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Thank you for changing my life

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Kimani Okearah

The StR staff planned on working through the end of March, but that was under the assumption that the NBA would still be happening. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re instead going to spend this week saying our goodbyes in individual posts and handing over the reigns. You can join us in our next step at KingsHerald.com and follow us on Twitter @TheKingsHerald -Greg

It’s been less than two years since I wrote my first words about basketball.

What I wrote was bad and boring. I didn’t know where to post it. I tried all sorts of random message boards and eventually built my own cheap website. No one ever read what I wrote, and that’s a good thing.

But a friend noticed what I was doing and told me about Sactown Royalty. He told me that I could write Fan Posts, and that people would actually read them. I truly have no idea how I missed it before, because StR was exactly what I was looking for.

The first time I wrote a Fan Post, I was writing with purpose. I had been in community college for a couple years and I was on the path of a math major. Writing about basketball was my desperate attempt to prove to myself I didn’t have to become an accountant or an engineer. Don’t get me wrong, those are great jobs, but I was miserable and my calculus class was killing me.

I made a plan to write one 1,000-word post each week. If good things started happening, I would change my major to journalism. I had fantasies of interviewing players, of exploring the polished underbellies of NBA arenas, of one day being hired by a newspaper.

I shook my head to knock those crazy thoughts out. But I kept writing with the platform that Sactown Royalty provided. Of course, those good things did start happening. Or rather, good people started making those good things happen for me.

Bryant gave a shout out to my very first Fan Post on the StR podcast. Greg provided editorial guidance after some mildly invasive DMs. Tim retweeted me even though I had maybe 50 followers. Tony let me interview him for an hour on Skype for a class assignment. Eventually Akis told me to stop writing Fan Posts and join the staff.

The whole team, every single person, taught me how to get better. They did it generously and without prompting. We became close friends. I shared my dreams with them. And while I didn’t think they were realistic, they did.

Now I’m close to graduating from Sac State with a degree in journalism. I’m an intern at the Sacramento Bee. I’ve watched games from the press box. I’ve been inside the Kings locker room. I’ve interviewed the legendary Harry Giles. He introduced me to his mom.

There is absolutely no question why it all happened. It’s Sactown Royalty. Not just Akis, who advocated for me to get credentials. Not just Blake, who let me shadow him at the Golden 1 Center. Not just Kimani, who made me feel comfortable in a massive arena full of people.

It’s this entire community. If the comment section didn’t exist, I would have given up. Every reader who gave a rec to one of my first pieces holds some responsibility for me believing that I could and should change my life completely.

This is not how everyone approaches blogging. Most people do it as a hobby or a passion project alongside their normal job. But I needed direction in my life. I was about to turn 30 and I was tired of working at a laundromat for $13 an hour.

I want a career in sportswriting. And I still have a long way to go. But it doesn’t end here. This was just the start. And every person reading this was a part of that.

Thank you.