Why It’s Time to Redefine the Comeback Story | Jay Williams on Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Why It’s Time to Redefine the Comeback Story | Jay Williams on Impact Theory".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
- Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. You were here, my friends, because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. All right, today's guest is one of the most accomplished college basketball players of all time. He's a two-time college player of the year, unanimous pick for the 2002 All-American First Team. He's a three-time Duke All-American, and he rocked his time at Duke so hard that they retired his number, and it now hangs in the rafters with their other legends. And it didn't end there. He was drafted number two overall by the Chicago Bulls and the 2002 NBA Draft. He took over Michael Jordan's locker and became the face of the future of the team. His success was also financially transformative. He was a multi-millionaire. By the time he was 21, he was dripping in cars, clothes, and cash from his lucrative endorsements, and the millions that he was banking per year allowed him to put his parents on payroll, erasing all of their struggles with money as well. He had it all. Then, in an instant, he found himself bleeding to death, laying next to his destroyed motorcycle, and like that, it was all gone. He had crashed into a utility pole going 70 miles an hour without any protective gear. His pelvis and left leg were ruined, over 10 surgeries and months in the ICU were required just to stabilize him, and it was unclear if he'd ever walk again. After years, years of grueling rehab, he still failed to make his much-dreamed about come back to the NBA, realizing that he was now without the sport that had come to define him.
Jay'S Journey And Challenges Overcome
Jay's story (01:31)
He slid into the grips of depression, and rebuilding emotionally proved even more difficult than coming back physically. It was a fight so brutal that it would see him attempt suicide twice. But today, not only is he still here, he's thriving, having pulled himself from the depths of depression to carve an incredible new path as one of the most popular ESPN analysts, a much sought-after motivational speaker, entrepreneur and member of the board of USA Basketball. So please help me in welcoming the king of transformation, the managing partner of the leverage agency, the author of the beautiful, raw, and uplifting autobiography, life is not an accident. The unstoppable, J Williams. - Thanks for having me. - I really appreciate it. - My pleasure. - You're a fan of yours too. - Dude, that goes in equal measure, right? - That was one hell of an intro. - Wow. - Reading your book, the way you open it is so powerful, but like, the writing is amazing. So forget that the story in and of itself is like, awe-inspiring and transformational. It's just well-written, man, so crazy kudos. - Thank you. - And that really was what fed into the intro was, it's this beautiful narrative, and you really take people on this crazy emotional journey. I think the most powerful gift that you could give our audience would be to talk about, like, what does it take to come back mentally from, okay, hey, I'm gonna be the next big, I mean, you literally were the next big thing. It goes away in an instant and you have to rebuild. What is that process? - Wow. I think the first thing is recognizing that you are not what you do, right? And for me, this monumental thing I was able to accomplish as far as getting drafted was a dream come true, just not for me, but for all these young guys that get drafted, NFL, MLB, NBA, you win a lottery, your family feels like they've made it. So you carry this weight of, I'm the way out for everybody. So it took me a very long time to find out who the hell Jay Williams was without the sport of basketball. But I think one of the things that I did that was extremely beneficial is that, I love business, right? And my dad worked for AMX for 20 plus years, and that was one of our goals. The more money I made in basketball, I just wanted to use that platform to leverage to build a business. I had no idea what business that was yet.
Building a Board of Directors (04:19)
We were still ideating in the process of me playing. But when my accident happened, after I went through multiple surgeries, one of the things that inspires me is when you see businesses that have really good boards, and all the CEOs I've ever met, if you talk to them a day or two before they're going into their board meeting, they're nervous, right? They're anxious, they're palms are sweaty, because they have to present to the board members about where the company was, where the company is, and where the company is going, and the steps that he took in order to help the company, either to their demise or to their benefit. So it was the first time I started thinking about myself, wow, why don't individuals hold themselves to the same level companies do? And I started thinking, who's on Jay Williams' board? And at the time, you know, I talk about this in my book, 'cause I was 23 years old, couldn't play basketball anymore, I had a 17, 18 year old drug dealer who was on my board, right, it was a guy that just ended up talking to it, I still was taking OxyContin because I was addicted to it from my accident. I had friends who were doing careless things who were on my board. I didn't have the foundation of the people that needed to help me be where I want it to be. And it was the first time I started looking at that and saying, okay, you know, I'm gonna have multiple boards, I'm gonna surround myself with people that make me better, if that was Pastor Carl, who is like a brother to me who runs Hillsong United, right, that church and helping me be a better human being, right, with the women who were in my life or just finding God or whatever that may be, even with my own business, like CEOs like Carl Liebert, who I saw the way he was with his family, there was no, he balanced going to work and then his family, the importance of family and how much he loved his wife and his kids. And I started building up my board, and ever since I built out my board, they've helped me accountable. And it was gruesome 'cause I went through the process of going through my, you know, the negatives and the positives and them telling me, well, look, you lie, you lie for random reasons, a little petty white lies that you didn't even need to tell, you're not accountable, you say you're gonna be somewhere, you don't show up, you're late, you get depressed very quickly if I challenge you and you're hearing all this stuff and as I'm writing this stuff down, it really resonated with me. I was like, wow, okay, these are some of my weaknesses that the people around me who love me, who have done things the right way see in me and how do I work on those? And that was the first step in me taking towards me, finding out who I was and where I want it to be. - Where'd you develop that sense? Like, here you've taught, so having read the book, I know that when you say you were depressed, like you were-- - You're not depressed. - Right, legitimately trying to kill yourself. So the, to be able to then bring people into your life, not to Molly coddle you, but to like really force you to look at the things that you're doing wrong. And I'm gonna guess that that's also what made you great at basketball. How did you develop that sense of, I actually need to get good. Like, it's not enough to tell a story, I actually have to be better at whatever than anybody else. - Well, that was a gift in the curse of my mentality when I played. I was always a kid that didn't receive the recognition early in my life, everybody else got it. So, you know, for me, I remember the first time I got my first letter from a college was going into my junior year, and my head coach in high school got a Mark Taylor, still love you to this day Mark, but he was like, you need to commit to Fordham. You need to go to Fordham right now. I don't know if the opportunity is gonna be better for you. You remember thinking to myself, wow, okay, do I commit to the first school? That sent me a letter, or do I, I was tattooing my wrist, where actually the first time I tried to commit suicide, I tried to cut my wrist that says believe, 'cause my mother's always talked about either, if you don't believe in yourself, then who's going to believe in you? And I think that was one of the benefits of being an athlete that was always overlooked, in my opinion, it forced me to work harder, it forced me to put my head down. Now, there's some disadvantages to that too. You can get lost in the work process and not be present to some of the things that are happening in your life, but I think that mentality and being around people that inspired me, not by their words, but more so by their actions. I hear a lot of people talk every single day, and I was one of these guys, Tom, when I was playing. You know, at 21 years old, you have no idea who the hell you are. You're trying to learn on the process, and you try to do things the right way, but I think for everybody, you get into this preachy thing about, look at me and look about what I do. And I started not to listen to what people said, but started to watch how people acted, and how they interacted with other people, and that helped me set the bar for where I wanted to be. - You've talked a lot about that notion of like setting the bar on the board, or people that hold you to a higher standard.
Being Relentless (09:02)
Is that like a core belief for you, like that you're only gonna succeed like at whatever level you put the bar? - I don't know if I have a bar anymore. I think I just, I always wanna get better. I think I'm a little bit relentless in that capacity, which can be draining for some people. - For people like romantically people? Like, is that what you mean? - I think both. You know, this is actually the relationship that I'm in now is probably one of the most challenging relationships that I've ever been in, because she forces me to address issues. I mean, we all have issues, right? To some degree, and there are issues I have relationship-wise too. But when somebody forces you to address and you allow yourself to be vulnerable and you try to communicate the worst parts about who you are, that overall, that sheds you, right? It's so rewarding to almost feel like you're coming clean. That's what writing my book was for me. Nobody knew I tried to attempt at suicide. I thought that gave insight into my weakness. But then you start talking to other friends. One of my really good friends who was my lawyer got a divorce. His wife up and left him, really didn't go through therapy. Just kind of on the whim was gone. And I started thinking about, for the first time, wow, that's his accident. I'm watching him go through the same thing I went through just in a different vertical, a different silo. So helping other people address their issues, while I'm still learning myself, I'm only 35 years old. I don't have all the answers too. So I think I'm starting to appreciate the process. And I found relevance in the process of, it's not always going to be easy. There are going to be challenges. There's still going to be curveballs thrown at me. But I can't become introverted. I have to continue to get outside myself because when you're uncomfortable, that's the only way you're going to grow. - Right. - I love that. And those are words to live by, in my opinion.
One of the things that I loved about your book that you were just touching on is, you were crazy raw, crazy vulnerable. And in that, it made me trust you. Which one thing that I find is, when you lower your defenses, you're not trying to posture, there's so much power in that. I want to read you one of the quotes that you put in your book. 'Cause this was the moment where I was like, "Okay, I'm with you now." Like up 'til that point, like I was trying to understand. But then when I read this, I was like, "I'm with you." If I tell you I've made peace with this, don't believe me. I will never be fully a peace, knowing that my fate wasn't for lack of talent or an erosion of skill caused by age, but rather a direct result of one stupid decision that refused to release its hold on me. How do you think about that? 'Cause you've talked about, where are, if it's not that you've made peace with it, like what is your relationship to what happened? It's an ongoing process.
Half time (12:00)
I'm not gonna tell you, it doesn't piss me off sometimes when you're watching the game. And more so for the love of the game now, than for the monetary value that came along with the game. I think for 10 plus years after my accident, I held a lot of animosity because I see guys that I was better than, that I thought I was better than, I thought I was better than everybody. I mean, that's, it can't, you have to be crazy to be great at something, right? And seeing these guys that were signed, it's $135, $150 million contract. And that used to sit with me so I'd be so angry about it. Like the guy doesn't deserve that. I know things that that guy does, and not that I was saying that stuff out publicly, but that's the conversations you have in your mind. And you start having this conversation with yourself and God, like, you know, why the hell me? Like, what did I do to deserve this pain for the rest of my life? So it did sit with me, it still does sit with me to a certain degree. I'm not angry about it anymore, but I still miss the game that was once my safe haven. You know, for me growing up, Tom, like, you know, my, every relationship is different, okay? My dad worked a lot, he spent a lot of time in New York City. My mother went back to school while she was a guidance counselor to finally become principal. There is a history of domestic violence in my house. I think learning about who I was, and why I made my mistake, allowed me to open my eyes up to finally forgive my father about the mistake that he made with my mother. Now, I don't know if my mother will forgive my father for that, but for me, it was a process of learning about life in general and about, hey, who I was 15 years ago, maybe I wasn't trying to be the best version of me.
Domestic violence (13:28)
It's amazing how many people you talk to don't actually think for a second about trying to become better. You're so busy in the minutiae and the clutter that you're running through your life with your head down. And it was the first time I had to sit and evaluate. And that process within itself is rewarding, peaceful to my soul and my spirit, but still drives me, 'cause I still know I have such a long way to go and I have to continue the process and never stops. - Right. Yeah, I mean, I really, in fact, I'll just address this directly to you guys, read the book. Like there, when you see the way that he can talk about the fact that there was domestic abuse and yet still clearly paint the picture of how not okay that is and yet how much love there was still in the household. Like, I'll never be able to capture it, but in the book, it was really incredible. And it was one of the ways that you, I felt like you were coming to terms as sort of the imperfections of everything and like finding a path through life and doing something interesting. And I wanna go back to the concept of you have to be crazy to be great at something. So I've never heard it put like that. I agree with that so like violently that when you said it, I wanted to like flip my chair up and scream like you literally, and this goes back, and it is so fucking poetic dude that when you tried to commit suicide and I know life isn't a poem, but like the fact that you tried to scratch through that, when I was, I had the chills again, but it gave me the chills when I read it in the book. I was like, oh my God, like literally, I was like, you can't make this shit up.
Developing and utilizing self-belief (15:13)
The fact that you were trying to scratch that word out in particular, but that was the thing that had already made you great. And of course at that point, I'm like prognosticating into the future of the book and I'm going, I promise it comes back to it. At some point he begins to believe in himself in something else, and he's saying, of course you do. And like, we'll get into the ESPN thing and how you end up getting really fucking great at that by practicing and doubling down and getting good. But talk to me like, when did you, A, when did you develop it? Do you remember like cultivating that sense of, okay, I'm not getting the feedback. So I have to believe in me. Was it something that you were just naturally had? Like how did that notion of you have to be crazy and be great, find its way into your mind? - First off, I've seen it on a multitude of levels. You know, it was really funny. My rookie year, you get so damn excited 'cause you're playing against these guys and you've been dreaming of fucking playing against your entire life, right? - And you actually crossed over Jordan, right? - Well, yeah, I did, even though he dropped multiple buckets on me. And then told me how he was gonna do it, which was impressive 'cause he was 40 years old. It still pisses me off to this day. I don't know if you can tell. But I remember we were playing against the Lakers, Tom, and we were out here in LA. And, you know, like I always try to outwork people, right? That's just how I made my mark. So the game was at seven. I was like, you know what? I'm gonna come to the Staples Center 'cause we're playing, this one, Lakers had Kobe in shock, okay? This is like the championship Lakers. I was like, no, I'm gonna get there at three o'clock. I wanna make sure I make 400 made shots before I go back into the room and then I sit in the zone and I get ready for the game. So, you know, get in the car, get to the gym, get there, and as I'm walking onto the court, who do I see? I see Kobe Bryant already working out, right? I'm like, okay, it's kinda cool. It's Kobe, what's up, Kobe, you know? And so I put my sneakers on and you ever get lost in what you do where you end up like, wait, it's been an hour and a half? - I got it. - I'm just, I'm here, I'm in it. So once I set my foot across that line, I started working out. And so I worked out for a good hour, hour and a half. And when I came off after I was done, I sat down and of course I still heard the ball bouncing. I looked down, I'm like, this guy's still working out. He was working out for like, it looks like he was in a dead sweat when I got here. And he's still going. And it's not like his moves are nonchalant or lazy. He's doing like game moves, you know? I sit there and I unleash my shoes. I'm like, I wanna see how long this goes. I sit out there and watch. I'm gonna have 25 minutes and he got done. I was like, okay, I think I've seen enough. I go play, you know? Come back, get in the sun and get ready for the game. That game he drops 40 on us. - Wow. - Okay? And after the game is over, I'm like, I have to ask this guy. I have to understand like why he works like that. So after the game is over, I'm like, hey, Cob, like why were you into Jim for so long? He's like, 'cause I saw you come in. And I wanted you to know that it doesn't matter how hard you work, that I'm willing to work harder than you. - Wow. - And he's like, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not saying I dislike you as a person. You inspire me to be better. And it was the first time I started to see this level of competitiveness where I said, I need to start doing more. Wow. And everybody that I've been around my life who's been over successful and I'm not talking monetarily, even talking spiritually, my girlfriend said something to me that really inspires me, okay? 'Cause I think as I got lost into my career and I wanna jump to the story, but as I get lost into my TV career, I had a tendency to put all my energy and my time into that almost to make up for what I felt like I lost before, okay? And she said, you know what? If you were to allocate a percentage of the energy that you put into your career, into yourself, and learning more about yourself, and learning more about yourself in relationships, you'll be successful. And it was the first time I had to sit back and say, wow, that's really powerful. 'Cause I think a lot of people, when you have to start addressing other things, you get mentally tired, right? When I address TV, I don't get mentally tired. This is what I do, right? But when there's an unknown, something that you haven't felt like you mastered, I'm unsure about it. When it gets frustrating, like, who are you going to be? Are you gonna be that person that wows in their self-pity? Or are you gonna be that person that says, you know what, okay, I did this wrong, I did that wrong, but how can I be better? And I think that's what I talk about, that relentless mentality to want to be better at just life in general. - I love that, and how hilarious that you would use the word relentless.
lbow injury and shift in mentality as a result (19:48)
So you and I have a mutual, a deep friend for you, I'm sure, and a very strong acquaintance for me in Tim Grover, somebody who's had a massive impact on my life, but obviously pales in comparison to what he's done for you. Talk to me about Tim, his notion of being relentless, what that means to you, and your own willingness to endure an ungodly amount of suffering. - That would be an understatement with Tim. First off, he is brilliant, he's beyond brilliant, and it wasn't the physical part that was arduous, it was the mental. - And just to set the stage for people, he was the guy that trained you, post-injury, when it's like, I'm really serious about this, I'm gonna go all the way, I go to the best of the best, Tim Grover. And Tim had trained Michael Jordan, he trained Kobe Bryant, but I think a lot of people get lost in the fact that he trained them physically, he trained these guys mentally too. And I know for me, my leg, I have atrophy on the outside of my left leg, okay, this muscle here, since I lost my nerve, it's gone away, and I have dropped foot. So my game had to change, and very much like life, you're used to doing one thing at 21, is different than when you're 35 years old, right?
Adapting to a new normal after a career-ending injury (20:54)
And I had to be open enough and vulnerable enough to accept the fact that my game had to be different in order for me to be effective. But like I said earlier, it's so hard when my brain sees things and my body before, I guess this is a gift of being an athlete to that caliber. It, right, I see it's gone, right? If I bring the ball down to court, and there's a screen coming to your right, and you glance over, if I see your eye glance, within that split second, I'm gone, 'cause I see you take your eye off of me. So now some of my games changed at 21 years old. Now some of that first step is like, it's molasses, it's nonexistent, right? So now am I willing to say I'm not that fast anymore? I have to work you into the screen, I have to take my time, I have to actually come off shoulder to shoulder, I have to use my body more to create separation. Hey, my jump shot wasn't the best, I have to be a better shooter 'cause I don't have that explosion anymore. And a lot of people say, hey, that seems pretty easy, but to mentally accept that I'm a different person now, and to help other people see I'm a different person was challenging. And the major part that was the most difficult was seeing myself. So as an athlete, I was used to people looking at me in a state of awe, right? And it was something you kind of you thrive for, you work your entire life for. So when the kid or when somebody was come up to me, they're like, oh my God, Tom, like your show is amazing, right? And you're used to that affirmation of what you do, you're like, all right, it's worth me putting the time. Whereas that look for me changed and it looked really made me depressed too because it was a look from, oh my God, you're amazing to look of, oh my God, I'm so sorry. Or what happened or used to be that guy before you messed up. And people don't say things maliciously, they say things more so because they're, it's awkward and they wanna start a conversation. And those things would drive me insane. And Tim forced me to talk to him about those things. It was the first time I started having conversations, I'm talking like on the court. I'll be on the court doing a drill. And he's like, you have dropped foot. And also now it attacked the drill a little bit more. And next drill, he's like, you know, I used to be a guy, you were good. And I would, let's get up more shots. So he started to find ways to motivate me and started to take the anger out of the equation for me too. And that was a hell of a first step in the process of me rebuilding who I was as a person. - So I'm wearing this shirt in particular for you because there are people that know how to leverage the darkness, there are people that know how to leverage the anger, Tim is definitely one of them. You've said that you've always played better angry.
Knowing how to leverage the darkness. (23:53)
What was your mental talk in those times where the level of pain, which you go into great detail in the book, the level of pain was like, I was squeamish just reading about it. I mean, it's just crazy, I can't imagine.
Tapping Into the Dark Side (24:12)
- I guess, what are you just talking about? - I'm sure. I mean, you have to do years of that kind of painful stuff. It's nuts. So what are you doing like self-talk? How are you harnessing like the dark side? Like, how did you tap into that? Did you and Tim work on that? Was that something that was part of the game plan? - Well, we had conversations about different things, which obviously, for me at that time, I was 23 years old, right? So this is the first time I was even having conversations. And to a degree, I think this comes from being at a school like Duke when you're always, you're always in the face of the media, you learn how to say the right thing, okay? You don't give people your honest feedback. You kind of give them the rhetoric. And I think even when I started going through therapy, I had a lot of rhetoric, right? Because I didn't want to face it. Have you had a bad dream and you wake up and you're married, right? - Yes. - And you see your wife and you're like, okay, that was a dream, right? I think for a long time, for two or three years, I thought I was living a fucked up dream. And I kept waiting to wake up. I kept waiting to wake up. Tim was the first person that forced me to talk, to talk, just to talk. And it's amazing when you just open your mouth and you start saying how you really feel about stuff. I mean, think about it. How many people really say how they feel? - Virtually nobody. - Exactly. And I think Tim was the first person and I actually started to have like full transparent conversations with. - Right. - I was like, I don't like the person I was. He's like, what do you mean? I was like, I cheated a lot. Oh my girlfriend, I lied a ton. I was consumed by money. I used to gamble. I never gambled. You know, I would say things just because it was the right thing to say. Not that I was maliciously a bad person. - Right. - I just never even thought about what my actions were. I was too busy moving. And Tim forced me to stop. And I still stopped myself to this day. - And you stop yourself from what focusing on who you don't want to be and focus on who you do want to be. - I just, I press pause in life sometimes.
Focusing on the Journey (26:27)
And I think it helps. I recalibrate. - To try to get out of an obsessive thought? - Yes. Or just to, you know, even to get out of funks, whatever, whatever, maybe, you know, I'm a firm believer in that you have to find balance in life, right? So there are gonna be times where your journey is gonna be down here and it's gonna be tough. And the same when things get high. You know, you sign a new deal or you have to be able to keep things in perspective. And I think sometimes when I stop, I force myself to assess, okay, where are the benefits? You know, where are the negatives? How can I turn this negative into a positive? All right, let me make sure that I don't get too high and I continue to keep my head down and work harder because I want to achieve more. If it's not for me, for the people that work for me or for my girlfriend or my mom, these are better. So I try to find that one thing because I'm very goal oriented that I need to work towards. And once I achieve that, it's another goal. And I don't want it to ever stop because that's what life should be. - Agreed, do you think of yourself as young or old?
Jay'S View On Growth And Positivity
Jay s Worldview & The Definition of Flip (27:26)
- I'm old. - Interesting. - I live the life that has been different. Not for better or for worse, it's just, I feel like I'm old soul. - It's interesting, I ask because I'm intrigued to, I think what your story is and I'm gonna reveal myself and my worldview in this. So I'm reading your story, you wanna make the comeback and because the way the book is told, I didn't know if you make the comeback or not, right? So I don't follow sports. So I didn't know, like does this guy go back to the NBA and crush it and he's like, "Super famous now?" Or do you not? And there's no hints of it in the beginning of the book. So it's like unfolding for me in real time and then when you don't make it and there's the second attempted suicide, but I know that like you're, I have the framework of what you do post basketball. So I didn't know if it was basketball injury, basketball and then post or just basketball injury and then post, but I know what you do post. So I'm like, okay, this works out somewhere. Like at some point he gets back on track and I am utterly convinced that, and I don't believe things happen for a reason by the way, which I know you and I are diametrically opposed on that. So yeah, I don't believe, but I believe that there's so much meaning and power to be taken from anything that happens. So to me looking at like, okay, I watched this kid, nobody gives him enough accolades for how good he's getting and he actually understands the nature of getting good. It's about practicing, it's about showing up, it's about putting in the work, it's about doing more than other people are willing to do. He goes to college at Duke, not impressed with himself in his first season, but oh dear God kills himself over the summer to really get spectacular, comes back, crushes it, could have gone direct to the NBA, feels a sense of obligation, which I think is beautiful and even though there's no question you could have made more money by going into the NBA, financially maybe that was a better decision, but I'm imagining you at the podium and everyone's like begging you for another year and you give it to him. And I think this fucking beautiful man, I think that was a gift to that town, it's why your jersey now hangs in the rafters, like you did something beautiful for that organization, I think it's incredible. You do that, you go into the NBA, it's all turning to shit, people are smoking weed like before games, it's like a total mess, you're becoming somebody you don't wanna be, but by the end of the season, you figured out and crush the last 19 games if I'm not mistaken, and everybody's like whoa, the person you're becoming, you're about to become an all star. And then like it's a fucking movie, that's the moment that you have the accident, you have to rebuild, we've already talked about that, but your mind has been consistent through everything, okay? The vast majority of humanity, if I take your life and I just take a million people and I crush them through that, like the percentage of people that come out the other side is virtually none. So for you, like it's the way that I think of the inner cities, the inner cities consume most of the people that it touches and they either literally die young or they just go on to do nothing, but every now and then you get Jay-Z, and you go, God, for the right person, like this pressure cooker is, it's the pressure that makes the diamond, right? So because A, I think that I'm gonna live forever, truly, and I understand a lot of things have to happen for that to be true, but I extend that to you, you're even younger than I am, so you're gonna live forever, it's gonna be amazing. So now I wanna see, okay, I know what this guy's been through, I know the diamond that his mind has become, like what awaits all of us on the other side of that? So that's why I was freaking out, reading the book, when you literally try to cut through the word believe, and can't, by the way, what do you set huge goals for yourself now? - Yes, every day. - And let me address one other thing that you said that I find fascinating, 'cause I think it's an epidemic within our culture. In the American culture, it's so funny, like the comeback, right?
It s the American Comeback Story (31:27)
When I wanted to write my book, I got turned down by multiple publishing agencies, and if you're like, well, like you didn't come back, you know? And I think that's like the American, like through the American scope of how we look at things, like what? Did it come back and crush it? And that's a comeback story, and I'm like, shit. No, like I came back mentally, like that's a story. Like that's a story that should be cherished for younger kids out there, for older people out there, it doesn't matter, you don't have to come back and do what you did before, and do it exponentially better. You have to come back better as a person, and really value that process. Like that's a comeback, like that should be an American story. So yeah, I think my goals are a little bit outlandish for myself, I wanna own my own media network one day. - My man. - That's where I, so that's what we know. I came, I was like, hey, this is like God's in, right? Like I have a two bedroom apartment in New York. I, you know, my mom comes, and unfortunately, there's a big camera in the room, and there's lights, and she's like, she's like, are you filming me? Do I sleep? And I was like, no, but now I may, 'cause it may be interesting content, you know? But like I think about, hey, how can I, how can I be bigger and better? And I think about now, how can I break outside this mold of just being a college basketball analyst? That's how I got my foot in the door of TV. But I'm in fact with the process of TV, because as you know, it's amazing when you have to be vulnerable to talk about issues that a lot of people aren't willing to talk about on TV. Like there's something special about that. So if that's me having conversations with, you know, somebody I'm interviewing or me being lost in, you know, telling dialogue, I love it. Like I'm, it's my passion. It's my new basketball court. - Yes, I love that man so much.
Erasing Mistakes (33:22)
So my thing is you said something, it was in the book. You said the reason that this has become like the American, like narrative for the comeback story is because it erases the mistake. And I thought that is such a powerful insight that is exactly why one you would wanna come back for yourself, right? So then you can stop feeling bad about it, right? 'Cause you're playing it in your head, you're heading 24/7, right? So, and then the other is it would give hope to the people watching you that I could erase my own mistakes. Like there is a way to erase it. Now, I've never thought of it like that. I think it's a really powerful insight, but the way that I do think about it, I read one time, never let your past be bigger than your future. And like you, so I built a billion dollar business. - I'm familiar. - And now I've started something new, right? How the fuck do I top that?
Dreaming Big (34:20)
So now going back to my obsession with your tattoo, I have to believe, to be crazy enough to believe, that I can actually build something bigger than that. And that that will ultimately be small potatoes. But now I know that when I was doing it, and we achieved it, and it was more than a bill, that I was like everybody else, like this is really just fucking happening, like I'm shocked as anybody else, right? Like we set out to build something, it happened so much faster, like all of it was a surprise. So to now go, okay, well now I've totally redefined what's possible, like dreaming at that level was my like crazy big idea. Oh my God, like one day, like, 'cause my number's actually 100 million. I just wanna get to 100 million. So when we like smashed through, got to a billion, I was like freaking out, right? So then it resets you. So now my obsession is what I'll code name terraforming. So Elon Musk is gonna terraform Mars. So he's literally gonna put a colony there, they're gonna build an atmosphere on a planet. That to me is like the definition of dreaming big, right? Like when you're prepared to say, okay, I wanna terraform that planet, that means I have to build a rocket ship and work your way back to all the things that he's had to do to get to that point. - He's amazing, even what you're always doing with the whole freeway system. - Yeah, that's crazy. - Go from downtown to LAX in like five minutes and I'm like, God, I'm sorry. - No, no, please, I mean, that's, you're right on the money, I mean that's exactly what I'm talking about. So my thing is like seeing you now, building dreams that are bigger, and that's why I ask you, if you think of yourself as older, young, and I get what you're saying by being an old soul, but at 35, I hope I can convince you that you're a baby, and that you've got so much of your life, I'm a baby, right? We've got so much of our lives left to live, so much time to learn and grow and get better, that to fail to believe that you could do something bigger than being drafted, like that would be my coping mechanism, right? Like I would immediately go, okay, cool, that's done, I'm not gonna look back, but I am going to do something bigger, I am going to do something better, because it, one, it's exciting, and you have given me the insight that in some way that would erase that mistake. - You know, it's funny too for a while, and you're dead on with that. I associate it bigger with monetary value. So for me, it was like, hey, I could've made 250 million in my MBA career, how do I achieve that?
Bigger meaning impact (36:47)
- Right. - That's the goal, that's what bigger means, and bigger has changed for me to now meaning impact, right? So yes, I do wanna have my own media network one day, I do wanna help other people film content, I love content, but I rather it be, I don't worry about the money now, the money's gonna take care of itself. If I impact people, the rest will happen. Me telling my story was selfish at first, because I wanted to write a book for me, I needed to write a book for me, I needed to sit down and really go through the shit, the good, the bad, and really write it out. And I'd even know if I wanted to share it at first, because a lot of people when they write a book, they're not gonna be fully transparent, they're gonna be worried about what is my image, what is my image I'm portraying to everybody else, is this gonna hinder me from getting other deals, can I lose deals that I currently have? And writing it, after I got done, I was like, whoa, it's like, wow, shit, that feels good. It feels good, and it didn't matter what people said, good or bad, some reviews killed my book, other reviews loved it, it wasn't, I didn't write it for them at first. And then after I started hearing people tell me their stories, oh shit, like this is what it's all about. You know, and I used to say it all the time, why me, why me, why me? And all of a sudden that conversation changed it, yeah. Fuck yeah, like why not me? Like why not me? And I think the more you can start looking at, facing adversity by saying why not me, you approach things with a completely different mentality than a person who feels like they're gonna be a victim. You start becoming the hunter again, and the more you can stay with that hunter mentality, it will pay dividends down the gone. - Dude, I love that. That is a, thank you for that one I will remember. - Oh, thank you, man, are you kidding me? I wish I would have my notebook, I'm buying down all this stuff mentally right now. - So walk me through, you know who Stephen Hawking is? - I do. - Okay, so you wanna talk about losing your body. And he's got an amazing quote that really empowered me. And he said, when you complain, nobody wants to help you. Which I just thought, okay, if he's talking about that, if he's talking about like not to be a victim, and he in very similar ways to what you're talking about is, now you've found this new purpose, you're gonna be able to help people specifically because you were in the accident. He said, look, I've made these contributions to physics because I lost my body. And you know, up until that point, I was sort of a lad, you know, went out drinking and partying with the boys, and never really took school seriously. And it was only in these moments that I really, as I lost my body, it forced me to really focus on my mind and build something incredible. And that concept to me is pretty breathtaking. So while I don't think things happen for a reason, it's incredibly powerful to see the wisdom that people can mine from whatever's happened to them. - If they choose. - If they choose for sure. - And I think choose is a really imperative word because a lot of people choose not to, you know, follow up on things that happened in their past or sit time to reflect. And that's why I got alluded to earlier. It's amazing, it's like this hamster will. And people are just, like, you know, I see it all the time. I think New York City is a prime target for it because I can walk down the street. And it's, you know, look, there's an epidemic with homeless people in New York, right? I think it's throughout our country too. And there was a guy who lived outside my apartment and I have a place in Tribeca. I've worked really hard for it. And it would shatter my soul every morning when I would get up in my apartment and I have these big windows and I look out and I see this guy who's homeless, right? And I was sitting there one day and I saw so many people just going by him. Just on their phone, not paying attention to him. I'm not that he was looking for attention at all. And I got on my apartment, I went down, I started talking to him and he started finding out this guy and his story and where he's from. And, you know, in fact that he lost his daughter in a really bad accident. He used to work on Wall Street and his wife divorced him and, you know, he can't pick up the pieces. And, look, I wanted to help the guy and you try to talk to the guy. I don't think he was all there anymore. I think he had succumbed to just the resentment and the contention he had for the world in general, okay? But he said something so powerful to me. Because in a moment when he was talking about all his frustrations, he said, "You know what, though? "I am where I am and only I can change it." And I remember, wow, you know, as much as we were talking, you are the only person that could change it. At the end of the day, people can want to help you as much as they want to help you.
Complaining isn't the answer (41:44)
And I don't think complaining's answer either. I think vulnerability and talking to people about what's actually going on in your life gets him invested in you. And the more you listen to them, get some invested, you know, you invested back in them. And that's when a bond is formed. But that person can only take you so far. You have to want to take yourself to a different place. And if you don't have that, then you're going to stay stuck. And a lot of people choose to stay stuck. And we see it every single day. So that always scares me. He's self-aware enough to know that he is the problem and the solution. Do you have like a piece of advice that you get? Did you tell him anything? Like what do you say? I didn't really know what to say at that given moment. And you know, it scared, I mean, a lot of people, they may not properly articulate that, but they lived their lives that way. I mean, I just, I think the more you're willing to confront it, the more you're willing to talk about it. I think talking helps, man. You know, I know this sounds cheesy. Not at all. But I talk to myself, okay?
Keys To Self-Motivation And Moving Forward
Finding the Strength to Move On (42:52)
People have seen me and they can be a little bit crazy. But, you know, I remind myself of what happened. You know, I wake up in the morning and I always make sure that I look at my leg. I have to, I can't pick up my big toe, right? So I have to crack my toe and my curl always cracks and it hurts in the morning when I crack it 'cause it gets stiff. And it just, all right, my accident happened like June 19th, 2003. It happened. It sucked, it was painful, but it happened. It's a part of my blueprint. It doesn't define me, but it's a part of my story. But a lot of people allow that one moment to define the rest of the story. You can't allow that to happen. And you have to be vulnerable enough with yourself to accept the fact that shit happened. Bad stuff happens to everybody. You have to drive your own car. And if you don't drive it, somebody else is gonna drive it for you. And that other person who's driving it may not be a person, it may be a darkness, that entity that we talked about. That is easy to get lost and consumed in. - If you ever thought about waking up, looking at your leg, cracking your painful big toe and saying, the accident happened, thank God. And I am a fundamentally different human being and I'm going to impact the lives of countless people because I have a mind that is capable of suffering at a level other people are not. And because I went through the darkest of periods and clawed my way out, not that it was easy, that I clawed my way out. And I know how to help people now in a way that I never could have understood if I didn't go through it. - I did say thank you. Probably when I was 30 years old, five years ago, I said, thank you for happening to me. I'm still clawing now. I don't think you ever claw your way out. I think it's a process. It's easy to go back into that. That's why I talk about reaffirming what happened and reaffirming where you want to go to yourself. We spend so much time talking to other people and giving other people advice on what they need to do in their life. And sometimes you need to down give yourself advice on what's best for you. - What's some of the best advice you've given yourself?
Best Advice (45:00)
- Wow. Can't live in the past. I have to be present. I think there are a lot of times that you would see me in moments where I wouldn't be there. 'Cause I was too busy re-accounting what was instead of what's happening currently. Not even what's going to happen. Like I just wasn't even present. I was just there. Some other advice I think that I have to continue to be better. I know it's simple, but I still have faults, man. I still make mistakes. I'm not perfect. I'm not perfect in relationships. I've hurt people and I've been hurt. It's a challenge for me to really let somebody in to my own demons that I suffer from. It's a challenge for me in my relationship with my father. I love my dad wholeheartedly. Me writing the book, hurt our relationship to a degree. I try to talk to him about it. It's a work in progress. It's amazing how some of the people that you love more than anything you have a difficult time connecting to. But you feel the love, you recognize it. So I think there's still so many aspects of me where there's room for improvement and there's room for growth. And people say, "I can't believe you got yourself out." I'm like, "I'm still getting myself out of it." And it's never going to stop. And that's a good thing because it could have stopped on June 19th. And if it had stopped on June 19th, 2003, how sad would that have been that I wouldn't even have been able to spend time reflecting on the shit that I was doing? So now it's like I have a second chance. And I'm not going to say that I sometimes don't get carried away or get lost in what I'm doing. I am extremely ambitious, right? Just like you, right? So, you know, that's work. I look to my girlfriend needs to check me. My mom needs to check me. I have these people who are sounding boards in my life right now who are willing to say difficult things to me. And I ask you, how many people do you have that you're allowed to be in your circle that can say painful things to you that you may not like to hear? And then once you hear them, are you willing to accept it? I've been lucky enough to have people in my life like that. I make sure I try to stay surrounded with those people. That is wise. Yeah, your whole concept of having a board of people that really have your best interests at heart. And I think that's, my wife and I talk a lot about that, that notion of, okay, I'm hearing something I don't want to hear. It really hurts. And from a random person, this may even lead to, like me, shutting down, not wanting to hear it. But because I can ask the question, does this person love me with yes and answer it with yes, then you've got a shot to really lower your defenses and hear it and adopt it. And that's really, really important. And it's rewarding, it's fulfilling. It's fulfilling to recognize that nobody is the perfect in-product and everybody has stuff to work on.
Stopping for one second (47:59)
But once you're able to say, wow, that is something you need to work on. And you feel yourself taking the steps necessary to be better at it. What advice do you have for people that are going through like real anguish, like real pain? I guess either emotional and physical. What makes me ask this is I'm so curious to know what your internal talk was like during the early days of physical therapy when it was just grueling. I think the first thing is to, and I do this when I do talks and it's amazing to see how squirm is an uncomfortable people get. You hear that? That's the only person you're dealing with is you when you're quiet. It's fascinating. It's fascinating to look inside yourself or to spend time with yourself. And whenever I do a talk or when I talk to people who I think are going through a lot of pain, I first tell them, okay, I understand what you're going through, but you just need to stop for one second. Because what we have a tendency to do is we over-interdate ourselves with other things that really don't matter to keep ourselves busy, to keep not thinking about the things that do matter. So once you're finally able to stop yourself and you're present with yourself, you have to go back and you have to address it. I'm not saying that you're going to find a conclusion right then and there, but you have to recognize that whatever happened did happen. And I try to push people to find silver linings. I think there's truly a silver lining in everything. And once again, it's what you choose to focus your energy on. If you choose to focus your energy on all the things that God took away from you or whatever entity that is that you believe in took away from you, then you will be consumed with that energy. If you try to force yourself to be consumed with the silver lining, even if you revert back, you have to remind yourself of the silver lining because it gives you a target goal. Like, you know, it's mental targeting. Are you able to focus on something that allows you to get out of your own way? If you don't have a goal to help you get out of your own way, you will be stuck. So what is that? Is that your wife? Is that your parents, whatever you need to use to be better for, you have to do that. And you have to find that this only had to come from listening to yourself and spending time with yourself. - I love that. All right, before I ask you my last question, where can these guys find you online? - Hopefully everywhere. I'm trying to be everywhere. Try to lighten up the conversation a little bit. I do stuff all over. I mean, social media between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and I'm trying all these different news shows. Trying to pitch a show called FU Money because I'm fascinated to hear what people's numbers are. Everybody has a number in which they feel like they can, you know, accomplish something. And it's amazing sitting down and talking to people. Some people's numbers are two million. Some people's numbers are 500 million. And some people's numbers are 20,000. - Right. - And it's not about the money at all. So doing stuff like that, I'm dying to break out and being involved in entertainment, do more sit down, talks with people. And I think there's this beautiful collision between culture, sports, and politics right now. And it's so fascinating to watch different people decide to step up out of their particular silo and speak out about other issues that aren't the ones that they work in, right? And how you respond to that. Like, you know, people saying to me if I make a comment about where we need to be politically. And I'm not saying that I'm more Trump or I'm against Trump. I don't agree with a lot of stuff Trump's doing right now, but he is our commander in tweets. I mean our commander in chief. You got that. So like I did a little series called Reunited States of America, where it was fascinating for me to do a social experiment and to see if people are willing to listen to what other people have to think. So I sat down with a gay couple.
Reunited States of America (51:54)
There are two Caucasian males who were Republicans, right? Which is almost, yeah, it's oxymoron within itself, right to a certain degree. And they talked a little bit about the history and about things that happened in their family and why they voted for Trump. But I didn't, I think all these people that I sat down with expected me to kind of retort and have somewhat of a contentious dialogue. And I just sat there and I listened. And then I let that stuff play across all my different social media channels. And everything starts with a conversation. And if you're not willing to hear the other side and understand where the other side is coming from, you can still disagree on a multitude of issues. But you don't understand what that person has gone through that helps them see the world the way they decide to see the world. But once you understand that, then you can find common ground for a conversation. So trying to do things that spark those kind of thoughts intellectually stimulate people instead of just do crazy things for views. I like this. I don't think this happens enough. - Well, that leads very beautifully into my last question, which is what is the impact that you want to have on the world? - I just want to be the best version of me. I don't know if that's ever going to happen. But I want to, I hope that I can help other people get out of their own way. And I do believe that the series of events that happened in my life happen for a reason. And I've chose to listen to those reasons and kind of follow through on those things that I felt like I needed to work on. And just let people know that this, if you're lucky, if we're lucky, you're always going to be a work in progress. And you have to want to work. You have to be willing to put in the time and the effort. And it's funny because you said something I really pride myself on that I thought I did as a basketball player.
One of the last greatest players on Bulls dynasty (54:04)
I did always stay in a gym and I was the guy to always try to get up more shots in you. After Kobe said that, I took my ass back to the gym and worked out more. But you never get better if you're not willing to put in the time. And basketball is very similar to the game of life. There's going to be ups and downs. Sometimes you may turn a ball over seven times in a row. But if you put in the work and you constantly put in the work, you can't allow that one mistake to go into the next play. I love that idea. If you allow seven turnovers to go into my next position with the basketball or the next position in life, if you allow that divorce or if you allow that passing away of somebody or that loss of a career to go into the next eight plays, you'll have another eight turnovers. You have to be willing to say that was back there, that happened, but it doesn't mean it needs to happen now. And the more I can help people understand that they're lucky to even be in a position to have a chance to reinvent or to readdress things from their past. It doesn't matter, you know, you get somebody that did you wrong, say something to them, man, your time you have on this Earth is short. And I lose sight of that too. Doing talks like this, they help me. You should always look for help.
The more you can motivate yourself instead of listening to people talking down to you. (55:29)
And that's why I like this around myself with those type of people. 'Cause they always help you get out your own way. - I love that. Brother J, thank you so much for coming to the show, man. - Thank you, man. - That was great. - You're awesome, dude. Thank you. - Guys, all right, I'm gonna crawl through the camera in a minute, I'm telling you, you've gotta read this book, life is not an accident, it is amazing. The way that he walks you through what happened, one again, like I said in the beginning, it's just well written. So if you like good books, you will love this book. But the important part about it is the story that he tells, which to me is the ultimate one of the most beautiful and empowering stories of redemption. Why? Because the thing that from the moment you hear about his accident that you'll be praying for is for him to get back in the NBA, he doesn't. He totally takes that away, that's not this story.
It depends on you whether you overcome your challenges. (56:17)
And the reason that I think that is so important is watching him rebuild another life, watching him totally transform and reinvent himself. And at the claw, literally out of the pitch, black darkness that is depression. And to be able to claw his way out of that by building a future for himself, by saying that's over, that's done. I'm willing to shut the door on that. Because remember, that's where most people get paralyzed. They walk into a room with a thousand doors and they're unwilling to shut any of them, so they can't go. But now imagine an even more terrifying one where you went through the door that made you feel most alive, you were ecstatic, you couldn't believe it, you go through, and then it's shut in your face. And what do you do with that? And the fact that this man was able to go through physical torture, literally read the book and you will see, when I say torture, I'm not kidding. To go through physical torture, only to then have to go through the mental torture, which is far more difficult, to build a compelling future for himself and to be willing to apply all the things that made him great before the willingness to outwork, the willingness to get out of his own way, to self-assess, to finally figure out the lesson about who you surround yourself with, to grind it out, to learn from mentors like Coach K, who we didn't even get a chance to talk about, you're gonna hear about all that stuff in the book. And I promise you, all the things that made him great had nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with his mind. So I am eternally grateful for you coming on the show.
Willpower And Determination
I outwilled people. (57:45)
I cannot thank you enough. Guys, dig in, this is a weekly show. So if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. Please check this man out, you will not regret it. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Thank you for being here, awesome. Thank you so much. - Hey everybody, thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory. If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes, and Stitcher, and Rate and Review. Not only does that help us build this community, which at the end of the day is all we care about, but it also helps us get even more amazing guests on here to show their knowledge with all of us. Thank you guys so much for being a part of this community. And until next time, be legendary, my friends.