Full transcript of Grayson ‘The Professor’ Boucher’s inspirational TEDx Talk: How to Grow from Underdog to Basketball and Social Media Icon at TEDxDenHelder conference. This event occurred on October 8, 2018.
NOTABLE POINTS FROM THIS TALK:
- You have to prove yourself every day.
- Hearing “No” isn’t the end of the road.
- I would encourage everybody to try to seek their passion, because I think often that’s where you can find your purpose.
Grayson ‘The Professor’ Boucher – Streetball Legend
My name is Grayson Boucher, better known as The Professor. I’ve been blessed to play the game of basketball for 15 years professionally and still going.
I’ve had the opportunity to be hosted for events in over 40 countries worldwide. Though I’m an athlete, technically my job title is social influencer.
For those of you guys who don’t know what social influencer is it’s somebody who utilizes social media full-time for a living.
My main part of my business is my YouTube channel: Professor Live. I have 3 million subscribers, over 400 million views and it’s host to the number one web series on all of YouTube called Spiderman Basketball.
Now despite any of this, when I walked to the stage a few seconds ago, my guess is that none of you would have assumed that I’m a professional basketball player.
As a short white guy, I don’t have any outstanding athletic features, not all, not big.
So when people hear that I’m a pro ball player, they tend to ask two things.
First thing they ask is: How? How is it that you’re a professional ball player based on your size and stature?
The second thing they ask is: Why? Why are you not in the NBA? Because when people think about a long-standing basketball career they tend to think of the NBA.
So that’s why I’m here today. I want to take you guys through my journey and answer those couple of questions.
It all started off for me — small suburb town of Keizer, Oregon. Started playing basketball at two years old. My dad put the basketball in my hands. He had a passion for the game and it wore off on me almost instantly.
I started playing basketball every day. Started on a Larry Bird nerve hoop and then this is the driveway that I was practicing every day.
My goal was to be in NBA by about third grade.
I started working with a skills trainer. This skills trainer taught me some vital fundamental ball handling drills, they needed for the long run.
By sixth grade, I had mastered a few moves. For you ball players, I mastered the in and out, in and out crossover and then my favorite moved to Allen Iverson Crossover. Allen Iverson was my favorite NBA player at that time.
Now my whole childhood I was very very small. I was always a late bloomer. All my peers were always way bigger than me. So I was on the court, I was always playing bigger competition.
And when I would do crossovers and moves like that against the defense, the crowds would go crazy.
Freshman year in high school, I was 4’11, 85 pounds. As you can see number 10, much smaller than my teammates. Started on the Freshman team. Things were good.
15 years old. I got a hold of the AND1 Mixtapes. These tapes had gritty street ball and it was a flashy style of play with hip hop music over the top as of VHS tapes put out by the company. AND1 was a sneaker and apparel company that they used this to promote their brand.
So these things inspired me the next level, the guys that were playing on them were my idols and it made me want to take my ball handling creativity to the next level.
Junior year in high school, I get cut from the varsity team. This was a major bummer to me. My whole identity was in basketball. So for me not to be able to play with my peers on the varsity level and have to play junior varsity as a junior was kind of embarrassing. I hated it.
And at this time, the AND1 style of play had sort of started to influence my game.
I remember one time my coach pulled me aside and he said, “Grayson, is everything okay?”
And I was like, “Yeah, what’s up?”
He said, “Well, are you dribbling for show or you dribbling for dough?”
And I remember I said dough. But the truth is my play started to look like the sizzle reels that you saw earlier is a little bit flashy.
Come senior year. Transferred to a small school: Salem Academy Christian. There’s only like 300 kids in the entire school. I wanted to get more opportunity and to plan on a varsity team. I got the second team all-state. I was one vote away from League MVP and I averaged 22 points and 7 assists.
So things were going pretty good.
After my senior year, I was thinking I would get some college offers. But it turned out I got no college offers.
I went to try out for three different colleges. I got cut from all three. Every time the coach would tell my dad the same thing and say, “Hey, you know what, this kid’s got some skills offensively, but he’s a little bit small. You know, we don’t think he could guard anybody at this level.”