THE CONFIDENCE OF A YOUNG ATHLETE
"My freshman year of high school was the first year I had played football. The football coach at the time recruited me to come play football because he wasn’t certain if I was going to play soccer or football - So I decided to give football a try. Through the seasons my confidence grew and I started coming into my own. I was also 6’3, 200 pounds so that helped a lot. And then my junior year is when I really started to flourish. I started getting scholarship offers and eventually started receiving a mailing list of every college you could imagine. Eventually I committed to the University of Rhode Island on a full scholarship… And from there it kind of took a turn. "
"You don’t really know that certain things in your path are happening to get you to a certain place until you look back."
COLLEGE FOOTBALL, PRO BASKETBALL & SETBACKS
"My first year at Rhode Island I was highly recruited and had articles written about me saying I was the best recruit that they’ve had in a long time. I was starting right away from the first game. But going into the second game, during practice I got blindsided and I landed on my hand and broke my hand. I had to get surgery on my hand… and what happened was I had to take Vicodin. I was taking painkillers and it really took a toll on me… I started getting depressed and that’s when everything started to unravel for me. I ended up leaving the school and eventually moved back to Brazil, where I wanted to get back into sports. I was fortunate enough to have a connection in Flamengo, which is one of like the biggest teams in the world for soccer, but they also have a professional basketball team so I was fortunate enough to be a part of the under 23 team. I then went to another team, a lower division team near where I lived, and I played for a year and a half there and made an all star game before I came back to the U.S.
I didn’t overcome the hardships the smoothest, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe I went through those struggles so I could meet the people I did, so I could have the experiences I’ve had… You don’t really know that certain things in your path are happening to get you to a certain place until you look back. In the moment you don’t realize this is a crucial step in your life. But when you look back, you do. So I think going to Brazil was a crucial moment for me to learn."
"You might have a bad day but if you’re aware of why the day was bad, and you kind of let it go, you start from scratch."
ON DISCOVERING MINDFULNESS
"What I’ve really been into is the mindfulness aspect of life. I think athletes naturally have a sense of mindfulness because when you hear a coach say ‘be present, be in the moment,’ that’s mindfulness, technically. And tennis, golf, and these sports that are 1 on 1 or 2 on 2, you need it the most because it’s just you in your head. How I got into mindfulness was actually my girlfriend. She gave me a book that changed my life which is called The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. And George Mumford was the consultant for Phil Jackson for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. And so, the Bulls and Lakers, all the players meditated. And they all give a lot of credit to George Mumford for excelling in pressure moments, because they didn’t let the pressure get to them. They stayed focused. They stayed in the moment. They didn’t worry about the last play. They didn’t worry about the last game. You stay present and that’s how you succeed in sports and in life. So, mindfulness ever since then, ever since I started meditating I haven’t missed a day. I’ve meditated probably 9 months straight. I need it every day. It’s just one of these things where I can relieve the stress I’ve had during the day. Our struggles are never as big as we make it. You might have a bad day but if you’re aware of why the day was bad, and you kind of let it go, you start from scratch. "
ON STRENGTH AND PROPER FORM
"If you’re trying to become a college football player, then training plays a really big role because they test those numbers. So you want to get your bench press up, your squat up, your clean up, and you want to do everything with proper form. And that’s something I think that gets lost. Some kids try to put up monster weight and their form isn’t as good and what ends up happening is they have certain ailments around their body because of overexertion in certain parts. If you’re doing things properly with less weight, you’re actually going to grow your strength better."
"You’ve got to be patient. Anybody can do anything. You can be a superstar athlete if you work on it."
ON MINDFUL TRAINING
"I definitely train mindfully. Even when you’re talking about picking up a weight, I’m bending at the knees, I’m not bending at the back. I know exactly what exercises I’m doing for what reasons, and what repetitions. As far as building more muscle, you have to know exactly what you did last week and then you have to slowly improve on that weight. So you can figure out exactly how you should lift based on what you want your body to look like and how you should eat as well. There’s so much information out there that anybody can get certain supplements and certain things that can definitely improve how you want to look and perform."
ADVICE TO THOSE BEGINNING THEIR FITNESS JOURNEY
"If you have weight issues or you feel like you have some limitations – all of these limitations you have you put on yourself, I believe. So if you want to get fit, go exercise. You can do it, just don’t give up. Don’t even worry about the number on the scale. Just worry about the fact that you’re going out there and having a good time, exercising and eating the right things. Slowly but surely you’re going to turn around and you’re going to say, ‘Wow, I was that little overweight kid and now I’m a fit teenager.’ But it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to be patient. Anybody can do anything. You can be a superstar athlete if you work on it. It doesn’t matter if you have weight problems. Just start getting into healthy habits, start exercising and doing things you enjoy doing."