The Perfect Storm

During the past seven months, I have experienced four life-changing events: 1) Hurricane Dorian striking my home in Freeport, Bahamas, 2) the game-winning basket against No. 1 Duke University, 3) an incredible GoFundMe account that raised more than $150,000 and 4) the rebuilding of the church and school in my home country.

1) Hurricane Dorian, the most intense storm on record to strike the Bahamas, made landfall Sept. 1. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in my country’s history — a Category 5 storm with wind gusts clocked at more than 200 mph. Storm surge of up to 23 feet swept away many buildings and destroyed a large part of the area, including the school in Freeport where approximately 600 children attend and the church where my father serves as preacher. Although I’ve been living in the United States since 2012, the Bahamas will always be my home. It’s where my roots run deep, where my family resides and where my history began. After the storm, I wanted to go home to help my family. We lost our home and almost everything else, but my parents insisted I stay and finish my senior year. That’s when I decided I was going to dedicate this basketball season to the Bahamas and raising awareness about what was happening there. However, I had no idea what God had in store to make that awareness effort a reality.

2) The Duke University Blue Devils were a 28-point favorite as we took the court Tuesday, Nov. 26, in Raleigh, North Carolina. With Thanksgiving just a day away and many people watching the game on national television and through live video feeds, we were determined to make SFA proud. None of us realized just how unbelievable that game was going to be. With about 10 seconds left in overtime and the score tied at 83, my teammate, forward Gavin Kensmil, scrambled for the ball. He came up with it and made an outlet pass to me. I caught it and ran toward the basket, just trying to keep the ball secure. I glanced up and saw the clock — 3 seconds remaining. As I approached the basket and started to make the layup, I prayed it would hit the rim. It did and fell into the basket before the buzzer. The rest is history. I have never felt such exhilaration. Our team and coaches were ecstatic. The victory celebration began, and during the next several days, I was interviewed by many national television outlets, which helped bring attention to the devastation in the Bahamas and the needs of the people who live there.

3) Although the GoFundMe account to help rebuild the school and church had been established in early fall, it had only raised about $2,000. Following the Duke victory, it started to dramatically increase. During the next few days, it climbed from $30,000 to $50,000 to $100,000 — eventually topping out at more than $150,000!

4) I never expected the donation amount to end up where it did, and thanks to everyone who donated, we have been able to make significant progress toward rebuilding the church and school. The church is almost completely finished, and the majority of repairs have been made to the school. The kids are now back in class, and worship services are able to continue. God has been so good.

There is no way I can express my gratitude to everyone who donated. The story that started so tragically has progressed to one of hope, kindness, generosity and love. When I think back upon the past several months, I can’t help but consider how all of this came together — the horrible hurricane that left so much devastation, the toss of a basketball to me to make the game-winning basket with a fraction of a second left in a game against the No. 1 team in the nation, and people from all over the world hearing my story and so graciously giving to help those they didn’t know rebuild their lives. None of this happened by accident. The fact that all this occurred just a day before Thanksgiving also was not by chance. Sometimes, we don’t understand why things happen. It’s easy to despair. But, if we have hope and look for the silver lining — even in the worst weather — we may find it was a perfect storm after all.