Blazers’ Rodney Hood ‘enjoying every moment’ in midst of painful year

NBA

Inside the pain and death that has plagued Hood and his family in the past 12 months

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood reacts after making a three point basket against the Denver Nuggets during the fourth overtime of Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Friday, May 3, 2019, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

Portland, Ore. (KOIN) — Perspective.

It’s been something the year 2020 has offered many of us as we’ve seen our social lives, our jobs, and in some cases, our family or our health threatened.

Portland Trail Blazers swingman Rodney Hood has also been forced to gain some, as 2020 dealt him blow after blow.

“When it comes to basketball and what I’m dealing with with my injury and all that, it comes second nature,” Hood said in his first preseason availability. “When it comes to life or death and loved ones leaving and having to be there for your family, not just emotionally but financially or physically.”

“It’s been tough, it’s been tough all the way around.”

2020 feels like so much more than the year in time it describes. For many, “2020” has become a lowering of expectation. Something bad happens? It’s expected because, “2020.” Another beloved celebrity passes away? “It’s 2020.”

Hood’s ‘2020’ began late in 2019. He tore his Achilles just over a month into the season, the tear threatening to rip away the starting spot and home he’d found in Portland after years of being the classic ‘journeyman’ in the NBA.

That tear, just the beginning, of things that would be torn away from Hood and his family in the last 12 months.

“It’s been a chain of events.”

“I lost my AAU coach to cancer earlier this year and then I lost my nephew to gun violence,” Hood shared in Wednesday’s media availability.

“[His nephew] got shot six times over something petty. He’s from Alabama, and that’s somebody I used to babysit when I was younger.”

His wife, Richa, also lost her father in the last month or so.

“It’s been extremely hard on us as a family, but in particular her.”

Hood’s wife was his rock to lean on in the recovery from his own injury. He and Richa would take long drives to the Moda Center, his Blazers’ home court, to just talk about the mental side of his recovery. Now, Hood says, it’s his time to be her rock.

“Back then it was my time for my wife to be there for me and now it’s time for me to be there for her.”

At 28 years old, Hood hasn’t been forced to face tragedies like he has in this year before.

“I’m not a guy that dealt with a lot of death in my life,” Hood said. “So when it hits you it hits hard and you question different things, but at the same time it put things in perspective.”

Perspective that basketball, and his arduous recovery process, as big as it can be, is not life and death.

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Blazers guard Rodney Hood gestures during Game 6 of the playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers won 119-108. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

“It’s been tough all the way around,” Hood said. “But it’s part of life, part of life is dying and you just got to pick up where you left off.”

Hood’s ability to absorb every blow and still come out feeling appreciative is a lesson he’s learned from another member of his support system. His grandfather, who is terminally ill.”

“He never complains,” Hood said. “He has a lot of reason to complain and he never complains. I talk to him on the phone and he’s never talking about how tough it is, he’s always just going about it and he’s worried about other people.”

It’s a model Hood is implementing as he deals with his own struggles.

“If he’s not complaining then I have no reason to complain either.”

Hood draws strength from knowing this season, as tough as it is, is a part of life.

“I’ve got to be strong for my family, and for my kids and for everybody and it’s tough,” Hood admits. “That doesn’t mean it’s not tough but you just got to keep pushing on, that’s life and understanding that gives me strength.”

It’s all part of the bigger lesson this past year, in the midst of so much pain, so much death, so much uncertainty. Every moment is precious.

“I’ve learned that there’s more to life than basketball, but also, you’ve just got to be appreciative of everything you’ve got.”

“I’m just appreciative. I think that’s the biggest thing that I take away from this process that I’ll always have with me.”

“Love while you can, be there for your family while you can and hopefully you live long and healthy but if not, you just enjoy the little moments.”

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