The power of love

Published 9:51 pm Monday, June 17, 2013

Former Washington star Cor-J Cox spent the winter playing pro basketball in Austria for the Furstenfeld Panthers.

Former Washington star Cor-J Cox (12) spent the winter playing pro basketball in Austria for the Furstenfeld Panthers.

Love. A simple word, yet so complex. Just grouping of four little letters, yet it serves as the foundation of our society and the driving force of all of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Whether it be for the love of money, fame, adventure, family or humanity, it’s always the motive.
Love can be cruel. It comes with no guarantees. You can love something with all your heart and there is no promise that the object of your desire will love you back. Yet, how will you know if you don’t pursue it?
It’s with that question in mind that Washington native Cor-J Cox found himself in Austria this winter wearing a Furstenfeld Panthers jersey, eating chicken schnitzel and learning small German phrases.
Cor-J Cox’s love is basketball. He’s known it since he since he was old enough to say Michael Jordan and since then he’s been chasing it around the globe with the same passion Pepe Le Pew followed Penelope with.
“It’s just in my blood, it’s in my heart,” Cox said. “I knew from a young age that this is something I wanted to do. It’s a dream that I believe in. It’s my goal.”
The dream of playing pro basketball was almost grounded before it got off the runway. In 2008 Cox wrapped up his senior season at Washington High as a raw 6’5” above average high school small forward.
Though his athleticism was off the charts, the offers didn’t exactly come pouring in.
However, Cox was not ready to file for a divorce. Instead, he took his lanky frame and love for hoops to Chicago to play basketball at Olney Central Junior College, clinging to the hopes that the small school would put him on a path to a bigger program.
The things we do for love.
With Washington in his rearview mirror, Cox soldiered on to the home of Soldier Field and after a season with the Blue Knights he received an offer to be Delta Devil.
What better place for an under-the-radar athlete than Mississippi Valley State, a school whose most famous alum, Jerry Rice, was the ultimate rags-to-riches story.
“I was excited. Playing Division I basketball was another goal come true,” Cox said.
Cox cracked the rotation during his first two years with the Devils, but by his senior season the raw 6-5, 190-pound forward had cooked into 6-5, 205-pound dunking machine with a 42-inch vertical. His playing time jumped from 10 minutes per game his junior year to nearly 27 minutes per contest as he averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds a night.
In his final year at Mississippi Valley Cox helped his team win the Southwest Athletic Conference regular season crown and reach the NCAA tournament where the Devils took on Western Kentucky in front of President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Dave Cameron in a nationally televised game.
Though they lost the contest in heartbreaking fashion, Cox ended the year earning all-SWAC first-team honors while being named the conference tournament MVP.
What better time to hang up your Nikes, grab your college degree and graduate into the real world. Except Cox couldn’t figure out a way to walk away from his love.
“Basketball is not done yet. It’s not over,” Cox said last year after playing in his final game as a Delta Devil. “I’m just staying humble and waiting for my moment where I can showcase my talent again and get to play on the next level. … I’m going to make it. I’ve always said it and so far everything I’ve said has come true. It’s not over with.”
It didn’t take long for Cox to get a chance to put him self on display. Upon graduation he hired an agent and in September the high-flying hoops star received a tryout. The only catch was he that he was going to have to travel roughly 4,500 miles to do so.
The things we do for love.
“I was excited,” Cox said. “It was my first time overseas and I wanted to take that opportunity and make the most of it.”
After a 10-plus hour flight Cox arrived in Hungary looking for love, but he would not find any there. However, he had a chance encounter that left him smitten.
“I went to Hungary for the tryout. They were looking for a specific position and while I was there I got cut, but another job came up,” Cox said. “My agent had a friend in Austria who had a team that was looking for someone who played my position. I was very excited. … I was very determined and prepared for anything. I just went and gave it my all.”
With that, Cox became the starting small forward for the Furstenfeld Panthers and a pro basketball player.
“I just went back to my crib and prayed to God and told my family that I made it,” Cox said.
Outside the court, Cox’s transition was smoothed by the locals’ ability to speak English coupled with his increasing ability to speak some German small talk. However, the seven-hour time difference proved to be a much tougher adjustment.
On the court, like love, the language of basketball is universal and Cox spoke it fluently, averaging 12 points, six rebounds and two assists per game as the Panthers made it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
“The style of play was a lot of pick-and-rolls but during the season our big man was gone so we started playing a lot more fast-paced,” Cox said. “It was great. The level of competition was good. … I felt good about the season but there’s always room for improvement.”
Being away from his family was tough, especially having to leave behind his two-year old daughter Cor’Naysia, but Cox kept a positive attitude and fearlessly went forward.
“I went there with a strong mindset knowing that everything was going to be alright,” Cox said. “Being on your own, especially overseas, you have to be mentally strong. I always talked to God and stayed strong and talked to my family on Skype so I was able to see my daughter, my parents and my grandparents. I knew what I had to do there and I just stayed focused.”
Cox enjoyed his season with the Panthers and even took part in the league’s dunk competition and placed third. However, at the end of the season there was a front office shakeup that forced Cox to part ways with the Panthers.
“I signed a one-year contract and was hoping to go back again but things happened with the management and the money got low,” Cox said. “So now I’m open to new teams. … There’s been a couple of teams that I have received some interest from but I have to think all my options through.”
He’s been here before. A lot. Once again Cox and his hoops career stand squarely at a crossroads with no navigation unit to guide him. So what will he do? The same thing he has always done: follow his heart.
“When it comes to proving yourself you just have to go out there and give it all you got,” Cox said. “There’s going to be that one person that sees potential in you and gives you a chance. You never know who that one person is going to be, but if you go out there and do what you love to do anything is possible. Right now I’m just working out and I’ll let God lead the way.”