by Rina O. Marqeuz
Alex Compton may be considered a bona fide celebrity here in the Philippines, what with all the media exposure he has already received. While he is most popularly known as a basketball player, he has also made a name for himself as a commercial model and actor, as well as a host.
The road to where he is wasn’t exactly easy, however. Although he was born in the Philippines, the fact that his parents were both pure Americans kept him from being a player in the Philippine Basketball Association or PBA. When the opportunity for him to play as a special import came to him in 2006, he saw it as a sign of special favor from the Lord. It was just one conference, but it was a privilege for him to be able to play.
“I choose to look at it as a tremendous opportunity, a blessing,” he says.
When asked what it’s like being in the court and whether or not it’s a war zone, Alex chuckles. He explains that opposition comes in all forms when you’re in court. You could be pushed, punched, kicked, and elbowed… and that’s only on the physical side.
“There’s verbal abuse too,” he says. “People will try to get you out of your game by shouting profanities at you and stuff like that. And I’m not saying that this is only from your opponents. Even your fellow teammates may do di?erent things to steer your focus away from the game. It’s a real battle out there once you’re playing.”
“When I ?nd myself in situations like these, I think to myself, ‘What’s the whole point of the game? What’s the big picture?’” It’s to beat the opponent, right? The only way to beat them is to score more points. So when I’m playing, I focus on the fact that I’m there to score points and not to dwell on any physical and emotional pain that may be inflicted on me. In the end, it’s still about the score on the scoreboard, not the number of bruises I can cause.”
Alex relates the game to the battle of life. “It gives you a perspective of how the devil tries to get us sidetracked. He may try to intimidate us by letting us go through difficulties and hardships which may be caused by our enemies or even our loved ones. He would try to make us focus on what we go through rather than the end goal. In the end, though, we need to go on to win.”
At present, Alex is an assistant coach for the “Rain or Shine” team in the PBA. He also serves as a television commentator for the PBA, PBL, and the UAAP. Outside of the professional court, Alex spends his time organizing basketball camps throughout the country and doing charity work both in the Philippines and in other nations. He also works with Philippine youth as Training Director of the National Basketball Training Center, and Project Director of the Nike Elite Basketball Camp.
When Alex talks about the student program of WE International Inc. Philippines, where he serves as the Director of Public Relations, one can really sense his compassion. Aside from the on-going social services programs at the Smokey Mountain site, WE International also has a rewards program for the student-of-the-month. The student-of-the-month is treated to a good meal at a nice restaurant to celebrate his or her achievement. Another project the group has is to expose the kids by taking them to the country’s version of paradise.
“Imagine, from Smokey Mountain to Boracay,” he says. “What does that do for their perspective? It gives them hope, inspiration. There’s something that happens there that’s very powerful.” With all the activities simultaneously happening in this athlete’s life, one might be curious: how much time does Alex devote to basketball, entertainment, social work, and ministry? “You don’t separate them. One may look like it’s a ministry… but it’s all ministry. Ministry means to serve. I serve… It’s all the same.”
Photos by Mags Lim
Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.