• Behind The Bench

Let it fly

By: Ali Warner | Engaged to Bryce Alford, Player for the Oklahoma City Blue

Bryce is a 3 point shooter, and sinks them from anywhere. No matter how far outside the arc he is. One time he told me  “I shoot better with a hand in my face” when I gave him a challenge and it always kind of stuck with me as it can be applied to so many parts of life outside basketball. Just because there's a challenge, it shouldn’t prevent you from taking the shot.

This is Bryce's 2nd pro season after he played for his dad at UCLA, and the 1st season that I have joined him here. Not yet engaged, leaving Scottsdale, a good job of 7 years, my friends & some family. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to be leaving my comfortable life in AZ. I shot the shot and thank goodness I did! Bryce was finishing training camp with the Thunder and transitioning back to the Blue, their G league affiliate, when I moved out here. It was the end of October and I was right on time for games & cold weather! I came with an open mind but it was difficult because unlike Bryce, I don’t share the same positive mentality all the time. I’m a planner and I find comfort in routine.  Fast forwarding, it’s been 5 months and I have had 3 different jobs here. It was hard to find opportunities because once they figured out I was here for basketball, they knew it wasn’t long term and understandably didn’t want to invest in me.  I was blowing money quickly while trying to find a solid job.  I was always wondering “What if he gets called up or moves to a different team? I just signed this lease.” *Hello, anxiety* I worried a lot about being supportive enough to him. The G League is a grind like none other and I wanted to make sure I was doing a good job at this!

In January, Bryce proposed and it was the best moment of my life! I hired a wedding planner as we’d be getting married in California, and 1 week later that didn’t work out. I had $4k less in the bank and a whole out of state wedding to plan...in 6 months. I was struggling with loneliness out here. THEN there were some health issues. It really felt like I was shooting shots that just wouldn’t ever make it in.

I finally realized that although there were challenges, I didn’t give up on anything I wanted to happen while here and it got better everyday.  I could do this in any new city or country and have zero fears or hesitations.  My faith has been deepened and I feel a stronger connection with God than I’ve ever felt before. I’m watching Bryce grow as he work towards his goal of making an NBA roster. And while I miss all my friends, I’ve made new ones through this organization that I’ll be keeping forever. My future kids will also get to hear the coolest stories of places we’ve seen, people we’ve met, & games we’ve watched.  How have I not completely air balled every shot yet?

1. God. The one thing that offers constant stability in our lives and always will. We make it a point to go to church around the game schedule and read daily devotionals together and individually. I send a verse to him before every game for a little extra encouragement and he does the same for me when he feels I need it. 2. My team. There’s’ no I in team. Bryce and I have each other’s backs no matter the circumstance and are able to find the light in all of the things we get to experience here. If there’s a challenge we take it head on together. We’ve also got the best family and friends out there- the real MVP’s- and they fully support us in all that we do. The whole Thunder organization is amazingly supportive of us also and I can’t thank them enough.   3. Enjoy the process.  No matter what season of life you may be in, what team or league you are a part of, be thankful for the opportunities and make the most out of them! You will be so happy that you did. 

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