I don’t want to like him…
A little less than a year ago, last May Nick (my older brother) told me to clean up the apartment because Trae was coming to workout with him for a week, and that he was going to be staying with us.
“Trae who?” I said.
Wait. Wait. Wait. I thought to myself. Trae Young. THE Trae Young, that chose Oklahoma over my beloved Kansas Jayhawks? No way this was happening, not in my house😒. Those were my honest thoughts about this kid staying with us and me agreeing to film and take pictures for my brother.
I wanted not to like him so bad.
It was a Sunday, Trae had just graduated from high school and with no time off the very next day he’s on plane to Denver to workout with my brother, before then heading to California for another week of intense training to get ready for his freshman season at Oklahoma. While most freshman college athletes choose to enjoy the small break between graduation and reporting for summer workouts, Trae had other plans. He decided to dedicate himself to what he knew was ahead if was he willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work. No vacation, no hanging out, just the grind of hard work.
We pulled up to the airport on a crisp, cool, typical Spring Denver day, sun shining probably in the 60’s. Nick and I walked into the DIA baggage claim area anxiously awaiting his arrival. I had on a bright blue 🔵Kansas Basketball🔴 t-shirt and a Kansas Jayhawk lanyard around my neck just to let him know what the deal was😤.
Nick introduced us and Trae politely shook my hand, “Hey Brittany, nice to meet you." We headed back to the car and right as we approached my ride, “Oh, she’s a die hard Kansas fan by the way if you can’t tell.” Nick just had to add that in 😒.
“Yeah. I am, and I really wanted you to pick Kansas but…” I replied like my natural sassy self. Trae just smiled and laughed nicely. Knowing me I was probably mean mugging him so bad.
Work now, rest later…
We got in the car and I remember Nick asking Trae if he wanted to rest now and workout later, or get food, head to DU (University of Denver) to play pick up first and rest later?
With absolutely NO hesitation, Trae responded, “Oh let’s eat real quick and play now. We can rest later.”
“What do you want to eat?” I asked, as I was the chosen chauffeur for the week.
“Y’all got Chipotle?”
Dang it😫. I’m going to like him. I told myself I wasn’t going to like him, I didn’t want to, but I’m really going to like this kid. I thought to myself. He loves Chipotle…I LOVE Chipotle. How could I now not like him?
We picked up some Chipotle and headed over to DU and before Trae could even get two bites in, he quickly became engaged in current game going on, watching, analyzing, sizing up the competition, and getting in warm up shots when the game transitioned to the opposite end of the court.
I was impressed.
Okay, I like him…
After a few games and Trae getting used to the altitude, we headed home to chill a little bit before his next workout. Trae and Nick were talking in the car and he was feeling a little more comfortable around us so finally I couldn’t control myself and just blurted it out loud. Above the music and interrupting their conversation...
“WHY DIDN’T YOU PICK KANSAS???”🤔
I needed my answers. I had to know, and real answers the political answers we get on twitter notepad screenshots. You feel me? A girl's heart was broken!!!
They both laughed, Nick historically and quickly as Trae began talking I turned down the music and took mental notes.
Sorry to report what was said in the car during that conversation between the three of us, stays between the three us. Just so I can leave you wondering and be dramatic like there was some kind of big draw out response. You’ll never know😉.
Hearing how passionate he was about playing for his home state was all it took for him to earn my respect. You could tell how much it mean't to him growing up in Norman, being a Sooner, and representing OU.
The rest of the week consisted of 2-3 workouts a day with a lot of laughs in between.
One workout in particular I was filming and Nick had Josh Perkins (Gonzaga), Eric Garcia (Wofford), Drick Bernstine (Washington State), Jimmer Ferdette (BYU and former National Player of The Year), and Trae. For two solid hours they went through drills and played one on one giving each other buckets going at it hard. Trae more than held his own against older, stronger, more experienced players and gained each of their respect.
The day before Trae was supposed to head from Denver to California he lost his wallet😂. We were on our way to gym for a morning workout when he realized he couldn’t find his wallet. He thought he left it at 24 Hour Fitness from the night before around 11:30 pm when Nick put Trae through a shooting workout. We went back to the gym, and no luck, the wallet was still missing. After the gym we stopped at 7-11 for snacks at about 12:30 am. We didn’t have time to stop, so I tired calling and still no luck.
A couple of hours later we got back to the apartment and tore apart the living room looking for his wallet. Under the couch and pillows, through all of his luggage, and still no luck. Finally I suggested he look in the pocket of his pants he had on the day before, but of course he assured me he already looked there. He called his dad on the phone in a slight panic before coming back inside to find his wallet was exactly where I told him to look. In the pocket of his pants he had on the day before.
Nick and I laughed so hard and roasted him for it the rest of the day, I wish you all could of seen the look of terror on his face searching frantically for his wallet all over Denver and in our living room for four hours, it was great 😂😂😂.
Another night we all went over to Josh Perkins’ house for dinner. He’s mom cooked some amazing Mexican food, including some of the best enchiladas I’ve ever had. They were so good. Trae sat across from me me playing with his fidget spinner thingy (such a cool kid right?), with nothing on his plate but tortilla chips. I was trying so hard not to laugh, but apparently he didn’t even like salsa or guac, it was hilarious. He's the most picky eater I have ever met, worse than me which is saying a lot for someone who doesn't like her food touching.
It was probably close to midnight on the way home, so we stopped at Wal-Mart and picked up a DiGornio pepperoni pizza I made for the picky eater. While he was eating, he explained all of the foods and combinations he doesn't like. He loves pasta, without sauce, and the list went on and on naming off all types of foods he doesn’t like.
The nights were pretty chill too. Trae said he loves movies so every night watched movies until we all fell asleep. Nick and Trae also watched A LOT of film of NBA games, possession after possession breaking the down the game from the point guard spot. Trae was so focused and locked in I should’ve know right then and there this guy was different and wise beyond his years. But then again this 18-year-old who literally just graduated from high school was here in Denver working out during his last free weeks of being kid before starting summer school and college basketball workouts. Yeah, just let that sink in...
I’m gonna miss this kid…
Throughout the week I continued to talk trash to Trae about KU and OU. But he just responded by bragging about his future teammates, coaches, how good they were going to be, how they were going to win the league and make it back to the NCAA tournament. His confidence was crazy and I loved it. I even told him he was slowly turning me into an OU fan (don't get too excited people...) and I couldn’t wait to cheer for him every game not🙅 against KU. He liked my loyalty to my team, and agreed that was cool.
When it was time for Trae to head to California, I didn’t want to see him go. It was cool having a little brother I could pick on for a few days. When he left Nick and I were both so high on his game, but even more so who he was as a person, we both knew he was going to be something special. He gave a lot of credit and praise to his family constantly talking about the close bond he has with his dad, but also cherishing the love of his mother and the support of his younger siblings. He was all about his family, which is something I continue to have a great deal of respect for.
At Big 12 Media Day in October I thought for sure by now this soon to be college basketball star would’ve forgotten all about me, my brother, and staying with us during the summer. I remember Nick asking me days before if I was excited to see Trae again.
“Uh no not really, he probably won’t even remember me. I’m sure he’ll be cool Trae freshman at OU now and forget all about me.”
“No he won’t, he’ll remember you.” Nick laughed.
But to my surprise we picked up right were we left off talking trash and joking with each other. He could’ve easily written me off like the irrelevant person I was at this point in time. But instead, he treated me with so much respect and love, it was such a cool feeling.
I spent the entire day documenting his day as a freshman at Media Day and when the camera was off we laughed about the summer, and talked about basketball.
I remember asking him if he was going to be able to get his points like he did in high school. I'll never forget he looked at me so crazy and confidently said,
“Brittany, are you serious? I got this, just watch...”
He was right.
Mid-way through Trae’s record breaking freshman year I remember calling Nick, who now works at Iowa State with their men’s basketball team. We were reminiscing on our time with Trae last summer when I asked him, “Did you think he would be leading the country in scoring...AND assists?”😳
Without even giving him a chance to reply I quickly went on.
“I did, he's earned this moment. Trae AND his family have been preparing for this his entire life. He’s worked so hard and sacrificed everything for for it.”
“I know, he deserves it. I’m not surprised either, I'm so happy for him." Nick finally replied.
Throughout the season I watched every one of Trae’s game, every one. The 43 point game against Oregon, the 22 assist game against Northwestern State, the 48 point game in a loss at Oklahoma State, and the following game at home against Kansas💔. I drove 3.5 hours at the last minute to be there, but it was totally a college basketball bucket list to see Trae Young in a home game against Kansas am I right? Besides at this point I knew there were going to be limited opportunities to this kid play at LNC so it was no brainer I had to make the trip. However for personal reasons we will not discuss the outcome of this game.
It's been less than a year since Trae made his way to Denver for the start of his remarkable journey, and last week he declared for the NBA. This same kid that lost his wallet, slept on our couch and stayed up late watching movies with us is a future NBA lottery pick. It's crazy to even process everything that has happened in less than a year.
I feel like people on the outside this year have tried to tare him apart judging him based off social media or what the media has made him out to be. I don’t have this super close relationship with Trae or his family. Other than the week we spent together in Denver last summer and few good game snaps and messages during the season that’s about as far as our relationship goes. But, unlike so many of other people, after spending an entire week with Trae, I got to know who he is beyond the thousands of followers and what the media makes him out to be as a basketball player. But simply Trae Young as a person.
It’s been so surreal for Nick and I to both see his story unfold and be there from the beginning. To the world he may be THE Trae Young, but to us he will always be little Trae who lost his wallet who ate nothing but tortilla chips at Josh Perkins’ house.
We love you Trae❤️️ and for me not just because you also like Chipotle, that's just a big added bonus🙌