Elite athletes dish on the moment in their sports careers their most thankful for

Elite athletes dish on the moment in their sports careers their most thankful for

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Elite athletes dish on the moment in their sports careers their most thankful for

Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) linebacker Palaie Gaoteote once burst through the offensive so quickly that he met the running back in the backfield just as he received the ball and unleashed a smack down of a hit on him so brutal and harsh that it gave Gaoteote goosebumps as he walked back to the huddle amidst the roars of the capacity crowd and his teammates.

“I just leveled the kid,” Gaoteote said. “It was such a rush.”

Makes sense that the defining moment Gaoteote, the No. 1 linebacker in the 247 Sports Composite, is most thankful for is overcoming the fear of hitting back in the seventh grade.

Wait, what?

“I was so scared of hitting and just the physical part of the game when I first started,” said Gaoteote, a Southern Cal commit. “My dad helped me overcome that and here I am.”

With just a day left before Thanksgiving we caught up with Gaoteote and other elite high school football and basketball players and had them reveal which moment in their sports careers they’re most thankful to have experienced.

Palaie Gaoteote (Photo: Isaiah Hole, 247Sports)

Palaie Gaoteote, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), LB, 2018

College: Southern Cal

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “When my dad strapped up with me and made me get over being scared to hit people. I’m serious, I was really scared to hit back in the seventh grade when I first started hitting. My dad wasn’t having that so he put on pads and a helmet and did hitting drills with me. He knocked me down a bunch of times then I got tired of that and hit him hard one good time. He was like, ‘Good job!’ I actually loved the feeling that I got in that moment and from that point on it was over. My teammates were in trouble that next day in practice. I haven’t stopped hitting people since.”

Christian Tutt, Thomson (Ga.), CB, 2018

College: Auburn

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Going to Georgia’s team camp during the summer headed into my freshman year. No one knew me and I went there and just really did my thing. They ended up offering me and that started everything. Obviously I didn’t end up picking them, but I still appreciate them believing in me from the beginning.”

Brian Williams, Bishop Dunne (Dallas), S, 2019

College: Undecided

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Every single one-on-one rep I ever did against Reggie Roberson when we were at Dunne together and even when he made visits back. As a freshman trying to cover him it was extremely difficult, but that and Coach Williams’ constant critiques pushed me to the position I’m at right now.”

Zion Harmon, Adair County (Bowling Green, Ky.), PG, 2021

College: Undecided

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “My first second grade AAU Nationals. I was playing with D.C. Assault, I remember everyone who was on that team; my head coach was Coach Cole. We lost in the Final 4 to a team out of North Carolina called Havoc. I always played and did everything 120 percent because I do it for the glory of my Lord first and not man, but that loss was one of the first major losses that really made me just push harder and I am thankful for that.”

Armado Bacot, Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, Va.), F, 2019

College: Undecided

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “I would probably say going to Team Loaded (Va.) because I learned a lot from my head coach Michael Blackwell. He just taught me a lot about preparing for college.”

Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Winder-Barrow (Ga.), F, 2018

College: Connecticut

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Playing with USA basketball and representing my country. The opportunity to play at a national level opened my eyes to the many possibilities that basketball can offer for me and the involvement in USA basketball was an unforgettable experience. I’m very thankful for the coaches who have invested in preparing me to compete on a national level. ‘

Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook (Ala.), F, 2019

College: Undecided

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Losing in the semifinal game of the Northeast Regional Tournament to Gadsden City last year. Losing out on a chance to compete for a state championship freshman year propelled me. Also, my love for Jesus and my family. Can’t began to explain what it has meant having an older brother (Christian Watford), who has already gone through the entire process guiding and mentoring me. Experiencing all the moments watching him play at IU and having the opportunity to be on a college court working out with some of he and his teammates. There’s no greater feeling than knowing that your family has your back through any and all, good or bad. I’m so blessed!”

Tre Jones is the No. 1 PG in the country.

Tre Jones, Apple Valley (Minn.), PG, 2018

College: Duke

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “When I went out to my first USA Basketball tryouts and made the team. I had not been ranked or talked about in rankings at all. I went out to tryouts with the top guys in the class of 2017 and 2018 and beat out a bunch of guards for a spot on the U16 team. I played very solid and made a name for myself and that’s what started my rise.”

Devon Dotson, Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.), PG, 2018

College: Kansas

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “The day I committed and signed. On that day, everything just hit me and I knew all the hard work I put in was definitely worth it. My parents not having to pay a dime for college is a blessing. I’m just thankful that I received that opportunity.”

Louis King, Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.), F, 2018

College: Oregon

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Just when people used to tell me that I would never be anything. I used that as motivation and pushed myself to the limit.”

Immanuel Quickley, John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.), PG, 2018

College: Kentucky

The defining moment in my sports career I’m most thankful for is… “Sophomore season championship game; I made the game winning three to win 51-50 in the BCL Catholic Championship. I am thankful to have experienced this because we had just lost on a game-winning tip-in my freshman year. So to get that bitter taste out of our mouths was good. I think my coming out party was when I made the USA Basketball U17 team. I think that proved to everyone else and even myself that I was good enough to play on a national level.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

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