Black History Today: Brayon Blake, a reflection of present greatness

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


“Greatness is defined by how much you want to put into what you do.”
-LeBron James

As parents, mentors and educators, I believe one of the mistakes we unconsciously make is speaking into our young people the best version of their future selves (which is admirable) instead of highlighting the present greatness that we see. Young people need adults to look up to, yet maybe more importantly, they need peers to look to — peers who reflect back their own present greatness.

Brayon “BJ” Blake exemplifies that present greatness. A Seattle native, Brayon graduated from Garfield High School (proving anyone can overcome great odds!), where he was a staple on the 2014 3A State Basketball Championship team. Brayon then took a sordid road through a couple of colleges in California and Northern Arizona before settling into a home at the University of Idaho.

Upon completing his college career with a B.A. in Business, Brayon competed in the NBA Summer League with the Cleveland Cavaliers before signing a contract to play in Germany with Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. As often is the case, though, those resume accolades do not tell the whole story of a young person raised by a loving single mother and extended family network (Grandmother, uncle, aunts) who poured love an support into him.

Of course, Brayon also had to begin to define himself for himself. To meet him is to be immediately energized by his personality, work ethic and heart. When you speak to him you feel like you’ve just met your best friend for the first time. His desire to be great so that he can be more for others is inspiring, and you will not find many people who work harder at chasing their dreams.

Rocky Balboa stood in front of a mirror with Adonis Creed, his chosen nephew, and said, “See this guy here? That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face. I believe that’s true in the ring and I believe that’s true in life.” At such a young age, no one is more willing to look into that mirror and face that opponent. Typically people just see the success and not the struggle, yet one of Brayon’s greatest tests would be in his mind.

During his junior year of college, Brayon was challenged by a health diagnosis — one discovered by his quest to grow and find answers in himself. Like other athletes, such as Brandon Marshall and Kevin Love, Brayon embraced the challenge.  In a day and age when young African-American men with status and opportunity sometimes shun those types of challenges, Brayon took it head on with support from his family and embraced it with the same work ethic he attacks the rim with.

The courage it takes to not only defy stigmas — Black, male, single-parent home — but to transcend the stigmas and become a college graduate and professional basketball player who embraces and openly challenges stereotypes is powerful. Brayon’s quest for more for himself and for others goes beyond his 6’7” frame. His endless energy and heart for others make him wise beyond his years. Those reasons and many more are why Brayon Blake is Black History, today!


For an absolute barrage of information on Brayon Blake from a genuine German hoops fan: “The Cinderella Story For Brayon Blake Continues As He Looks To Rise As A Professional