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Sunday Chat - Thomas living the hoops dream
LeVaughn Flynn, Staff Reporter
THIS SUMMER will be like no other for basketball player Mugabe Thomas.
Jamaica's version of the human highlight film formalises his marriage next weekend and is in the middle of a possible move from Mexico to Japan to continue living his basketball dreams.
Since graduating in 2006 with a communications degree from Cedarville University, a small-town Division Two school in the American state of Ohio, Thomas has been in Mexico playing professionally. He is now with his fourth club, Lobos UAD Mazatlan, and recently won the Cibacopa Championship, Mexico's second-tier league.
"Mexico has been a blast," said Thomas gleefully to Sunday Chat on Thursday after a shoot-around at St George's College.
"When I first went there it was a struggle with the language, but right now I'm pretty fluent in Spanish," he said.
"Mexicans love athletes," Thomas added. "Out here people show love, but in a different way. In Mexico, if they see me on the road they are like 'Mugabe, where you going? Want a ride?' They put us on such a high pedestal."
Thomas, 28, and listed at 6' 4" and 210 pounds, always seemed to be the one jumping off a pedestal on the way to the rim ever since he was in high school playing for Camperdown and later Hydel. He was a beast among babies on the court and won titles at every age group, as well as a pair of MVP trophies.
In 2002, Thomas was awarded a scholarship to Cedarville where shortly after he would meet his future wife, Melody Thomas.
"I met her my second day in college," Thomas recalled.
"We have good camaraderie together and good conversation, so I really like having her with me. She's my little quarterback," he joked.
Since returning from Mexico, Thomas has been busy making final preparations for his wedding ceremony. The couple officially got married last July in the U.S. but next weekend's ceremony will be an event to share with family and friends.
Thomas grew up in the tough community of Franklyn Town, where his parents Leroy Thomas and Velretta Hemmings still live.
After losing several friends to violence and surviving the depressed conditions, Thomas said his experiences have forged a tenacious mentality in him.
"Everything I've been through made me who I am. It made me that tough individual - that person that's not really scared of anything easily," he pointed out. "Some times I'm on the court and we're down by 15, 20 points and I just think back on everything and I just get that killer instinct."
Thomas added that his parents' guidance was also vital with so many negative influences around him.
"My parents had a big influence on my life. If more children had parents like I did, Jamaica would be a better place," he said.
Thomas left Cedarville as the school's fifth best scorer of all time and is second in most points and rebounds by one player.
Those stats, along with his athletic ability, attracted Mexican team Tiburones where he first played. While he is happy in Mexico, his ambitions are higher.
"(Getting to the NBA) is my ultimate goal, but it's not my main focus. My main focus is to survive," he said. "If the NBA pops up and they like what they see, fine.
"(However) I'm not satisfied. I want more. And whenever the door opens I will take the opportunity. I know it will come, I'm not worried about it."