This episode is the first of a two-part series featuring Jesse Chuku, online content creator and former professional basketball player, with degrees in psychology and design.
Who is Jesse Chuku?
Jesse describes himself as first and foremost an athlete – he has played basketball for most of his life and has played professionally. Jesse also explains that he is a creative person,
although he didn’t always choose to show that side of himself as much. However, since the pandemic, he has gained much popularity for his creative content online.
Why did he go to university in America?
Jesse explains that, from a very young age when he started playing basketball, it became his dream to go to America due to its association with basketball. He trained very hard to reach his goal and contacted many school coaches from America, and eventually, after one coach watched him play, he obtained a scholarship to study in America.
“I just kept that goal in mind” – Jesse
What made him study psychology and design?
In America, students take classes from a range of different subject areas before deciding what they actually want to pursue. Jesse found this very useful, as he didn’t know what he wanted to do academically. He explains that he also came out with a lot more knowledge than he would have if he chose one subject to study instead.
Jesse had the opportunity to study psychology, during which he realised that he has always had an interest in the way that people’s minds work and found his psychology classes very interesting. At the same time, he was taking a lot of graphic design classes which fulfilled his creative side.
“I’m putting those things together” – Jesse
He describes how his studies have benefitted him in his current work by seeing the interconnections between psychology and design. He states that having a background in both areas is very useful considering the way he comes up with ideas for engaging content, and also the visual and design element.
How did he get into basketball?
“I was one of the only kids that didn’t make the football team” – Jesse
Jesse explains that, after not making the football team, he began to think about what else he could do. Being very tall at a young age, people had already suggested basketball, so he
started bringing a basketball to school and practiced skills on his own. Eventually, he gained a lot of motivation from practicing so much and seeing his skills develop, and he decided that it was something that he wanted to pursue properly through joining a basketball team.
“A failure can be seen as a win” – Jesse
What is it like stepping away from basketball?
Throughout his basketball career, Jesse was dealing with a hip injury, so he couldn’t always fulfil his potential. When the pandemic hit and he started making content, it felt like it was something that he could commit to doing from his position. Jesse states that he isn’t completely shutting the door on basketball, but it isn’t his focus right now due to the amount of motivation and fulfilment he has from creating content. He explains that he has already learnt a lot of what he needed to from basketball, and applies it to everything that he does, but can’t envision learning much more from it.
“Sometimes you graduate from a class” – Jesse on leaving basketball
What has the transition been like?
“It’s hard when you have to shift your identity” – Jesse
Leaving basketball and starting a career in content creation is a daunting step, but Jesse expresses his gratitude for the support he’s received from his close friends and family. He
highlights the difficulty in transitioning from something that you have been associated with, and associated yourself with, for a long time. He explains that most of the courage has to come from within in order to push yourself out of your comfort zone and not be restricted by what others may think.
Listen to the full episode here.