CRESTVIEW — Former Laurel Hill School basketball player Brad Reese will soon welcome his second child, which puts his professional basketball career in perspective.
The 6-foot-7-inch Reese, who now calls west Texas home during the basketball off-season, is in his third year of playing professional basketball in Europe. This year, he's a member of the Lapua, Finland team.
"Having a child is a great experience and another challenge for me," he said. "I just have to be there and be the best father I can be."
Reese was back home in Okaloosa County last week visiting his family as he recovers from a torn meniscus in his knee. He said his rehab is right on track to be back on the court in the next few weeks.
"It could have been worse," he said. "It could have been a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but I'm just trying to rehab and get back on the court. I miss the game dearly and I'm just trying to do all the right things the trainer says to me to get back."
Reese, who led the Hoboes to the 2006 Class 1A Final Four as a senior, was one of Lapua's top scorers before his injury.
"I played like 13 games and was averaging 19 points a game," he said. "I was playing really well. You hate for it to happen, but that's life, and I just want to get back to playing good ball like I did before.
"Hopefully I can return by the end of the season. If not, I'll just get ready for next season and go back in August. The ultimate goal is to get back as soon as possible, but I'll be ready for next season."
Having never suffered a serious injury before, the rehab routine has given Reese another look at life and the game he loves.
"The hardest thing is just dealing with it (the injury) and being out of basketball and just watching," he said. "You don't know what to do because all you know is basketball, so that's been my hardest thing."
If Reese starts to feel sorry for himself, all he has to do is look to his brother, Jeff, who had a career-ending heart attack while playing college basketball for Arkansas Tech last February.
"It's tough because I know he loves to play basketball like I do," Reese said. "For him, not to be able to play the game because of heart problems is tough ... and the family, too, because that's all he's been doing since he was a little kid. For me, it's tough to see him like this without basketball.
"I just told him that life is bigger than basketball. You are going to have to be a father to your kids and all that. Stuff is going to come along and you have to try and make the most of your life that you have now because tomorrow is not promised, so keep living like today is the day."
While at home, Reese caught up with some of his former Laurel Hill teachers. He also spent time with his sister, Grace, an eighth-grader on the Laurel Hill girls basketball team, who might just be the next Reese to make a name for herself.
"We are always talking," he said. " I wish I could be here more to try and help her out every day like I should. I just tell her to keep working.
"She has a chance to get better and be one of the better girls in the state. She already has the height (6-foot-3) and all she has to do is work on the fundamentals. I think when she gets better offensively and starts to score, she'll be really good."
Basketball has taken Reese far from Laurel Hill's rolling hills and knobby pines, exposing him to a world he once only dreamed of. In three years of playing ball in Europe, he has played for teams in Spain, the Czech Republic and now Finland.
Ultimately, he would like to play in the National Basketball Association. But if that never happens, he has no problem playing in Europe his entire career.
"My childhood dream is to play in the NBA and I'm going to chase it until I can't chase it no more," he said. "I really believe that if the right shot comes along, I'll get a chance. If not, I'll stay in Europe the rest of my career.
"Either way I think it will be good. You can't complain because you are still doing what you love for a living, and I get to see a part of the world I never thought I'd see."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.