It's difficult to know where to start with Tyler. It seems that the start was also the end for him, a short-lived basketball career at Georgetown.
His story, thanks to a memorable Senior Day start, has been rightfully told: The highly touted recruit from Mississippi initially committed to Duke before changing his mind and pledging to JT3 and his staff. A heart ailment cut short his freshman year, and ultimately his basketball career. Instead of (literally or figuratively) withdrawing himself from the team, Adams rededicated himself to Georgetown. Adams became every bit as impactful as the other graduating seniors, serving as another coach on the bench and as a mentor and inspiration to his teammates. He was the ultimate team player on a team he never played for.
In his final game before Senior Day - early on in his freshman year - Adams tallied 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and an assist in 11 minutes of game time during a blowout 84-44 win over NJIT. Needless to say, Adams showed incredible promise on the floor. I remember this game well. Georgetown ended the game with a lineup of Trawick, Bowen, Porter, Hopkins, and Adams to the endless chants at Verizon Center of, "Let's go freshmen!" Each of those freshmen took a very different path to get to where they are now, four years later. While four of those journeys took place on the court, Adams was kept out of the spotlight and in his suit on the bench.
It's unfortunate that we don't know more about his progression at Georgetown on a personal level - after all, there is very little basketball-related information to talk about. But it's important to remember that the same is true for all of our student-athletes: Most of what we have to say about them relates to their on-court performance, but most of a student-athlete's life happens down the road from Verizon Center at a truly special academic institution in West Georgetown. This is where many of us had some truly memorable experiences, too.
Here's what we do know: When Adams was eighteen-years-old, doctors took away one of the most important parts of his life. He could have transferred back home or removed himself from the team's activities altogether. But Adams endured and in a few short days will walk among his peers, the Class of 2015, and receive his diploma from Georgetown University.
Many student-athletes cite academics as a reason for making a college decision, but is difficult to know how sincere that commitment is until it is truly tested. For many, that test never comes. Adams was tested perhaps sooner than he was ready, but he showed impressive maturity in his decision to complete his degree.
Adams understood his limitations - as a 6'9" center, he had few NBA prospects - and understood what a Georgetown degree could do for him. He put his health first and took a different kind of risk by quitting the game he played since he was six.
Too often, at their detriment, student-athletes are lied to about their chances of playing professionally and develop unrealistic expectations and inflated egos along the way. Adams is a reminder to all of us to focus on what's important: Whenever we put on our "We are Georgetown" shirts and chant Hoya Saxa, we are cheering for our team to play well. But we're also taking part in something much bigger than college basketball. We're representing Georgetown.
It's something Tyler learned much sooner than many of us could hope to. And for that, he deserves our praise.