This year’s 2014-2015 Summer League MVP is…Emaad Kamran Siddiqui! Emaad averaged 24 points per game, with 6 assists, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and 5 blocks in the season! Now, I am sure you are all thinking, “Emaad was always good at basketball.” Let me tell you, this has not always been the case. In 2014, I started to play basketball and sucked miserably. My talent as a 13 year old was equivalent to that of a 7 year old. I was bad! I tried out for my school team and, surprisingly, I made it. But once I saw the roster, I realized why I was chosen — I was a giant compared to the other players. As the season started, I thought my dreams were becoming a reality. I always wanted to start in a basketball game, and I got my chance — a chance I would soon regret. The last ten seconds of the first game, we were down by one and I had the ball. The crowd started to chant the countdown: “5…4…3…2…” I took my shot. The buzzer went off…and I missed it. All that was going through my head was that my teammates trusted me with the game-winning shot and I disappointed them. I never felt so down in my life. The season continued and I kept missing shots. I ended up being benched in every game. By the end of the season, I had played a whopping 3 out of the 10 games, and scored 2 points in each. As the season finished, I became disheartened. I thought of giving up and trying a different sport. But my mom had other plans. As summer came, she told me she had put me in a two-week-long basketball camp. I was devastated. All those bad memories hit me all at once, especially missing the winning shot. As the summer league started, my game was still lacking in many ways. Then, one day, my coach pulled me aside and told me that he saw potential in me. He told me that I was only lacking confidence. “Basketball is 90% mental and only 10% physical, ” he said. My first response was, “What?” I didn’t believe him. I thought he was saying all that out of sympathy. Still, when the second week approached, I decided to take his advice and play with confidence in myself. Suddenly, I saw a huge difference in my game. I was able to make consistent layups, deep three pointers, and crazy blocks that everyone congratulated me on. When our first game came, I was ready. From the moment the game started until the moment it ended, I played like it was the championship. I scored 18 points and had 4 blocks. After that, we won game after game, making our way to the championship game. The day of the championship game, I had a feeling something special was going to happen, and was soon about to find out what it was. From the moment the game started, there was a totally different vibe in the gym. Everyone was on their feet and cheering loudly. Everyone seemed in place except for me. I was not my usual self and kept missing shot after shot. I was struggling terribly. At halftime, the opposing team was up by 15 points. Just before we started the second half, something caught my eye. It was the head coach. He pointed at his head and then he pointed directly at me. I knew exactly what that meant. When the second half started, I was ready. I went from scoreless in the first half to unstoppable in the second half. In the last ten seconds of the game, the other team was up by one and I had the ball. Now five seconds, four, three, two, one – I shot… and scored! The whole crowd went crazy and all my teammates jumped on me. It felt great! When they started announcing awards, I had no idea that I was going to win anything. But then I heard it: This year’s 2014-2015 summer league MVP is…. Emaad Kamran Siddiqui! To this day, I still remember this amazing advice for every challenge I take on: that 90% of the struggle is believing that you can do it!