by K. Kozla
On a rainy Tuesday night in New Jersey, Scotty Hopson honored me with a phone interview. I call it an honor because he took time to call me even though he is racing against a countdown clock. This one, however, is not to make the winning shot, but instead is to get all the loose ends tied up before he boards a plane on the way to Greece to play basketball for Kolossos Rhodes. Racing to make sure the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted he, along with Larry Marshall, were moving to ensure that every last potential issue was being preemptively dealt with. However, I felt that he would be able to handle a variety of situations being thrown at him after I spoke with him.
As Scotty was growing up basketball was a part of his life. He told me that, “from the day I picked up the ball I had dreams of being big (in the sport).” I asked him when he started to play in an organized team and if he had players that he looked up to and he told me that he, “started playing organized basketball (when he was) around 8 years old” and continued to expand talking about how he “idolized guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, both who played (his) position, though Kobe was definitely more from his generation and thus more influential on him.
While he had dreams of going big and wanting to play for the NBA he did not realize just how possible that earlier dream of becoming a star was until he reached high school. It was then that he, “started to receive college recruitment letters in (his) freshman year” and he, “realized that (colleges) were interested him,” even at such an early point in high school, “and (he) could turn (his) dreams into reality. So (he) worked on being the best player (he) could be. (He) still does”.
It was then that I started to bring up the man who set up this interview for me, Larry Marshall. I was interested in when he met him, how that all came to be. Scotty told me that it was during a High School game in the middle of the season that he first met Larry. Scotty was a Junior at the time and Larry had been traveling and visiting family. One of Larry’s nephews were playing in the game that Scotty was. Scotty explained that, “during the game (Larry) took notice of me… and after the game he spoke to (Scotty), got information about (Scotty) and talked to (his) mother and family.” That was where the relationship started and Scotty came to New Jersey to train with Larry here.
Scotty and Larry’s relationship has been growing over the last five plus years. When I asked Scotty what kind of effect Larry had on his life I could hear the smile on his face. He enthusiastically responded, “A great deal, not only on my training, but life skills. He mentors me on life and family on and off the court. He has always been there for me for anything, ANYTHING, that I need and has even been there for my mother and what she needs. I can always turn to him for advice. He’s like a father figure to me”
He brought up how life has not always been as smooth as he may have liked saying that being undrafted helped him mature as an individual and grow as a person, but when I asked him ultimately where he would like to be he said, “Well, I am where God wants me to be. A lot of times in life you may have things you do not want to go through, but you need to in order to be the best person you can be. I need to be right where I am.”
Humble and focused Scotty is getting ready for the next adventure in his life. With the drive and desire that he has I know that he will go far on and off of the court. He is an amazing example not only of good sportsmanship, but of being a good human being. I do not think that there is anything that Scotty couldn’t do if he put his mind to it.
Godspeed, Scotty, and safe travel overseas. I can only hope that Greece realizes the treasure they are getting.