US basketball player Breana Bey will be playing for Cork-based Brunnell and chats to Oisin Langan
There’s a phrase in the field of sports psychology that the "rocky road leads to the top" - the theory being that if you have overcome tough times or obstacles along the way, you’re a better athlete, and more importantly, a better person for it.
This is certainly true of Breana Bey who, just three years after she was shot, starts a new adventure with Cork based Super league side Brunnell.
Although softly spoken, there’s no mistaking the focus and drive that defines top athletes and Bey is no exception. She speaks of her love of a sport she’s excelled at and how playing professional basketball is something she’s always wanted do.
"I always wanted to come to Ireland," says Bey who’s looking forward to getting into the league season as well as her coaching duties.
Being shot is a big deal (statement of the obvious award on the way to me I know!). You wouldn't think it was talking to Bey though, who brushes it off like any other injury dropping it in during casual conversation. Bey, who majored in Digital Arts, acknowledges she grew up in a tough place but when we bring up the shooting she doesn’t change tone or emphasize it when comparing it to other injuries .
Bey explains: "Before I got shot I broke my ankle and I had to get a plate and two screws and then after that I got shot in my foot. It was three days before I went back to school so I was out for whole week and then I just got back up and continued to play."
Needless to say our response was something along the lines of "HOLD ON YOU GOT SHOT AND WERE BACK A WEEK LATER!" Her quick and impressive return ended as soon as it started with the news that no athlete wants to hear coming from her doctor. Again, when talking about it Bey’s manner, and ability to normalise the abnormal is palpable, "l’m here now!" No big deal playball.
The result of the incident could have been far worse though, with a bullet whizzing just past her head, in the random attack perpetrated by two hooded attackers who opened fire on those around the vicinity of the store they were robbing.
"They just started shooting everyone in the area… two (bullets) missed my head. I felt that I got shot but I didn’t know once I sat down. I took off my shoe and there was blood dripping out."
The incident motivated Bey to get out of the disadvantaged area she lived in and be the best she could be at the sports she always loved.
"No matter what the situation basketball clears your head," is her mantra. With such an amazing story you might forget that Brunnell’s latest recruit is here to play and here to win. "I’ve been winning Championships since I was little so it’s always good to win another Championship on another level".
Bey laughs when we ask her how she’s adapting to understanding the Cork accent and her new home. She seems at ease in the new surroundings she has told us she was eager to reach. Through her coaching work she will immerse herself in Ireland, no doubt getting used to Irishisms.
Just one looks at Brenea Bey’s record tells you what a talent Brunnell have landed. Every coach she’s ever worked with has nothing but good things to say about her as an athlete and more importantly as a person. What happened in Bey’s past may be the focus of the conversation we had on induction day at the National Basketball Arena but it’s the potential for what she can deliver on the court this season that excites us as we leave.