Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Newfoundland basketball star home for break, eyeing one more season in pro ranks

Carl English is back in Newfoundland and awaiting the next stop in his long, well-travelled basketball career.

After 10 years in Europe, English hopes for more

Carl English talks life after basketball

5 years ago
4:50
Carl English is back in Newfoundland and awaiting the next stop in his long, well-travelled basketball career. 4:50

Carl English is back in Newfoundland and awaiting the next stop in his long, well-travelled basketball career.

The 35-year-old product of Patrick's Cove is fresh off a training stint in Spain, where he has played eight of the last nine seasons.

Despite his age, the free agent guard wants back in the pro ranks for another year or two.

"I'm a young 35," he said with a laugh during an interview with Here and Now's Debbie Cooper.

After leaving home to play high school ball in Toronto, English spent three years at the University of Hawaii. He went unpicked through the 2003 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft and had unsuccessful tryouts in Indiana and Seattle. From there, he spent time in Italy and Croatia before making Spain his new home.

English is looking to eventually run a basketball program at a new facility at home in Newfoundland. (CBC)

'A good living'

The Liga Endesa, Spain's highest level of professional basketball, is considered a top-tier league, just below the NBA.

"It's a good living," he said of the European basketball life. "In those cities, you are the pro team. So you're treated amazing. Everywhere you go, you're a celebrity."

I'm a young 35.- Carl English

Along the way, English had three children — two boys and one girl — with his wife, Mandy.

Having a family while playing abroad has it's challenges, but also major perks, he said.

"Sometimes it's difficult, I'm not going to lie," he said, noting they miss their relatives in Newfoundland. "But we have each other."

From a cultural standpoint, his children have learned things they would never learn at school. They've adapted to new situations, new schools and new languages.

Life after basketball

But now, with the kids growing up and his body growing older, the former university all-star thinks about life after basketball.

After years of sacrifices, English wants his wife to come first.

English had to deal with tragedy in his own life before making it to the pro basketball ranks. (CBC)

"I would like my wife to do what she wants to do," he said. "She put her careers on hold to follow me and do the family thing."

He is in talks to build a multiplex in Newfoundland, housing four or five different sports. English would use his experience to run a basketball program at the facility.

"I feel there's a lot I can give back and help the younger generation," he said. "Not only from basketball, but just on life lessons — dealing with tragedy, dealing with success, dealing with failure. There's so much you can learn from sports."

Overcoming tragedy

Nary a story goes by about English without mentioning the tragedy in his past.

At just five years of age, he lost both parents in a house fire. Sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Patrick's Cove, he spent his time shooting hoops on the highway outside his house.

I feel there's a lot I can give back and help the younger generation.- Carl English

Three decades later, English has a career that's spanned continents and brought plenty of love into his life. But there's only one thing he fell just short of — playing in the NBA.

"It's haunted me for many years," he said. "I don't have any regrets, but it's always been my dream to play (in the NBA)."

Now he hopes to stretch out his career for one or two more seasons before riding off into the sunset with his wife and kids.

"It becomes harder when your kids get older," he said. "They have their friends and they get more stable in the area they are (in). But right now I feel great, the body feels good, and I want to continue."

With files from Here and Now

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