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Basketball star Kevin Love tells 2020 graduates to write their own story

Kevin Love refuses to let anyone write his story for him.

The NBA All-Star offered some inspiring words for graduates of the class of 2020 on how to defy insurmountable odds while listening to your inner voice during Verizon’s Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement series. (Verizon is Cashay’s parent company.)

“I'm Kevin and I'm here to challenge you to write your own story,” the Cleveland Cavaliers forward said. “Will you determine what your verse will be, or will you let somebody else pick up the pen and write it for you?”

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love celebrates in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love celebrates in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In his address, Love reflected back on a time a decade before he won the 2016 NBA championship with the Cavs. He was was a high school basketball player who was interviewed by a reporter. When asked where he saw himself in a decade, Love said, “I clicked off an unimaginable list that most people would only attribute to a naive teenager,” and that his list of anticipated accomplishments included playing in the NBA and winning an NBA championship.

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For many athletes, playing at the professional level is the goal but competition is fierce. Love conceded that playground dreams are sadly eclipsed by the reality that less than 1% of high school players are offered a college scholarship. Moreover, earning a spot on a professional team comes with even a slimmer probability, and no doubt the reporter knew this when he talked to a teenage Love.

“If that reporter wasn't shaking his head, then internally he was probably saying, ‘Dream on young fella,’” Love said.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love reacts after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love reacts after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Relating his journey to the graduates’ journey, Love said this experience doesn’t mean their story is “etched in stone.” Just like the reporter tried to discount his dream, the class of 2020 has its own set of naysayers in the form of economists whose analysis says that COVID-19 has permanently altered an entire generation’s earnings potential.

“Prove them wrong,” Love said. “That reporter didn't know me any more than today's reporters know you when they're predicting an anemic future for your entire generation.”

Goal setting

Love impressed the importance of having a North Star, a reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing despite the challenges or obstacles in your path. While a central goal is paramount, it’s also okay to follow detours on your journey and experiment. It’s with relentless curiosity that you might end up discovering new talents or passions.

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Through hard work, grit, and genetics, Love’s dream of playing in the NBA materialized, but he admits that he would diversify his interests and talents a little bit more if he could do it all again.

“The world may have opened up faster to me,” he said, “and I would have had the energy for other things that would have enriched my life even more.”

Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement address series will stream live on Fridays at 11 AM ET through June 12. You can watch on Verizon’s LinkedIn Channel, simulcast on Yahoo and Yahoo Life, and will be reaired on Yahoo Finance Fios. Speakers include President Bill Clinton, Hugh Evans, Jen Rubio, and Hans Vestberg.

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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