It’s not every day that a professional athlete is also a best-selling author.
Well, that just happens to be the case with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil big man Jehyve Floyd. With his brand-new book “Godfidence” on Amazon’s basketball best-seller, the blossoming hoopster is making an impact both on and off of the court.
Floyd arrived in Israel in October 2020 in what was a case of “it was meant to be” after an injury to one of the Galilee squad’s players. Gilboa’s coach at the time, Lior Lubin, had been tracking Floyd’s progress and tried to land the power forward over the summer, but things just didn’t work out at the time leading Floyd to sign with a Greek club.
However, with a spot open just as the season was about to start and Floyd just getting over being sidelined due to having contracted COVID-19, it was a match made in heaven.
So far this season, the 23-year-old is averaging 10.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and has been a core player as the club sits in fifth place with a 10-6 record turning heads across the Holy Land.
Floyd grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and went to Sayreville Memorial High School before attending the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. His parents divorced when he was young, leaving him to struggle with his self-confidence as well as dealing with suicidal thoughts in an unstable upbringing. That is how the idea for his book was hatched in the fall of 2019 when he embarked on his first foray into professional basketball in Germany and was met with a stark reality right off the bat.
After not being picked in the NBA Draft in the summer of 2019, Floyd signed with American coach John Patrick’s team Ludwigsburg in the German Basketball League, but was forced to leave the team without ever playing a single game.
“When I got cut, it was really eye opening for me,” Floyd told The Jerusalem Post. “It lit a fire under me and Patrick said that I was better than I think I am and I kept thinking ‘why do they see that and I don’t?’ I had to see that before I started producing. It had me reflect on my life and had me see the direction I was going. Being able to write a book is to paint a different picture as an athlete who just plays basketball. I always felt I was more than that and it has given me a space to give my thoughts and invite them into my world.
“I had to really strengthen my faith to get over the hump and start doing what I knew I could do. Confidence is always about being more comfortable within yourself, and that is something that I always had struggled with because I didn’t understand the mental aspects within myself until I started doing research on anxiety and depression. It was embracing my truth and not feeling badly for having issues because we are all human and we all have issues.”
Floyd’s father, who is a pastor, put him in a difficult situation when he didn’t agree with the path he was taking as a basketball player.
“The expectations were that I had to be perfect, whether it was in school, church or outside. When I got into basketball it was kind of a disconnect because he just didn’t embrace that part of me. I wanted that son-father relationship, especially since my parents had divorced, and I leaned on him a lot during the time I experienced a lot of anxiety and depression when I had a lot of suicidal thoughts.
“[My father] filled that void for that period of time, but when basketball came into play the relationship began coming apart and I resented him in a way because he didn’t embrace that creative part of me and what I wanted to do with my life. He would second guess me saying ‘what if it doesn’t work out?’ My motivation was always to prove my dad wrong and that is why getting cut really hurt me because I felt that I failed and I couldn’t prove him wrong. Whatever he had told me then happened and that is where my journey of healing started from.”
The developing star knew that he had the tools to be a good player, but because he was lacking confidence he was unable to push through.
“Confidence was always something that didn’t come easy to me and I always suffered from self-doubt, second guessing and questioning my abilities as a basketball player, as I wrote about in the book. I was a late bloomer, starting to play when I was already 15 years old, so I struggled with having confidence in basketball because of that and always had to overcome that, whether it was in high school or in college.”
After leaving home for good at the age of 17 to embark on his journey to college, Floyd felt that whatever he was going to accomplish as a basketball player was never going to be enough.
“No matter how many games I won or dunks I had, it didn’t matter because I never got the approval from my dad. I only started the healing process once I realized that and I was able to be free. I was ready and able to explore my confidence and be comfortable with who I am and was able to get to where I am today.”
Floyd was able to take that next step by changing his habits along with focusing on his relationship with God as he tried to meet the challenges that he set for himself.
“I had to make that decision to change and not succumb to my negative emotions and fear. My greatest fears were abandonment and rejection and I had to face them. It took six months to really see the progress and proof, but it was an everyday thing to live right. I was trying to find my purpose in life.”
One of the influential people in Floyd’s life, someone who serves as his mentor, is basketball trainer Colin Stevens.
“My trainer brought to my attention that we had to bring balance between basketball and relationships, companionship and forgiving and being more generous to others. Being able to find that balance was big. I could be a tough guy on the court and at home I could be myself.”
Since the book’s release, Floyd has received fantastic feedback, including from a mother who would like him to talk to her son about self-confidence.
“People like the inspiration, resiliency and the childhood drama part as we are all trying to heal from that same wound, while understanding that they are human too. Now dealing with the COVID-19 situation, racism and police brutality I really advocate bringing peace and love to the world which is very important. People don’t expect athletes to have these sincere thoughts and I want to break that stereotype.”
Floyd feels that athletes like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving should be emulated for the work that they are doing and breaking those stereotypes by influencing and bringing many topics to the table.
“LeBron has done a great job using his platform and bringing many issues to the forefront as well as even building a school. When I see him, I ask ‘why can’t we all do that?’ We have a position of influence as athletes and that is huge as many look up to us as humans and that’s big. That’s something I’ll always stand up for.
“As for Kyrie, he has been doing things behind the scenes with the WNBA and HBCU and has brought mental health issues into the conversation.”
With people like Floyd picking up the mantle and leading the way, athletes are being put into the position of influence and that is something that he’s taking to heart as he tries to bring more and more positivity and self-confidence.
Floyd’s book is just one more example of the power sports personalities have in our ever-changing world and how a young man who is continuing his career in Israel is making his mark in transforming the world into a better place.Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents (www.sportsrabbi.com). Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi at [email protected]