R.J. actually found his first love with the game of football. To this day, he credits the game for helping him gain toughness and grit. Those attributes are essential to how he plays basketball. However, while it was football at the start, it wasn’t long before he found himself on the basketball court. To no one’s surprise, it was his mother who helped him come back to the game.
Dafne and R.J. would work together on his game. She was the one who really helped him get going in the sport he would eventually shine in. However, that did not mean she took it easy on him. R.J. remembers vividly some of the 1-on-1 games. He said “She would beat me. And it was a really humbling experience.”
Dafne would consistently rely on her go-to move, the step back, to beat R.J. As R.J. looks back on these pick-up games, he laughs about it. These early matchups were where R.J. learned how to compete. How to work through adversity on the court. However, what he didn’t realize was it was also where his relationship with his mom would grow to new levels.
As R.J. continued to grow up and go through middle school, Dafne was always there. She would go to games, tournaments, and everything else with him. She also instilled values in him that helped shape him into the player he was going into high school. What kind of player is that? As R.J. puts it, “I love playing defense. It comes from within yourself. You can’t teach competitiveness or willpower. That comes from within you.” As R.J. entered high school, he was ready to compete.