"It's All About The Game"
D.C. Product Branham Has Kept Pushing
Ron Bailey, Publisher
October 3, 2007 – When it comes to reporting on basketball, most outlets focus on people they consider stars, people who already receive the majority of attention. Basically, these media options are more or less front runners.
We at i95Ballerz.com take a more broad approach: Sure, standout players are featured here, but so are those that work extremely hard, overcome obstacles, and/or display and on and off the court outlook that reflects well on their families, loved ones, and themselves.
Rick Branham embodies all the above.
A do everything, combo guard from Washington, D.C., Branham is a transfer junior at Northeastern State University, in Tahlequah, OK, picking that Division II school over the likes of Idaho State, Boise State, Fresno State, Iowa, Minnesota, Howard, and Hampton. All of these schools were interested in him coming out of West Hills Community College last year. In fact, he ended up visiting Idaho State, Iowa, and Howard.
Rick Branham is majoring in Psychology at Northeastern State, a course of study he greatly enjoys. (Photo provided by Branham)
Why did Rick opt for a Division II school, when Division I options existed? The reason lies with the treatment of his brother.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get out there and play” shared Branham, who continued “I saw what my brother went through. He didn’t get as much exposure as he could” at Virginia Tech: Rick’s brother, Eric, was a high profile D.C. guard, attended that school, and in many people’s opinion did not get a fair shake there.
While growing up around 14th Street, NW in Washington, D.C., Ricky not only learned from his brother’s college situation, but was driven by him as well. “Actually, it motivated me to get out of his shadow”, given Eric’s iconic status, said Rick, who also noted he felt no pressure having such a talented sibling.
The younger Branham also learned from those in his neighborhood, one that for years was known in Washington for not only murders, but drugs and other ills: “Where I come from, it is very hard to get out and succeed – most people give up. That inspired me the most, to do more with my life”.
Rick’s story shows he hasn’t just given lip service to persevering. Graduating from Cardozo High school in 2003, Branham traveled to San Diego, CA for prep school, but soon realized it wasn’t for him. “The coach was running scams” he recalled. I had to leave”.
From that point it was to a Barton College, where he ended up not playing, after which Rick finally enrolled in West Hills for the 2005 season, immediately becoming a standout performer; as a freshman he dropped 15.2 points, seven assists, and four rebounds a game, following that up with 18.5 points, eight assists, and five boards per contest as a sophomore.
During this, his junior season, Rick shared “I’m looking forward to a huge year”, for the Riverhawks of Northeastern State”. That’s a likelihood that would not have occurred if not for Branham’s perseverance and the help of Education, Goals, Opportunities, in Sports, Inc. (EGOS).
“Rick was a late bloomer. Once people got wind of how good he was, his academics got in the way” recalled EGOS’ Director, Walter Ray. “At the Larry Williams Game (the organization’s annual talent showcase for unsigned players) a few years ago, he generated a lot of interest, but didn’t have the academics”. Ray continued “He’s come a long way” academically, which has allowed Ricky to display his talent.
More importantly, Ray enjoys Branham the person, as he stated ‘I love him, he’s one of my family. I take more pride in that kind of story than the ones that are in Slam magazine and ESPN Magazine. There were a lot of other guys who got all the attention, but Ricky kept on fighting…He’s one of my favorite sons. I’ve watched him go from worst to first in people’s eyes”.
The feelings are reciprocal, as Branham, when asked of EGOS and Ray, responded “Without Walter Ray, I wouldn’t have been anywhere. He stuck with me. He coached me up to this point, and it’s finally starting to pay off”.
Things are starting to come around for Rick Branham, and the D.C. hoops
community should take note. It’s taken awhile, but he’s pressing
on. And that’s what it’s really all about.
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