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There are basketball players that can’t be unoticed. There are some men that are unforgettable. Everyone who has known Jeremiah Wood, on or off the court, would agree that he definitely is one of that kind.
Mister triple/double, MVP, sir the real deal, the beast, « Wood baby », you got plenty of nicknames… Lol. Which one do you prefer the most? For some it is obvious, but where does « Wood baby » come from for example? What it is « the real deal » meaning for you?
I tend to have many nicknames on and off the court, different ones for different scenes. « Wood Baby » has always been the classic. An ESPN host, Dick Vitale, was commenting on a video of mine on TV when I was picked as one of the Top 5 Freshman in college basketball in which he called me « Wood Baby » and it stuck since then. « The Real Deal », to me, means that I don’t just talk the talk, but I walk the walk. Living by your own set of rules and standards and being true to yourself. Not to conform to others, but just to do it YOUR way, always. Anywhere I play, I just try my best to be true to the game.
When I interviewed him, Rémi Valin mentioned Drake Reed and you as « real beast of competition, who have lifted Alm up ». ALM fans are still very into you and hoping you would come back… You definitely left your mark on the team’s history. How would you summarize your 2 seasons in France? Why did you eventually decide not to stay?
Playing with ALM was a very positive experience for me. It’s always good to be part of something great. The team and coaches had lots of drive and we definitely grew and bonded as time went by. The fans were amazing. So loyal and passionate about supporting us, even on the road. I have to say that I am grateful for the experience at ALM. After being in Pro B for two years and achieving the MVP Award, I wanted to place more challenges in front of me. When you are in the comfort zone, you tend to slow personally growth. Moving into a bigger league was the next step in my basketball career even though I enjoyed being at ALM.
« When your work is your passion, you dont really have a job ». I remember a French media misinterpreted your Facebook status, « I dont have a job », as you were not balling last year. Do you feel like its difficult for a pro athlete to be understood sometimes? Isn’t it frustrating sometimes to have to justify oneself?
I’ve accepted the fact that being in the eye of the public people will have their judgements and opinions. Yes, I will be misunderstood at times but I don’t feel the pressure to have to justify myself. The people who know me understand the man I am, so what’s placed on my social media is intended to connect more with the people that I know personally. If it doesn’t, it’s alright. This phrase « I don’t have a job », was misinterpreted by a French sports writer as me simply saying I was unemployed. The fact is throughout my career as a professional basketball player I have never felt like I have a job. « If you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. » I’m blessed to say that I can live by this saying.
You decided « to step back from the light » for a while, to face « the man in the mirror » and « make move in the dark where the real people are at ». In which way did that introspective time eventually help you to grow?
Well there’s a time for everything, and it was time for me to focus more on self-improvement. During this time, social media just wasn’t on my agenda. Sometimes we lose focus on ourselves when we get fed so much information on what everyone else is doing or when we are busy updating the world on what we are doing. I spent the time refining my skills on the court and also working on my education.
So, you took « a year off » the court but used that time to graduate from the university of Akron. How was it to go back to school after having been travelling the world? Would you agree to say that the learning process is different at this age? How did you live this experience?
Traveling and living in different countries does change perspective on many things. I guess I went back to school as a more refreshed mind, someone more matured and worldly. It was easier to put more focus in academics this time round as my purpose was clearer. I like to make sure my time and energy is being used efficiently. So the same hard work I put in during the season, I put into my graduation. The outcome was my Bachelors Degree instead of a trophy that’s all.
Now you are back to basketball, currently killing the game in Argentina. You eventually always managed to go over the difficulties and come back on the court, collecting triple/double, earning MVP titles, lifting your every teams up, again and again. You are kind of unstoppable! What’s next? What are the « plans and goals » you are about to achieving from now?
Thank you. I plan to continue to pursue climbing up the ranks in my professional basketball career.
Greatness seems to be a family affair, your little brother, Ryan D. Martin, started to rule the boxing world (12-0, 7 by K.O) and even been endorsed by 50Cents after « few very difficult years ». You once wrote « We don’t show-up, we stand up and show-out ». You two are living proofs that anything is possible for those who keep on working hard and being striven with passion. Where is this strenghth coming from? Who are the persons that inspired, mentored you to develop these mental and physical abilities?
Yes, I’m very happy to see Ryan doing so well in boxing. It wasn’t an easy start for him but he pushed through and is now starting out his professional career quite well. My biggest mentors were my coaches. Coach Carter from Central Hower High School taught me a lot and gave me the tools I needed to get a college scholarship. I went to him determined to get one and he helped me get to The University of Akron. I owe a lot to this man. Coach Danbrock in The University of Akron added to what Coach Carter started. He also helped prepare me for what I would have to face playing professional basketball. Competing with Lebron James also increased the standards of basketball in my era. Having such a respectable competitor on the court, who wouldn’t work hard to be able to compete on the same level. My biggest inspiration was Michael Jordan. I had three video tapes of his that I watched over and over again for years. I learned and practiced from those tapes.
If I well remember you like playing Chess. From the movie « Fresh », to the TV show « The Wire », many analogies have been drawn between the game of chess and life. Now, if I ask you what we could learn from Chess, what would you say?
That every move you make is important. Every step and every choice affects your future. I stopped playing chess competitively on the board and started playing chess in my world. If you don’t know how to play chess, the object is to get the king, not every single piece. Meaning, make sure all the little goals that you take down helps you accomplish your main goal instead of being distractions.
What would your dream job be after basketball?
A dream job for me is to be a motivational speaker. I love driving people to reach their dreams and happiness.
Last but not least: which question you wish you had been asked but never were? Why this one and what would be your answer?
I always wished I was asked « What makes me different from everyone else? ».
It’s my unbelievable, remarkable, ridiculous drive and fire to get better and to work hard everyday.