Richard Caldwell Jr. is a professional basketball player in the FLBB – Fédération luxembourgeoise de Basketball.
He didn’t start playing basketball seriously until the age of 11. Then, during a pivotal time for him – his senior year of high school – Richard’s father and biggest supporter passed away.
He saw how hard his mother worked to keep his family going after their loss, and it helped to shape his outlook going forward.
Richard is a tremendous representation of how to overcome adversity to fulfill your dream. Playing overseas was not originally a part of his plan, but it’s impacted his life for the better.
We had the chance to speak with Richard about his unique basketball journey, adjusting to the pro level, advice for high school athletes, and more.
When are your earliest memories of basketball?
What made me fall in love with the sport of basketball is my Dad. He loved basketball and we always talked about it and I know he’s proud of how far I’ve come.
Another memory that I have is always watching the NBA when I was younger. That always inspired me to go hard every day so that I can one day be on that big stage.
How did your parents help shape your outlook and work ethic?
My parents helped shape my outlook and work ethic by always putting forth their best effort in all that they did. I watched my mom get up for work early every morning, come home and cook, and made sure me and all of my siblings were taken care of, knowing she was tired but she never complained about anything.
I watched my Dad do the same things and it just made me want to work hard because they helped me realize that nothing is given easily.
What was the recruiting process like for you in high school?
The recruiting process started fairly late for me compared to other high school athletes. I didn’t receive my first offer until my junior year.
I really got my opportunity in my senior year at a basketball camp. My grades out of high school weren’t the best, but a JUCO called Lamar gave me the opportunity to play for them and it has only been uphill from there.
Tell me about your college basketball career. How did you develop as a player? And when did playing overseas become a real possibility?
Going from high school basketball to collegiate basketball was a huge change for me.
In high school, I didn’t work out as much. I was kind of just playing basketball and not doing all the extra necessities, like conditioning and being in the weight room.
Once I got to college I started doing both of those and saw myself improve. I got stronger and faster, which showed on the court.
Playing overseas became a real possibility in my second year of college. I was playing very well against D1 schools and I also had been in contact with an agent who was interested in me.
How hard was it to adjust to the pro level?
It was hard for me to acclimate to the pro level. In my first game overseas, I didn’t do too well.
The pro level is more slow-paced than the collegiate level. The pro level is more mental, meaning you have to have a higher IQ. Now it just isn’t about knowing how to play basketball, you have to be smart with every move that you make.
But I realized that I could compete at the pro level in my second game. That was my first professional win and I had 20 points that game.
What is the most overlooked challenge of playing pro basketball overseas?
The most overlooked challenge of playing pro basketball overseas is not being able to be around my family and friends. It gets lonely over there and I get in my head and just think too much.
Another challenge for me is the food, not being able to eat the food that I want to eat is definitely hard.
What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to a high school athlete who wants to play in college?
The #1 piece of advice that I would give to a high school athlete who wants to play in college is to always put forth your best effort in everything. Don’t half-do anything because it may hurt you in the long run.
This advice goes for school and for your sport.
How can our readers support you?
Also, follow my friends and my clothing brand on Instagram, we are trying to help the youth @saylesswrldwide.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Richard for being so generous with his time and for sharing his journey with us!
If you enjoy stories like this, join thousands of sports fans on our free Underdog Newsletter to discover the overlooked stories you won’t hear about on ESPN.