In the 6th Grade, only one thing mattered – basketball. Being the smallest in my class, my parents were realistic about my future basketball dreams. Not me. I was convinced with a fancy pair of basketball shoes and private training, I was going to the NBA. When tryouts came around, the exhilaration flowed through my veins. I play my best game under pressure and and the tryouts were no exception. Despite believing I deserved to make the team, my name was not on the final list. The first failures can be the hardest.
The summer before the 7th Grade tryout, I broke my collarbone. It was devastating – the kind of fracture where the bones are going in completely opposite directions and need ample time to heal. I didn’t get the medical release to start shooting a basketball until two weeks before the tryouts, but it was all I could think about. When I finally got the green light, the ball didn’t leave my hands. It was 5:56 AM when I showed up for the 7 :00 AM tryout. The doors to the gym were still locked. It was my mission to get as many shots in before the other players even showed up. I knew I had something to prove. I don’t think I missed a shot the entire tryout. I played great team basketball. That year, my name made the list. Pushing through paid off.
That year our team went undefeated. The school had a rule that every player had to play in each game. I was the worst player on the team. In a highly intense game against our arch rival with the lead switching every possession, I got up from my seat on the bench and whispered to the coach, “Don’t put me in the game.” That’s the type of team player I was at the age of 13. Team is everything.
Fast forward to today, basketball taught me a lot about life – the skill of bouncing back, and the drill of pushing forward. But sometimes, when the unexpected happens, it’s difficult to realize why, what it means, and how to make sure it doesn’t rock our world.
This week I learned Grace VanderWaal is moving on from TH3RD BRAIN. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to create together with Grace. Our accomplishments together are too many to list here, but what’s most special is the way we held doing good for the world and growth and education as the framework for our mission together. We knew if we focused on these areas, Grace would inherently build an amazing business.
I look forward to watching Grace continue to achieve her dreams as she goes on tour with Imagine Dragons and grows into the artist and young woman she aspires to be. So many think of her as the winner of America’s Got Talent, but Grace is so much more than that. When I first started working with her, I believed her message was that miracles can and do happen. However, over time, I realized Grace’s mission was even more profound – it was about others recognizing the importance of finding their passion and doing what they love. After all, that is the only way to ensure true happiness. I am and always will be Team Grace.
Despite the sadness and ego crush that comes with losing an artist as special as Grace, I am blessed everyday to do what I love. Similar to 6th Grade basketball, I’m learning what it feels like to not be on the team. This is the first time I have parted ways with an artist on their terms in my music career so I am simultaneously experiencing how to lead my team through it. As much as I love the idea of resilience, I’m a bigger fan of grit. Grit is not about bouncing back, it’s about pushing through. Our team and their response are a reminder of the dedication we have for building our artists’ careers at the absolute highest level. We have many amazing artists who entrust in us everyday to lead their teams. I will continue to give my all to them. I look forward to what the future holds as I’m more ready than ever for the next version of the 7th Grade team.