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Basketball player travels from Georgia to play at El Camino

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Da'koda Lacey, 20, film major standing at 6 feet is an L.A. transplant from Georgia, who aspires to use what he learns in EC to propel his career in digital media.

Da'koda Lacey, 20, film major standing at 6 feet is an L.A. transplant from Georgia, who aspires to use what he learns in EC to propel his career in digital media.

Da'koda Lacey, 20, film major standing at 6 feet is an L.A. transplant from Georgia, who aspires to use what he learns in EC to propel his career in digital media.

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Hair tied up and ready to go, his green sneakers start to squeak on the gym floor and begins his fast break. He crosses the defender to the right and drives to the basket for the slam.

Da’Koda Lacey picks up the ball and dribbles it miles away from home, avoiding every opponent in his way manifesting his moment to play on the West Coast.

Lacey is from Marietta, Georgia, where he experienced gang violence and drug-related crimes.

Despite his life experiences, the support of his family and friends allowed him to step out of his comfort zone to seek a better lifestyle.

“I just had to separate myself to give myself the best opportunity,” Lacey said.

The 20 year old is a sophomore who plays the forward position for the men’s basketball team at El Camino College.

In 2015, during his last few months of high school Lacey uploaded on YouTube a highlight video of him playing basketball. Lacey sent out emails to coaches from different colleges. EC’s basketball coach Robert Uphoff received an email from a recruiting website called Field Level that contained Lacey’s bio and contact information.

Uphoff sent Lacey an email asking him if he was interested in attending and play for EC. Lacey visited the campus over the summer of 2015 and moved to California on his own.

“He’s very athletic,” Uphoff said. “He’s long and can impact the game in a variety of ways. He’s a guy that can play mostly positions for us and does a great job finishing at the rim.”

Lacey’s passion for the sport has always been a part of him. He remembers going to the park and seeing everyone at the courts playing basketball, yearning that one day he would be playing too.

“When I used to live in Detroit there (weren’t) a lot of basketball hoops, or if the parks (were) too far we would cut out the bottom of crates, (hang) it up on the buildings and we (would) shoot through the crate,” Lacey said. “Or if there was a tree that resembled a basketball hoop we (would) play basketball on the tree.”

Playing basketball has allowed him to travel to different places to play. During his high school years, he went to Europe to play basketball. He went with his teammates and the school’s basketball program paid for the trip, which lasted two weeks. The greatest moment of his trip was playing with people in wheelchairs. Lacey said it was very humbling to see people who could not walk and who were still passionate about the sport.

When Lacey is out in the field playing, he tries to stay focused. While Lacey is inside the gym, he gets a feeling of satisfaction once he sees, hears, or touches a ball.

“I get goosebumps,” Lacey said. “I’m nervous every time I step into the gym. I get eager to touch the basketball just to hear it bounce.”

Lacey is a calm and quiet individual who uses basketball as a form of meditation to express himself.

“I’m not an open-ended person, I’m kind of reserved.I use basketball to release some of my emotions, show my passion, and my character. I take (basketball) very serious,” Lacey said.

Over the years, basketball has helped grow and understand life. Lacey said that basketball has taught him how it can bring someone together, trust and learned how to depend on people.

Lacey’s aspiration in basketball is to do whatever is in his power to overcome every obstacle in his way. In order for him to get better, he practices everyday, and he likes to make sure he is the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.

“(I) keep working hard and (to) be the best I can be. I know a lot of people around me kind (of) see me going far in basketball so I (want to) do everything in (my) power and just see where the game takes me,” Lacey said.

One of the things Lacey has experienced during his games is opponent teams saying that their team is going to win. He likes to prove to them wrong.

“Teams come in here (and say) it’s an easy win. ‘We can play El Camino. I just be like, ‘Alright.’ I don’t do a lot of back and fourth talking, when it comes down, I just wanna play.I wanna show you and enforce my will on somebody,” Lacey said.

Lacey’s expectation after the basketball season is to finish with a bang.

“I wanna have a winning record and win conference games that start in January,” Lacey said.”I wanna leave with a good name, (because) our basketball program doesn’t get that much respect or attention like the other sports, so I’m just trying to gravitate to focus on our basketball program cause we put in a lot of work.”

Lacey’s teammates and coaches appreciate his hard work and enjoy having him on the team.

Assistant basketball coach Keith Crenshaw also sees potential in Lacey as a basketball player.

“He’s probably our best and our tallest player that can actually handle the ball and make good decisions,” Crenshaw said. “He’s really dynamic and will play better at the next level because of his size and skill set.”

Dessalina Martin, 21, team manager, admires Lacey’s athleticism.

“He’s a great athlete, “Martin said. “He knows his personnel and isn’t afraid to take risks on the court whether it’s going up for a dunk or taking a charge to earn free throws.”

Lacey’s teammate Isiah Armstead, sophomore guard position, enjoys having him on the team and admires his skills.

“Just his aspiration for the game,” Armstead said. “He’s a very competitive player on the court and off the court. He’s a good leader.”

Tristan Egans, freshman, guard position, sees Lacey’s determination for the game.

“He takes pride in critiquing his craft. He’s a competitive player and enjoys a win and enjoys what he does,” Egans said. “Sometimes he has to be the bad guy, so we can play at our best to win.”

Lacey’s advice to those who aspire a career in basketball is for one to to do their best and give it their all.

“Know what you’re good at, know what you bring to a team, know what you need to do to help your team win,” Lacey said. “Know your roles, fill your roles, and play your heart out.”

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Basketball player travels from Georgia to play at El Camino