To be honest, playing a sport is incredibly exciting. Being on the court, field or even center stage, displaying your raw talent in front of hundreds or thousands of people is powerful. For myself, it’s the game of basketball that keeps me going.

I love hearing the crowd and scores of fans cheering me on. It gives me energy to perform to my highest ability.

Fast forward to the locker room—I’m looking down at my phone, checking to see if I have received a message from my number one supporters: my mother, Robin Phillips and my father, Kevin Phillips Sr. The text messages range from “Great shot Kevin, keep it up” to “What in the world was that son?”

Through my successes and my failures, my parents have always been my biggest supporters, as well as being my biggest criticizers.  My pursuit toward reaching my basketball dream began when my senior season of high school basketball ended.

At that point, my parents had seen how serious I was about the game and wanted to help me develop my skill. I got my first gym membership and would work out during the week with my dad. I would watch films and highlights from past games, and they would send me motivational texts before my games and tell me certain things I need to work on afterwards. If you got a glimpse of the back and forth texting between my parents, you would be able to see two distinct roles played when they text me.

I would consider my mother as my personal “hype-man.” For those who may not know what that is, it is a person rooting for you and is constantly in your ear, mind and heart, letting you know about how great you are and will do against your opponent.

During the past four years of my college basketball career, she has always been my cheerleader, sending me text messages of encouragement about the game and telling how much she loves me. A fond memory I have of her was during my first semester of college, she sent me a message that I still read unto this day. It read:

“Kevin, there is a reason why you do what you do… There is a reason why you can be the one to make the change on the floor when you guys are down… There is a reason why… You are just too good! Kick butt and take names and make sure the other team’s players see those initials tattooed on the back of your arms as you walk away from your slam dunks! Go Maple Leafs.

Loving you always, mom!”

She topped off the message with a blowing kiss heart emoji.

These texts messages helped me feel confident in my skills, my moves, my swagger, and it increases my love for the sport. Having my mother in my corner cheering me on at all my games is something of importance to me. She is one of those moms who talks out loud at every point in the game. Her favorite thing to say to me in a game is when I’m about to shoot free throws is;

“Come on, bend your knees baby and take your time, you got it, get you a free point.”

Some people may think that’s embarrassing, but I don’t. I embrace it in any way possible, and I’m very thankful for it.

I would describe my father as the “media guy.” He can ride with you and give you all the compliments in the world, or he can be completely honest if you played like trash. The key to surviving the media, or my father in this instance, is to never take the negative feedback personal.

Unlike my mother, my father rarely texts me before a game, but he sure does shoot them left, right and center during a game.

An example would be if I was watching Michael Jordan or controlling him on a game, he’d sound like this:  “Crossover, okay now get to the paint, now shot fake the big, now the up and under move; bucket!” That’s how my father is, but through text messaging.

His texts are normally simple, straightforward and to the point; “good move to the basket son…you have to go stronger…use your left” etc.  The texts act like an evaluation on how I played, so I tend to take them very seriously. These critiques changed the way I play and look at the game. My father always follows up with a “good job son!” text. Unlike my mother, however, he doesn’t use any emojis.

Overall, I know I’m their son and that they love me. It amazes me how committed they are to make sure my basketball career prospers. I appreciate my parents for coming to a majority of my colleges games throughout the past four years. Whether it be snow, rain, or hail; you’ll find my parents cheering me on.

Now that the season has ended, catching every glimpse of them as I run up and down the court is what is important to me. I just hope one day when I have a child of my own, I can be their “hype-man” and “media guy” too.