” said Tamar.
At ‘Slay Basketball,’ he gives out 30-40 scholarships every year.
Coaching was never part of his plan, but what he learned over and over again brought him here.
“I can teach you technique, I can’t bring your heart,” Tamar told his players.
At the end of every practice, he gives a speech to his players. This one… was from the heart. Something he learned from his mom.
“You’ve got to bring your heart. Is that a deal?”