CEBL fathers are accustomed to distance from family while chasing basketball dream

The distance from family during a hub sports resumption may be uncharted territory for NBA players, Kelsea O'Brien writes, but for the fathers of the CEBL it is one they know all too well.

Stingers' Daniels, Nighthawks' Tate among many balancing sport, young children

Edmonton Stingers forward Travis Daniels attempts a layup during a game against the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Aug. 1. Daniels is one of many fathers playing in the CEBL Summer Series who have experienced being away from family to play basketball. (Canadian Elite Basketball League)

For NBA fathers, the landscape of basketball's restart is an unfamiliar one. One that takes them away from their families or their children for months at a time.

The luxuries of home, wherever that may be, are temporarily suspended. No longer can they seek comfort in the affection of their kids after a tough loss, or find them in the crowd after a big win.

Instead, fleeting moments slipped in between practices, games, and FaceTime calls are the new normal for the time being.

The distance and loneliness may be uncharted territory for NBA players, but for the fathers of the CEBL it is one they know all too well.

"[My daughter] is to the age where she knows that I'm coming, and we talk all the time through FaceTime," Edmonton Stingers forward Travis Daniels said. "When I get time I can go get her and see her. But it's kind of tough because the times that I need to be there I can't be there."

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Daniels — whose career has taken him back and forth between Canada and Greece for the past two years after spending time in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Dominican Republic — admits that pursuing his basketball dream has not been without sacrifice.

When speaking about Zuri, his five-year-old daughter, Daniels recognizes the need for stability.

"Some of the NBA players are still in the states, but being overseas is tough because she has to be in school and you know [she has] friends and stuff, and all of that plays a role."

Balance and time management

Though on opposing teams, both Daniels and Guelph Nighthawks forward Tyrrel Tate have more in common than their position on the court. Both are fathers to five-year-old daughters.

Tate's time in the G League and Canada has kept him closer to daughter Chloe, but fortunately he has not yet had to endure the long periods between seeing her that most experience when playing oversees.

Tate resides in North Carolina and Chloe in D.C. He credits proper time management for perfecting the juggling act of being in multiple places at the same time.

"It's more difficult mainly because I'm not actually from D.C., I'm from North Carolina," Tate said. "I balance North Carolina, D.C., and wherever I'm playing. Just balancing the three can get challenging, but she's always a bright part of my day, so it's worth it."

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Even with five years of experience under his belt, Tate still struggles.

"I've 100 per cent missed out on stuff. You miss out on a lot of stuff you wouldn't want to, for sure.

"Just trying to keep a positive mind and knowing that I'm trying to do it for her keeps me going, but you definitely miss out on a lot, you sacrifice a lot if you choose a career that you're going to be travelling a lot."

Travelling the world

Veteran and fellow Nighthawks player Olu Famutimi can serve as an example to Tate in both basketball and parenting.

The father of two has learned over the course of 9 years of parenting to make the best of every opportunity. Playing in Turkey during his wife's first pregnancy, Olu made certain that his family would be taken care of no matter where he took his talents.

"[My daughter] was born in Atlanta, my wife is from Atlanta, so we were living in Atlanta at the time and I went to Turkey before them," said Famutimi, a Toronto native. "I was there for a couple of months and then flew them out. Fatherhood is a beautiful thing, but at times it does get a little hectic as far as my schedule.

"They might be by themselves at times, but at the same time they still get to travel the world and learn about different cultures and religions ... It's just easier playing at home, taking care of my family and then going to play ball and see friends and family right down the street."

Olu Famutimi represents Canada in a FIBA exhibition match against France in 2010. Famutimi says travelling for basketball has allowed his family to experience new cultures. (Adrien Veczan/The Canadian Press)

Echoing the sentiments of Daniels and Tate is Hamilton Honey Badgers guard Cody John. The Mississauga, Ont., native is a father to three-year-old Kingston.

"I don't get to see him as much, but I try to do my best to go back and forth," John said. "Especially because he lives in the States. It's not like he lives here, so I just try to do my best, but still lock in at the same time and basically just do this for him. This motivates me everyday.

"He's starting to play basketball now, so I miss a lot of that. As soon as this is done I'm going to see him."

Safety first

The ability to move around freely while the children are young is a vacuum in time where the days are long but the years are short.

Fraser Valley guard Junior Cadougan, who is expecting his second child in the fall, is ready for anything that is thrown at him next.

The father to two-year-old Myasia has spent his most recent seasons in Canada, but is open to showing his children the world in the same way Famutimi has.

His two years of parenting experience as a professional basketball player have been a grounding force for teammate Marek Klassen, who is expecting his first child around the same time as Cadougan.

Klassen may not be a father yet, but his mindset changed drastically the second he learned he was to become one.

"I've signed a contract to go overseas, but it was a really different decision-making process this time," he said. "First things first, where can I go that my wife can deliver? Is it going to be a safe country?

"Now, with the baby on the way it's [safety first]."

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Kelsea's venture into the sports world began by attending Hamilton Tiger-Cats games with her father as a toddler. She is a freelance sportswriter who covers the Raptors 905 for Raptors Republic, and profiles athletes – past and present – for McMaster University.

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