Sports metaphors are frequently used in all areas of life, especially the business world. Phrases like “Down for the count” (boxing), “In his wheelhouse” (baseball), “…in under the wire” (horseracing),“he dropped the ball” (football) and “the ball’s in her court” (tennis) pervade our everyday speech.
When we hear the phrase “He’s a team player”, most of us think of basketball. And at SPIRE Institute and Academy, one of the student athletes we think of first when we hear that phrase is Tyler Hamilton.
Tyler grew up on the west side of Detroit, Michigan just outside the downtown area, bounded by 8 Mile to the north and the city of Dearborn to the south. “I grew up in a rough area when I first started out, with gangs across the street and gunshots every night,” says Tyler. “We had family members drinking and living in the basement, but my parents decided to move us– me and my four brothers– to a better area. We moved to Romulus, Michigan, and that was a lot better. I didn’t always have everything I wanted, but it was safer.”
A natural athlete, Tyler began burning off his high energy with sports from an early age. After a football injury when he was around 10, he turned to basketball. Although he was not very tall, his brothers and other kids around the neighborhood picked up on his innate ability, timing and competitive nature, and encouraged the 6th-grader to work on his game.
“I would stay outside, even when it was raining to play basketball,” says Tyler. “I was really competitive, so I’d always hurt myself somehow– I always came home with scratches and bruises. My mom would be so worried and mad at me…she’d say ‘Why you always getting hurt, baby?’ But my brothers pushed me to play hard so I’d get tough and strong so I wouldn’t get bullied or anything.”
In elementary school, Tyler got involved with the Motor City Thunder, a youth basketball organization in the metro Detroit areas whose mission is to provide a high level of sports fitness training and skill development. MCThunder also provides student athletes with tutoring and ACT/SAT workshop preparation classes to prepare them to compete for tuition scholarships, both athletic & academic. The organization also works to set the stage for college coaches to evaluate student athletes like Tyler Hamilton by placing its teams in NCAA-sanctioned and certified events.
A point/shooting guard Tyler entered high school as one of the shorter players on the team. “I’ve almost always been one of the smallest guys on the court,” he says. “That’s why I always had to play with the most heart and the most pride.”
As a 5’8” sophomore, he caught the eye of one of SPIRE’s basketball coaches, who invited him to play for the international boarding school’s elite team in Geneva, Ohio. At SPIRE, says Tyler, he has developed physically and mentally, honing his natural ability and learning the focus and concentration it takes to excel.
“I think my strengths on the court are my defensive game, scoring and rebounding,” says Tyler.
“I have good handles and throw nice dimes to my teammates. I always try to bring every bit of my energy to the court and work hard to be a leader. I try to help in every aspect of the game.”
Off the court, Tyler is also a leader and a true team player. “I love these guys,” he says. “Living with them, eating with them, doing everything with them…it’s like a movie.”
Tyler says he’s probably the most competitive player on his team. He says his teammates have stepped in to play the role his brothers used to back in Detroit. “They push me every day to become the best I can be,” he says. “In return, I try to keep them focused so they can stay on top of their school work– they need school just as much as basketball.”
When Tyler’s not on the court, he likes to watch Sharife Cooper play. A point guard like Tyler, Cooper, who plays for the Auburn Tigers, was a five-star recruit and one of the best players in the 2020 class.
“I guess you could say that Sharife Cooper is one of my heroes, but my bigger heroes are God, my family and my doubters,” says Tyler. His doubters, you ask? “My doubters force me to work as hard as I can, if for no other reason than to prove they’re wrong,” he laughs. “They push me to get to my goals, and for this year, that is simply to play my best, become closer to God and to play for any Division I’m offered.”