With less than three minutes remaining in the Wizards' exhibition game against China's Guangzhou Long-Lions on Monday night, guard Carrick Felix hustled to get position in the lane on defense to take a charge.
As soon as he was granted the call, the Wizards' bench all rose in unison to celebrate.
The Wizards were up nearly 30 points in a game most would deem meaningless. But for Felix, just being on the court was an achievement in its own.
Felix, 27, hasn't played in the NBA since the 2013-14 season, when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in between the LeBron James eras.
A second round pick out of Arizona State in 2013, he spent the 2014 offseason with the Utah Jazz but soon after had his career derailed by a horrific knee injury.
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While playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League, Felix fractured his knee cap. As he describes it, he "broke [his] knee in half."
That was in November of 2014 and from there he sat out two years, unable to play basketball but with plenty of time to think about his future.
"It was a struggle," Felix said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast. "It was a battle between fighting against myself and my mind and my demons and just trying to stay positive. During that time I was hurt, I learned a lot about myself."
Felix never wavered on his dream to return to the NBA, but he had no intention of putting all his eggs in one basket. With a masters degree in Communications from Arizona State University (he graduated early while playing), Felix explored his options.
With the discipline of an Air Force family upbringing (including several years in the D.C. area), Felix did what he could to stay busy and maintain balance during an arduous rehab process.
"I started doing a lot of keynote speaking, a lot of public speaking," he said. "That's kind of what I want to get into is motivational speaking, when it's all said and done. I have a small start-up, a tech start-up, with a buddy of mine. I was able to take advantage of different things."
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An NBA player with a tech start-up? Yes, the company is called Zing It.
"Basically what we are is like an online concierge service. We pretty much allow people to go onto our website and our app platform and pre-book their jetskis, boats, bikes; anything that has to do with outdoor recreational equipment. If you go on vacation, you can kinda chill and instead of going on Google and all that stuff, you can go on your phone and easily book what you want to do," Felix explained.
Felix has big plans for when, as he calls it, "the ball stops bouncing." He studies popular motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and Eric Thomas, hoping one day to find success in helping others.
If Felix someday needs to demonstrate the power of perseverance in overcoming the odds, perhaps he can reference his own life as a testimonial.
After three full years away from the NBA, two of them rehabbing a devastating knee injury, his determination could be used to inspire.
Felix is now fully healthy and is one of the best dunkers on the Wizards. He won their team dunk contest on Friday night at training camp in Richmond and threw down a few crowd-pleasing slams on Monday against the Long-Lions.
Not bad for a guy whose career was once in real jeopardy.
"For me personally, it's been a blessing. Every day when I wake up I just look in the mirror and smile because having the opportunity like this, a lot of people don't get," he said.
Hear Felix's full interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast right here:
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