Searching for a little extra motivation on this fine Sunday? Allow Leo Lyons and Nicole Hudson to help you out. Each was the subject of a lovely profile this weekend; Lyons is still scuffling up the D-League totem pole and trying to get noticed by an NBA squad, while Hudson proved willing to do absolutely anything in the world, including playing center field, to reach Team USA. Great stuff from both.
"The last year and a half, I felt like I was NBA-ready," Lyons said. "When you're in the D-League, it's a huge sacrifice as far as passing up on the money that overseas offers, but when they look at the list and they see that you're in the next city over or you're very close, typically guys from the D-League get called before a lot of the overseas guys."
He admitted to feeling discouraged when the call didn't come, but he's optimistic his chance will be coming soon.
Lyons vowed that if he gets invited to a training camp, he will make the team, but that alone won't be enough to satisfy him.
"To me, it wouldn't mean that much because I know where I belong, and I know I can play with the best of them," he said. "Really, I just want to improve, get there and show that I won't just be one of those one-year-in guys and one year out. I want to be a solid player. Hopefully, I can get a good role on the team and continue that for the rest of my career."
When you've seen your city recover from a nightmare, there are fewer excuses not to chase a dream when the opportunity presents itself. Hudson long ago imagined herself in a Team USA uniform, but it still seemed little more than imagination run amok as recently as the start of her final college season. She wasn't on the 50-player preseason watch list for national player of the year. She wasn't among the 25 finalists at midseason. She wasn't a first-team all-conference selection. She was a patient power hitter whose underrated career was winding to a close. She contemplated whether she wanted to try the professional league or move on to the next phase of her life.
Sitting around her apartment playing cards during spring break when she got the invitation to try out for the national team, she had to read the email several times to believe what it said. Even when she got to the selection camp in Oklahoma City in early June, she still felt like the invite might have gone to the wrong person. […]
It took more than a year for the family to rebuild and reopen the store lost to the storm. Many in Joplin lost much more. But it did reopen, just as people rebuilt houses and a city regained normalcy. Eventually, even the trees will return. What's left is the experience.
"I know it was tough on her and her family," said former Missouri teammate and friend Jenna Marston. "Especially that next summer, going back home, she saw all the effects of the tornado -- and from what she said, what she saw that summer was even a lot better than when it first hit. I think it really had an effect on her as a person and just her outlook."