THE JOURNEY BACK HOME

Written by Jared Thomas
07/09/20

Growing up in Indianapolis was all I knew. From the age of 4 when I first picked up a basketball, sports became my canvas for expression with Indianapolis as my studio. How does a kid’s dream fit into the parameters that society has placed on you?

His name is Jesus Christ. He was, is and always will be the conductor of my life. He is who I point to first because He comes before anything or anyone else. It was growing up in the church when I learned that my parents became stewards over my life once I stepped into this world. My stewards are April Thomas and Michael Thomas. These two are examples of black love, positive trailblazers and pillars of sacrifice and transformation.

 
image0.jpeg
 

At the expense of my parents sacrifice was a private school education at St. Richard’s Episcopal School from Kindergarten until 8th grade. What some might categorize as a suggestion to participate in the Center for Leadership Development (Project Mr.) Program was actually alparental guidance that later afforded me a full tuition scholarship to Cathedral High School. But whether it was my childhood filled with 1 on 1 basketball training or winning the Phil N. Eskew and Blake Ress Mental Attitude Award my senior year of high school following a football state championship - Indianapolis was always right there. It was the place that supported me through success, failure, embarrassment, growth and ambition.

I think I can speak for all college athletes that going away from home for college presents a new world of challenges for an 18-year-old kid. You become accustom to one way of life and then you up and leave, but those ties to your hometown never leave you. You even begin to imagine the love you’ll get when you go home for breaks or family gatherings - content because an empty void is filled. But what if you play in the Big Ten and your hometown was the host of the conference championship every year? Or even better, what if on November 10, 2018 your team clinches a trip to your hometown for the conference championship?

 
image1 (1).jpeg
 

The bus ride from Evanston to I-65 South and Lafayette Road where we were greeted by a police escort and an IndyCar (the same route I took to school every day), getting interviewed in front of the Westin Hotel as I got off the team bus, spending time with my family in the hotel lobby, the sea of purple as we left for Lucas Oil Stadium are all the accessories that won’t be erased from my memory. But the main course? That’s the love I felt throughout the entire game. Seeing, hearing and being in Indianapolis on that stage was like riding a bike, once I started feeling the energy in the crowd and knowing that I was home, I could’ve played forever.

So much of what Indianapolis has done for me I felt was paid back on that December 2nd day in 2018. It felt like the perfect highlight of my collegiate career, a career filled with success but not worth noting without that trip to Indianapolis. Not everyone will understand what Indianapolis means to a native like myself, but stay tuned for the remainder of the story!

 
image0 (1).jpeg
 
LOGO%252520FINAL_edited_edited_edited.pn