DAVIS, Calif. - Since graduating last spring, former UC Davis basketball standout Brynton Lemar officially became a professional basketball player when he signed a contract with SLUC Nancy, an organization based in Nancy, France.
And while the game remains familiar to Lemar since there are only a few minor differences between the rules used in America versus abroad, his transition from life as a student at UC Davis to one as a professional athlete (let alone one competing in a foreign country) has been filled with unique situations and adventures.
These moments and experiences were shared by Lemar in a recent column for the Davis Enterprise.
Bonjour, Davis! I’ve missed you
By: Brynton Lemar
Well, I’m back. Not literally, but figuratively.
I’m in France playing professional basketball, but I’ll be sharing a few diaries about my experience playing basketball in Europe. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write again for The Enterprise and can’t wait to talk about the next chapter in my life.
Graduating from one of the best universities on the planet was incredible, but playing professional basketball has been my life’s ambition since I was a kid.
And to experience the world at the same time? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Even though basketball has turned into an occupation, it remains my passion.
Since Aug. 6, I’ve been living in the beautiful city of Nancy. To those who aren’t familiar with France, it’s about four hours southeast of Paris. Known for its baroque landmarks and modern-art contributions, Nancy is the former capital of the Duchy of Lorraine.
The buildings and statues are a sight to see. I kid you not, it feels like I’m living in a movie.
I’m playing for a team called Sluc Nancy, which is the premier team here in the region.
It was difficult to leave my UCD teammates (what a run we had!), but I’ve found a great group guys here; new friends who I really enjoy being around. It’s important to surround yourself with people you can trust, especially coming out of college, entering a new world — a 22-year-old rookie who has never been to Europe, living alone.
This first month in France has been a total culture shock.
I don’t know a lick of French so you can only imagine how long it takes me to find simple groceries at the local supermarket. On my first shopping trip, it took me an hour to find 10 things at the store. I thought I was losing my mind.
I have so many funny/embarrassing stories to share. One happened when I got to the city of Nancy.
I was greeted by fans and coaches, but I wasn’t used to the way the French greet people. In America, we are accustomed to shaking hands and saying hello.
But this one particular man was very excited to meet me and he got close to me and tried to kiss me on the cheek! I immediately pushed him away. But I quickly realized that the custom is to kiss both cheeks as a friendly greeting.
Feeling terrible, I was relieved that he forgave me — but most importantly, he taught me the proper way to greet French people. I was embarrassed, but it was a learning experience.
I’m slowly learning different French customs and navigating my way around Nancy. I am also learning new words every single day and tackling different tasks.
To be honest, I was slightly scared but more so eager to live in France. But falling back on my faith, God has put me in a position to do something great and represent my family, city and the Davis community in a positive way.
And that is what I intend to do.
I was on Instagram one night and stumbled across a quote that stuck with me: “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a hello.”
My time in Davis will always be precious, but I’ve already realized it was time to move on, chase new goals. Whoever is reading this, at whatever age, should realize that we are constantly growing as people.
As cliché as that sounds, each day is a new day, a new opportunity to work toward making your life the way you want it. Through the ups and downs, we must continue to be positive.
As I said earlier, I can’t wait to share more experiences with you. Stay tuned for the next chapter of Brynton Takes France. I’ll have more on- and off-the-court tales to tell.
Je vous remercie. And stay smiling, Davis.