In retrospect, the place I started MMA was not where I should have been. I was already lacking confidence in my life and capability and I began to lose more as the years continued. I did not believe in myself or my fighting ability. During those years I was struggling to find who I am as a person and as a fighter. I was, in a sense, lost. I was in that place between adulthood and childhood where one has to struggle to define his or her role in the world. The best thing I could have done for my life and fight career was attend the University of Michigan where I discovered my true path set out for me.
I now have a firm understanding of what it means to be a part of a brotherhood, a family of fighters. I would do anything for the people I train with and I know I can expect the same loyalty from them. I believe in my coaches, teammates, my family away from home, my best friends, my brothers. I believe in the bond we have and the support we create for one another.
I believe in the message Professor Crabtree sends to his students. He has instilled in me something I always strove for all along; working for what I have and earning what I want. I have known Professor Crabtree for a long time. From the outside I saw how much his students loved him, the sport and each other. I envied that bond and instruction. I am thankful to both Professor Crabtree and his team for accepting me as a part of their family.
I have become more than I ever thought I could have because of his instruction and the support of this family. I have tapped potentials I did not think could exist. Only a Mixed Martial Artist could understand this, but the proudest day of my life was not receiving two bachelors degrees, a masters by the age of 24, having the President of the United States address my graduating class or even becoming a teacher; the proudest moment in my life was accepting my blue belt from one of the people I admire most in this world. I know I worked for it, and I know I earned it. I am thankful for GRBJJ and their support in my pursuit to earn my place in this world.
There are no words to express the sincerity in knowing how blessed I am to train with Master Khillah and Team Lightning Kicks. Master Amir is one of the most talented people I have ever met and he has opened doors for me that I did not even know existed. He has fostered my growth as a fighter and is the truest and kindest heart I have ever met. He cares very deeply about all of his students and spends more time with all of us, helping us excel, than I have ever witnessed. I am blessed to train with the most talented crop of fighters in the state of Michigan and to train with some of the best fighters in the world on occasion. I can never explain what all of these people have meant to my career and more importantly my life.
I am a believer. I have faith. I have been accused of dreaming entirely too much, but then again do fighters not have to dream and believe and put complete faith into the trainer and team they are a part of. I believe in who I am and who I will become despite those who do not think I can make it. I have pushed through door and windows for five years and I am proud of where I have landed. I know the road will still be full of twists and turns but that is all a part of the journey. I know I will do great things... just wait and see.