Brea Elmore | Stone Mountain, GA
Former Memphis Basketball Player
Written by Malik Brown
I was born and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I followed in my big brother’s footsteps. He was an active person in sports and played football and baseball. I didn’t just want to sit back and do nothing, so I started off with cheerleading. Then I picked up the basketball and ever since then I never put it down.
I was five when I started playing basketball. My dad helped me grow that competitive edge. We'd be in the backyard almost every day until the sun was down. Sometimes he'd throw the ball across the yard and make me so mad. But I had to go get it, and I had to play. It really helped me stay competitive and build that strong grit in me.
When I first started playing basketball I was very nervous and very uneasy, just having to step out there and play. Your parents are in the stands, and the yelling gets to you as well, so just stepping into that confidence was tough. Gradually as I got better, I was more confident, and I started believing in myself.
I try not to look at other people as my competition, but as myself. So when I'm playing basketball and I mess up on a play, I just have a mental conversation with myself like, “That's okay. Next play.” I'm my biggest competitor.
I can't pinpoint the moment that I knew I could make basketball out of a career. When I talked to my brother he said he saw it in me. I was just doing what I love to do, so I never really saw myself going to college for this. It just all kind of came, but to pinpoint it I would say middle school. That's when I think I said I'm pretty good at this.
I hated the recruiting process. I hated taking the visits because I was in my shell and I was having to break out and talk to these coaches and I’m like, “Oh my God.” It was kind of overwhelming, but at the same time, I enjoyed it. I don’t remember my first offer, but I do remember that Memphis came for a house visit. It was so funny because when they left, I told my brother I wasn’t going to Memphis and I was very headstrong on that. But I was so tired of the recruiting process. I was like, let me go ahead and commit. It wasn't like I wanted to go because I liked the school, it was because I was tired of the recruiting process.
I'd gotten this card from Memphis and I put it on my dresser. One day I got home from practice, and I just looked at it. I was like, “Okay, I'm gonna go to Memphis.” I feel like if it was another card I probably would have selected that school. It sounds crazy, but that's the truth.
As a four-year athlete at the University of Memphis, I would say it was one of the toughest journeys of my life thus far. Just coming in as a freshman, I was really confident, and then the confidence dropped and I started questioning if I could play. I lost my love for the game after my sophomore year because it was tough. I felt like there was a difference between coaching and tearing the player down. A lot of us freshmen felt like we were getting torn down. It was tough. It was a battle. Every time in practice, it would be the upperclassmen versus the underclass, and we were going at it because we wanted to play. I went home, got in the gym, and got my confidence back in my junior and senior year. Those were great years, but those first two were rough.
I would always call my mom complaining, but I'd say counseling was definitely an option. I didn't use it until my junior year. Freshman and sophomore year, it was either parents or teammates. Sometimes it was hard to trust teammates, so it was really parents. I was definitely depressed and going through it.
Losing my mom made me start going to counseling. I was dealing with that, and everything that came with basketball. My grades were slipping. I wasn't going to class. I wasn't doing work, because I wasn't there at the time. I remember just going into the office, and somebody told me “Try to bottle that up and put it in a box.” I felt so disregarded and disrespected. After that, I checked out and I went to counseling. It helped, but I still struggled.
I talked to my brother. We always talked, but moving forward, it was really hard. I felt numb for a very long time. I lost direction, but when I started my clothing line, I feel like that's when I was able to come back. Mind you, I lost my mom in 2016, and I didn't start my brand until 2020. That was four years of just feeling numb through life and not really knowing how to navigate it. I’m not in counseling right now, but I know how to journal and go outside and do different things to get myself back to myself.
I would definitely say journal, write it down, because holding that stuff in doesn't hurt anybody but you. So get it out, write it down. If I don't want to write sometimes, I'll just prop up my camera and just talk. Sometimes I'll cry, smile, or laugh, but I'm getting those emotions out. I would definitely say meditate, sit with yourself, get your answers from yourself. It's hard sometimes to go and get that advice from other people because only you can fix you, but sometimes you get your answers from yourself if you just pay attention and listen.
I play in the AEBL, and this is my first year with them. I haven't played organized basketball in two years so it's nerve racking. I came from overseas, and I was playing in front of a lot of Caucasian people. Now I'm back in a Black audience and you hear the crowd getting excited. It's different, but I love it.
When COVID started and they sent us home, I was like “What am I going to do?” I kept having thoughts of “What do you like to do?” I like to eat, and I want to be a chef. I like to get dressed. But I needed a message behind my brand. When I lost my mom to breast cancer, one thing she always just told me growing up was the only person that can stop you, is you. I took that and ran with it, and I started November 5, 2020. I never stopped and it helped me grow spiritually and mentally in life.
I think one of the things that I've carried over from basketball to my business career is leadership. When you're an athlete, you have to have that motivation to get up and do it. Nobody is going to tell you to get in the gym. If you love it, you do it. I took that mindset and shifted it to my business. I didn't know anything about building a brand, so I would just wake up and do research.
I feel like I haven't found my purpose because life is a journey. I'm always learning new things every day and I feel like nobody has one purpose. I feel like we're here to serve and do what we can to uplift people and bring them up. I feel like the more I go on my journey, the more I'll step into different roles with my purpose, but having just one purpose, no.
Creative Direction: Nia Symone / Tyrone McClendon
Director of Photography: Scoot Took It
GFX & Video Edits by: Ethan Garner
Story Written by: Malik Brown