Followers of J. Cole at the surface level as a rapper, or fans that have followed him in-depth and know his story and rise, are all well aware of what basketball means to him.
Throughout his career in the music industry, he has compiled a multitude of basketball-related references within his lyrics (and via project covers) that tie his passions together; both basketball and music.
The Fayetteville, North Carolina native has juggled the balance of wanting to pursue both since he fell in love with rap at the age of 13, as he penned in his detailed passage via The Players Tribune back on July 20th of 2020.
High-School: He was cut both his freshman year of high school, but tagged along as team manager. A year later, his sophomore year in highschool, the he would get the same result. After making the team his junior year, he rode the bench. He then made the team again his senior year as an integral piece of their deep roster, and eventually made the starting lineup by the end of his senior year
College: At St. John’s University, he missed the chance to tryout his freshman year. His Sophomore year, he made it as one of the final 10 on the last day of walk-on tryouts, before deciding to forego the opportunity, realigning his focus and efforts with music, which where his intentions when taking his leap of faith from North Carolina to New York. He would decide to practice with the women’s basketball team while also playing in the intramural men’s leagues on campus.
As the successes in the music realm came to fruition, the flame of first passion never died. Cole’s foresight and inner-belief that he could manifest these deepest desires has gone unwavered.
From his increasingly popular basketball shoe with Puma (RS-Dreamers) that you can see multiple variations of in any given NBA game, to conversations with Master P (in two separate pre-season stints, played for both the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors) who’s the only rapper to make it to the NBA, and the many surfaced videos of him in the lab with trainers and NBA players, it’s clear what his intentions are.
He’s now earned an opportunity in the process of fulfilling his lifelong dream of making the NBA, via the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League. Cole will be playing for the Rwanda Patriots B.B.C. as reported by The Undefeateds Marc J. Spears.
His first mixtape, released back in 2008, was titled “The Come Up.” It served as a springboard in his ascension to the top of the rap game.
This opportunity to play professionally in Africa for “3-to-6 games, the first of which on Sunday” per The Athletics Shams Charania, could serve as the same opportunity that “The Come Up” did, only in alignment with his basketball endeavors.
This busy week also includes the release of his next album titled “The Off-Season,” releasing Friday.
A man on a mission, where it goes remains to be seen. What is known is that he’s leaving no stone unturned in his ambition. The embodiment of a Dreamer.