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Jessica Breland’s Fight For Life Inspired A Career In Wellness

Jessica Breland grew up in Kelford, North Carolina and attended Bertie High School. She was a three-sport athlete, but recognized primarily for her talents in basketball. In her senior year, she averaged 22 points per game and 12 rebounds and was selected as an All-American. Breland was offered a scholarship to the University of North Carolina for basketball, however in 2009, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. She underwent chemotherapy and was forced to sit out for the rest of the 2009-2010 season, but did all she could to recover and get back on the basketball court.

In 2011, Breland was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx, but was constantly impacted by the lingering effects of the disease, forcing her to leave the WNBA temporarily. The chemo treatments completely ruined her conditioning and made it very difficult to get back in shape. However, with perseverance and motivation to get back to basketball, she fought hard and eventually worked her way back into the league in 2014.

Once Breland was back on the court and performing as an All-Star for the Indiana Fever,  she decided to create a second career by opening her own spa business called “BR3” in Durham, North Carolina. Although it wasn’t easy, her mental and physical strength helped her reach her goals. Breland says, “Experiencing a life-threatening disease like cancer helped me with my strength that I have here to push through. The days that I’m beat up, mentally, physically exhausted, not knowing if I can handle all of this.”

The spa officially opened in 2018 and has hit her intended targets for the first year, while continuing to recruit more employees as it grows. “BR3’s” popularity has spread quickly; even Duke basketball stars Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett have even utilized her treatments to stay fresh on-the-court.

Today, Breland, who is 31 years old, continues to play in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream and is cancer-free nearly 10 years after the disease went into remission. She spends her time during the off-season working on her spa and looking to make the business grow exponentially each year.

Leaving It All On The Line

In what became an inspiring win for the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the game’s expectations fell nothing short of a tough, hard-fought battle. The team needed to dig deep, persevere and overcome adversity to get past the deep lineup of the Denver Nuggets.

Unfortunately, the win came at the cost of two integral members of the Trail Blazers’ lineup, who put their bodies on the line to obtain the win. Rodney Hood, a key bench player that has helped sustain the team’s success in the series, injured his leg with a left knee hyperextension and left in the third quarter of Game 7. Hood, who was instrumental in cementing their 4OT, Game 3 win with a dagger with 18.6 seconds left, has remained optimistic that he will be able to play in Game 1 of the upcoming series.

Enes Kanter also faced upward battles throughout the series. Not only had he taken over the starting center role after Jusuf Nurkic suffered a gruesome leg injury at the close of the season, but he has had to take on the challenge of playing in the postseason while observing Ramadan for the first time and nursing an injured shoulder.

For those observing the holiday, one must fast from sunrise until sunset each day, abstaining completely from food and water, to commemorate the month that God began to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. As it coincides with the NBA playoffs, Kanter must test the limitations of his mental and physical strength.

Game 7 began at 1:30pm in Denver, CO this past weekend, therefore, Kanter had to fast until sundown. Throughout the entire game, he was unable to take a sip of water. If that’s not impressive enough, he also finished the game playing 40 of the 48 minutes and had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

After the game, Kanter opened up about playing during the holiday and shared, “More than anything, I want to be an example for children everywhere, showing them that you can thrive when challenged – fasting for Ramadan, for instance, but also going all out in the NBA Playoffs.”

The Portland Trail Blazers will face off in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Draft Day: A Tornado of Emotion

On a typical Thursday night of the NFL Draft, almost all potential draft picks are either sitting around the TV with family and friends or at the draft location hoping to walk across the stage. It’s an extremely exciting, yet nerve-racking time for these NCAA stars. There is nothing else on their minds other than their names being called by an NFL team and fulfilling their lifelong dreams of making it to the show.

Jaylon Ferguson’s story is quite the opposite. After a devastating tornado that ripped through Ruston, LA, in the middle of the night, Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency. Instead of having a draft party, the Defensive End out of Louisiana Tech was out looking for missing people and helping those in need. With at least five people killed by the storms, Ferguson has been delivering water to people who don’t have it, despite it being one of the biggest days in his athletic career.

“Instead of celebrating a lifelong dream, he’s out helping other people,” Ferguson’s agent, Safarrah Lawson, said Thursday. “It speaks to this young man’s character.”

As a projected second-round pick in the draft, there was a chance his name might have been called Thursday, however, it’s likely he will hear his name Friday night. Unfortunately, like most in the area, Ferguson has no cell service and his agent has been unable to reach out to him about his potential landing spots. He hopes by Friday evening his cell service will be restored and that he could break extremely positive news to his client.

First Minutemen. Now Avalanche. Then History.

Entering this past weekend, Cale Makar was a college sophomore at the University of Massachusetts and the top rated prospect in all of hockey. As a standout for the Minutemen and winner of the Hobey Baker Trophy – the hockey equivalent to the Heisman Trophy – he is only at the beginning of his journey in the sport.

Despite losing a tough matchup in the National Championship versus Minnesota Deluth on April 13th, Makar got a taste of his future when signing an NHL deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Two days later, he went down in NHL history.

On April 15th, the 20-year-old entered his first game with the Avalanche versus the Calgary Flames in Game 3 of the NHL Playoffs. Yes, his first game was in a vital playoff matchup in front of the Colorado crowd.

In the first period, Makar’s made his presence felt. With the Avalanche up 2-0, he entered the game and made a break for the net with the puck at his stick. His first shot of the game ended up in the back of the net giving the Avs a 3-0 lead. This shot not only put him in the record books in NHL History, but he also became the first defensemen in league history to score a playoff goal in their NHL debut.

 

Within 48 hours, Makar went from NCAA standout to making history in the NHL. He was also named the 3rd star of the game at the Pepsi Center and celebrated the playoff victory with the stars he has looked up to for years.

Not a bad Monday for the kid. Wishing him best of luck the rest of the playoffs!

— Here’s a video GoodSport created for their broadcast partner about the rising hockey prodigy from UMass…https://vimeo.com/album/5923217/video/331014119

 

Tim Tebow: Taking the Critics Deep

“You’re always going to have critics and naysayers and people that are going to tell you that you won’t, that you can’t, that you shouldn’t. Most of those people are the people that didn’t, that wouldn’t, that couldn’t.”   -Tim Tebow.

 

This has been the story of Tebow’s journey through life. Despite having a record of great accomplishment and a positive personality, he has been roundly criticized for what he has done on, and off the field.

The critics panned his skill-set in NFL. They never expected him to succeed in television. There’s obviously no way he could play professional baseball or produce his first film, right? No way, no how, they said.

Way.

Each day, Tebow pushes aside all those who don’t believe in him and consistently proves that with determination, a strong work ethic and belief in yourself, anyone can achieve their dreams. He uses the negativity from the media as fuel to become stronger than ever before.

As a college football analyst for ESPN, a minor league baseball prospect for the New York Mets, a best-selling author, a motivational speaker, and burgeoning filmmaker, many are now asking: what else can he do?

Well, aside from Tebow’s versatility in sports and entertainment, he is selfless and a workhorse in the community. Whether it’s through the Tim Tebow Foundation and “Night to Shine” events or simply taking the time to help improve the lives of others, he embodies an athlete and role model that many should aspire to be.

He is “the best possible example of what an athlete of amazing standards is.”