Just moments before entering the basketball arena, Kevin O’Brien, Sante Fe transfer student and rising basketball star, says a silent prayer. After his moment of silence and gratitude, O’Brien walks through the gym doors and steps onto the court, tuning out the blasting music and the announcement that screams, “From Miami, Florida, Number 33, Kevin O’Brien.”
Although intimidating at first glance, O’Brien’s presence slowly gives way to a smile from anyone who interacts with the 6’9 prodigy. Aside from his mantra on court, O’Brien is simply a basketball player and student. He approaches his academics like any other with the highest regard, studying International Business with an interest in journalism.
O’Brien began his studies at Lynn and playing for the team this year as a transfer student from Santa Fe College. Playing for the first time in almost two years, O’Brien demonstrated everything and put it all on the court, finishing the season as one of the stronger shooters on this year’s team. Appearing in 21 games overall in one season, O’Brien averaged 139 rebounds, 13 steals and a total of 236 points.
“Kevin was brought in as a transfer student with three years to play, to make a big impact in our program right away,” said Jeff Price, head coach of the men’s basketball team. “And he has definitely done that. He’s a trail post player and shoots the ball really well from the perimeter. There is no question that he has become a deep threat from beyond the arch.”
Starting at the young age of five, O’Brien found his love for the game watching his favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and his two favorite players of all time, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. He admired their moves and ethic, applying what he saw to himself as a sprouting player. Playing through his younger years and into high school, O’Brien found inspiration from playing with others who challenged him, encouraging him to work harder and get better.
“Ralph Nin was a big guy from Columbus,” said O’Brien, recounting the names of the players from his youth that helped shape his ethic. “He helped me out a lot mentally and physically. He challenged me to be the best that I could be and he saw so much in me even when a lot of people didn’t.”
When on the court, Kevin is always looking to improve himself and to learn more about the game that he loves. The coaches of the men’s basketball team promote hard work and follow through on commitments. It is a form of athleticism and dedication that O’Brien and the entire team put forth throughout the season. The effort and the time that is needed to be a part of a successful team unit is showcased by all 13 players, O’Brien included.
“Kevin O’Brien works hard and puts the team first,” said Morgan Garrison, junior. “[He is] really one of the best teammates [ that I have] ever had;. No matter what, if one of us messes up, [O’Brien] is the first one off the bench, clapping for us and talking to us.”
Although the proclaimed “friendly giant” takes pride in his education and sport, O’Brien’s life revolves around his family, most importantly his mother. His mother, O’Brien says, is his backbone and strength. When asked who was responsible for his success, O’Brien pointed to those who have been there from the beginning.
“My mom and my family have always supported me,” said O’Brien. “My mom kept me at an even ground. There were times where I really thought I wouldn’t play again and she always kept me up. [She] always told me my time will come and encouraged me to pray.”
“It’s such a satisfying feeling when she comes to the games and I had a really good game,” he continued. “I look into the stands and I can see how proud she is. That is my reward for all the time that I’ve put in, just to see the smile on her face.”
O’Brien is revered by teammates and peers as the gentle giant who has helped shaped Lynn’s Basketball program into what it is today, on and off the court. Staying committed to his schoolwork and his teammates, O’Brien’s efforts are shown in everything that he does.
“I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “In the most imperfect game in the world.”