If I could write a list of names of people who were meant to come into my life, Bradley Braich would definitely be in the top five.
I met Bradley in 2018 at Robert Bateman Secondary School while covering high school basketball. At the time, my boyfriend and I worked together at BC Sports Hub, basically THE online source for high school sports. But mainly the one with that dreaded orange ball.
Side note: I used to play basketball in middle school and somehow sprained my finger every damn time I’d dribble down the court.
I, despite my extreme enthusiasm to prove my taller teammates wrong, was a terrible player. At three-foot-eight, the only time I felt like a star was when I could cheer on my friends from the bench.
At least I literally gave it a shot.
When I first interviewed Bradley, he was the captain of the Yale Lions men’s basketball team. He was shy, yet had a purposeful voice. His eyes were full of determination and in the next moment, a glimpse of uncertainty mixed with heartbreaking pain.
Bradley had attempted to take his own life just seven months before the day we met.
I remember internally gasping and fighting back tears during our interview. My heart sunk deep into my stomach and I even forgot my next question. All I could think about was how different life would have been if the pills Bradley swallowed took his life. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t even be writing this story.
The truth is, I think I met Bradley back then so he could save me now.
Life is all about divine timing, which is basically the belief that everything in your life happens at exactly the right moment. I used to think Bradley came into my life in order for me to tell a story of a courageous high school athlete who wanted to spread awareness about mental health, specifically when it comes to athletes, by creating the Bigger than Basketball tournament. Which is an unbelievably selfless thing to do, by the way.
But I’m almost certain I met Bradley to get me through some of my dark days, too.
Let’s fast-forward to 2020. I was attending sports broadcasting school in Toronto and my professor announced our next assignment early into the new year: a story pitch to the head honcho over at CBC Sports. I immediately thought of Bradley Braich. His story stuck with me over the years, probably because I suffer from anxiety and depression, too.
Bradley agreed to the interview and courageously told me his story again. This time in an audio interview edited specifically for radio. I handed my file in on March 4th, 2020 and then our program had a two-week reading break, which we never returned from due to the coronavirus pandemic. I really thought my teacher would applaud Bradley’s perseverance in life and maybe the audio file would go to air on CBC Sports radio.
Sadly, I never went back to the school and I have no idea what grade I even received on that assignment. We went into lockdown and I eventually moved back west to downtown Vancouver to be closer to my family. My whole life — along with I’m sure many others — was flipped upside down. The rug had been pulled out from underneath me and I was about to crumble to the cold hardwood floor.
Then, a little silver glow appeared around the dark clouds hovering over me and I began a new journey with ethno. sports. I had been hired as a freelance writer for the sub-brand of ethno. branded original content. My bosses urged me to find a unique story in the community that goes beyond just the box score for my debut piece.
Luckily for me, I knew the perfect guy.
I met Bradley, again, on a chilly day in November at Coopers’ Park in Vancouver. He wore a pink hoodie with matching Vans. Even though he had on a face mask, I could still see his genuine smile.
We debated about LeBron and MJ. And we took a few shots from half court. Bradley sniped it; I completely air-balled.
When we sat down for our interview, I remember looking into his eyes. He opened up to me about his pain and his OCD. Bradley thanked his incredible support system and made a point to reiterate how much his family meant to him, too. And of course, he lit up when I asked him about the Bigger than Basketball tournament, something Bradley says he will continue to grow in the future when sports and normalcy can finally co-exist again.
Secretly, an hour before the video crew and I met with Bradley, I had contemplated bailing on the whole production. My self-doubt made it almost impossible to leave my condo. In that moment, I was scared to fail at something new. So, I slammed a coffee and got over it…eventually. And thankfully, during my conversation with Bradley, it all just seemed to click.
I mentioned that whole divine timing thing before and apparently the universe had placed Bradley in my life to give me the boost I needed in that moment.
As we sat in Coopers’ Park, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of a peace. There were kids laughing on the swings behind us, a group of dudes playing pick-up ball on the concrete, and a few boats cruising by under the Cambie Street Bridge. Life was living out loud in vibrant colours all around us.
I looked into Bradley eyes.
“If you could go back and speak to yourself on that day in October, what would you say to yourself?” I asked, unaware of the powerful message he was about to share.
He thought for a moment, and then he calmly replied as if he was truly speaking directly to his younger self:
“This pain that you’re feeling, it has to go away. Yes, you may struggle and you may hurt for weeks, months, but eventually you’re gonna get to that other side. No matter how hard it hurts, no matter how bad the struggle is, no matter how much you feel like you can’t go on…you just have to hold on.”
Just hold on, I still replay it my head whenever I need a little reminder.
You ever see the same number in every day life, as if the world is trying to tell you some top-secret code to crack the key to happiness? Well, hearing those three little words kind of felt like that to me.
And now, that same phrase has been tattooed on my soul forever.
Some people come into our lives for an undeniable purpose. I think Bradley came into mine to save me. And maybe, just maybe, his words will save someone else’s life, too.