Whenever Kaimarr Price had his doubts, and there were many, he always found something to refocus on his goals.
It could be about his nieces and nephews or realizing the truth behind the saying of “With hard work there is nothing you can’t accomplishment.”
Nothing might have been more motivating than seeing fellow Ahwatukee Foothills residents Ty Abbott and Gerell Robinson don Arizona State uniforms or the idea that Christiaan Irvin, a local promising young athlete who died of unknown causes at age 14, never got that chance.
Whatever it was at the time, it got Price through.
“Have I ever considered giving up?” Price wrote in an email. “I had one moment when I was at ASU as a student where I considered if I was done, so I prayed about it. God put too much into me not to do great things and help others in life, and basketball is what I love and my life just wasn’t complete without it.”
That journey has reached its pinnacle after Price recently signed a professional contract to play in Croatia after playing for two high schools, enrolling in four colleges and playing basketball for three of them.
“When I think about the idea of being a pro basketball player, I don’t think it is really something that has hit me yet, it’s a job like everyone has, except I’m able to see the world and do what I love,” Price said. “I think it means more to the people around me because they know how hard it was to get here. And my nieces and nephews are and always have been my biggest fans, so it’s cool to know that they’re able to tell their friends that their uncle is a professional athlete.”
It’s been a roundabout way to get there, to say the least.
He started out at Mountain Pointe and played as a junior before playing his senior year at Casa Grande in 2006-07, which was cut short by microfracture knee surgery.
Price, a 6-foot-9 forward, spent a year at Arizona State before playing at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (2009-10) where he earned a scholarship to Division I Western Illinois (2010-11) before transferring to NAIA Biola University (2011-12).
At CGCC, he had 14.5 points and 10.7 rebounds before starting 25 of 28 games at WIU where he averaged 10.8 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds. In his final collegiate season he moved on to Biola to be closer to home, and produced 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
It is clear that Price, who signed out of The Court Side Euro Challenge camp in Las Vegas, has taken anything but the easy route, but it only makes his time with Osjecki Sokol of the Croatian A League that much better.
“When considering my future, I have the same mind set that I’ve had since I was a little kid, and that is that I’m going to play the game that I love for as long as possible, so probably about 10 years or so from now,” said Price, who signed a one-year deal with a club option. “As far as NBA aspirations, of course they are always there and if there is anything that I have learned over the past five or six years, it’s that you cannot live and dream based off of everyone else’s expectations. Six years ago, I couldn’t just tell people that I would be where I am today, but if you don’t let things get to you and work hard and let the chips fall, who knows what you can accomplish?”
Former Pride coach Sam Ballard, who is now at Mesa Community College, said the potential was always there for Price but he never put it together until after leaving Mountain Pointe.
“He was definitely a late bloomer and was on track to have a good senior year when he left for Casa Grande,” Ballard said. “There were two things holding him back from being really outstanding — he was not the hardest worker and they had visions of his ability that did not match reality at the time.”
Price realized eventually once he was done rehabbing he really found a different perspective when it came to putting in the extra time to make sure he got everything out of his ability.
“For the first time I could ever remember I didn’t have basketball practices, games and the camaraderie, but it was bittersweet. I missed the game too much. I started just going to LA Fitness and trying to get my body back in some sort of shape so that I could at least give it one last shot.”
One that has led to an opportunity many never thought was possible for Price.
“I think that there are other kids out there that for whatever reason are seemingly at the end of the road in whatever their dream is,” he said. “I have seen too many talented people stop dreaming and settle for less than what they are truly capable of, so I hope that my story can help someone else in whatever it is that they are going through.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.