"I write to you as a man who is completely at peace with himself."
Ray Allen has announced his retirement from the NBA. Of course, the 41-year old sharpshooter hasn't played in the league since the 2013-14 season with Miami but he had always left the door open for a return with a title contender.
Today, he officially shut the doors on those rumors, and his career, in a lengthy letter to his 13-year old self posted to The Player's Tribune.
As a kid, Ray Allen was constantly switching schools whenever his father got stationed at a new Air Force Base and in this letter he advises his younger self to stick to the basketball court rather than trying to fit in with the other teenagers at his Dalzell, South Carolina school who "looked at him like an alien."
“You talk like a white boy,” they’ll say.
That basketball court at the Air Force base is where Ray Allen honed his skills and became motivated by all of the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" stories that he heard from the grown men he was playing pickup games against.
You’re going to hear a lot of, “Man, I coulda …” on these courts.
Man, I wish I could go back in time.
I’d have gone D-I.
Booze got the best of me.
Man, I coulda.…
Man, I shoulda.…
I wish I could go back, young fella.…
Don’t ever put yourself in the position to wish you could hop in a time machine, Ray. You need to stay focused, because things will only become more complicated as you have more success on the court.
From there, Ray writes about the jump from High School to UCONN where he furthered his game under the tutelage of Jim Calhoun, and ultimately his illustrious 18-year NBA career where he played against heroes like Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan and alongside Hall of Famers like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
And how he went to the dentist bright and early the morning after winning his second NBA title.
When you walk in the door, the receptionist looks at you and says, “Ray? What … what are you doing here?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“But … you just won the title.”
“Yeah, I just wanted to get out of the house.”
“But … it’s eight in the morning. And you just won the title.”
“Well, I still got some work to be done on this tooth. Is he in?”
Your dentist walks out of his office.
“Ray? What are you … what?”
This is what success looks like for you. You’re the kind of guy who goes to the dentist the morning after winning an NBA title.
He wraps up the letter to his younger self by saying how completely at peace he is with this retirement decision.
"I write this to you today as a 41-year-old man who is retiring from the game. I write to you as a man who is completely at peace with himself."
"The hell you experience when you get off that bus will be temporary. Basketball will take you far away from that school yard. You will become far more than just a basketball player. You’ll get to act in movies. You’ll travel the world. You will become a husband, and the father of five amazing children."
You can check out the retirement letter in full right here.