Quency Alipate holds not just a basketball in his hands, but the key to his dreams
Trinity Advincula- De Los Angeles
Inside the universe made up of many hearts of all the people in countless galaxies, each lies a star—a dream that shines with their hopes and passions. Some wish to be doctors, others wish to be artists, and so on, but in the hearts of ardent basketball lovers there is one reoccurring hope that shines: to be in the NBA. Here at American, there is a story of a boy who shares this similar star.
This student, to whom an ordinary ball means everything, is Quency Alipate, a sophomore here at American. His passion for basketball goes beyond just the game. For him, it is an escape, and this very ball is a star that his life revolves around.
“I want to go to the NBA,” Alipate said. “That’s my main dream.”
The rush of playing and practicing serves a retreat from the outside world and his rough childhood.
“It was a get-away for me from all the things I was going through growing up,” Alipate added. “It was like an escape.”
Quency did not have much as a little kid because his family struggles financially. He didn’t have things like a phone, and sometimes even food. But when his mother first got him a basketball, little did he know that it would soon become everything to him.
“She bought me a basketball, and had found this hoop, and then she just showed me how to shoot the ball,” Alipate said. “From there, I just started to teach myself.”
He would spend most of his time with the new gift, playing out in the front yard with a 3-foot beginner’s hoop. That worn-out hoop grew taller and taller as Quency did, reaching its maximum 6-foot reach.
“I would just go outside everyday and go shoot around and go back inside when I was done,” he said.
Quency found himself becoming more and more invested and attached to basketball as he grew up. It was the one thing he could actually hold onto from his busy life, where he barely gets 5 hours of sleep because of school and training, and the ceaseless motion from one house to another.
“I’m bouncing around. I don’t really have a place I can call home,” Quency said. “I’m always at a friend’s house or something.”
Soon after settling into one place, he had to move to another due to his financial situation, forcing him to say goodbye to any new friends. He and his family moved all around the Bay Area, trying to find a sense of permanence.
“I never really had time to make friends, and if I did I would always end up losing them,” Quency said. “It just kind of got to that point where I just went to school and came home.”
Back home, Quency did not have it easy either. It was not just moving from place to place that made his childhood rough, but also the disappearance of his father, and occasionally, even his mother. This break contributed greatly to the weakened financial support.
“My dad was always gone, [he went] out drinking, getting in trouble. He was never around,” he said. “My mom sometimes had her moments too, and she would leave. I would be home alone for days [and] I’m a little kid at this point, I don’t know what’s going on.”
Quency’s family would always come back to a certain house in “the slums” of East Palo Alto.
“No matter where and when we moved, we always went back to East Palo Alto, because our family house is there,” he said. “That house is like my home. It’s not the best area, but it’s a house I can actually call a home.”
It was the biggest house on the block with two stories, four bedrooms, and a little porch. There, his cousins, uncles, grandma, great aunties and aunties lived together. Though it was the closest thing he had to home, and everyone he loved was there, that did not mean that he felt safe. Living in East Palo Alto made living in his own home dangerous—he always had to watch his back.
“It was bad and really dangerous, you know, like being scared to walk down the street [because] you’ll get shot or something,” Quency said. “That stuff…it gets into your head.”
It was all Quency was used to.
“I’ve always grown up in East Palo Alto, but then I would move around and I would be in other dangerous and run-down slums,” Alipate said. “I never really got to a safe place. We didn’t have any money so we were always in the run-down part.”
People always came into Quency’s life expecting to get him into trouble with drugs and crime, or involve him in gang activity. Though he was just a young child, he never succumbed to them, and this was mostly thanks to his mom and his grandma.
“[Certain people] tried to persuade me to do certain things. [But] I just knew right from wrong.”
Quency was now forced to grow up faster and this is where his discovery of a safe home in basketball comes in.
“I’ve seen a lot of things. I think that’s what got me wanting to be so independent,” he added. “Now, I don’t want anybody to help me at all, and I feel like I can do it myself, and that’s when basketball came in, and that’s when it started to help me out. Now, that’s my dream.”
As if it was a shining star in the darkness of night, basketball took him to another place where he does not have to worry about anything else except him and his game.
“It was something I could use to get my mind off of everything,” Quency said. “I didn’t have to focus on anything else besides shooting and getting better.”
His dream of getting into the NBA is not just for the glory, but also the hope of getting a life for both him and his family that is better than what they had to go through and what they go through now. He hopes that it will bring his family joy, and make them proud.
“My family [and I] were very poor, so I think being able to know that somebody made it, that somebody was successful, and they can say “they made their dreams come true”…I think they would be happy for me,” Quency said. “It would mean a lot to me to know that I can help them, especially financially.”
Quency entered a slump in the summer of eighth grade where his passion and heart for basketball declined. During this time, Quency had a conversation with his cousin that stuck with him.
“We were on the phone for a good 7 or 8 to 9 hours,” Alipate said. “Once I started seeing how reality was and started noticing everything all at once, [it was] a reality check. That’s when I just became mentally sick of everything. I was just done.”
Something saved him. Something came through.
“I was so done with everything that I was just willing to give everything up,” Quency said. “And then I started hearing different stories of basketball players, and [I realized] that no matter what you go through you have to keep your head up, and you have to keep pushing.”
Seeing those basketball players rekindled that fire once again, and he those words to heart. Quency kept his head up.
“I just applied that to my life everyday in basketball,” Quency added. “It took me three weeks to get back on track, but after that I was good. My game got a lot better, and I just started focusing more.”
It took him a lot to get back up and find the light of that star that shined in his dream again, but Quency persisted, and he came out of that depression with a newfound determination. Now that basketball, that star, is every ounce of his being, all of his efforts to shoot it so high that it will finally hit the goal and make his dreams a reality. It is a star that will keep going until the end.
“My wish would be just to make my dreams come true,” Quency said. “Everything I fight for, everything I work for…just to get there one day.”