By Dwayne Tingley
Carl English, who left his Newfoundland home when he was just 16 years-old to pursue his basketball dreams, has played for countless coaches all over the world, but he calls the advice he received from his grade school teacher the best he's ever heard.
Gord Pike, a teacher and principal at Fatima Academy, told English last year that he may still feel like competing at a high level, but he should always make sure he's healthy enough to play with his children.
And so it is. English, now 39, has played U.S. Division I basketball at Hawaii, in the NBA Development League, spent more than a decade with Canada's national team, was a leader with several European club teams and was the most valuable player in the National Basketball League of Canada with his hometown St. John's Edge.
That remarkable career will be remembered in a stirring tribute on Feb. 23, before the Edge host the Island Storm in an NBL of Canada game at Mile One Centre in St. John's. Special guests will pay tribute and the team is putting together a video that will highlight many of his career's achievements.
There will be a banner raising when the Edge retire his fabled No. 23.
"It is appreciated, but I have to admit there are some mixed emotions," English said. "I never thought there would be something like this.
"In many ways, I feel like I could still play and contribute, but maybe my body is telling me something after 10 surgeries (including his back, wrist, elbows and four ankle operations).
"I've been lucky enough to be supported by a lot of great people, including my wonderful wife (Mandy) and I want to spend time with the three kids. My family is my priority and they go into every decision I make."
English, who was a leader with the Edge, when they advance to the final last season, has just released a book of memoirs entitled Chasing a Dream, which he co-wrote with Blake Murphy of The Atlantic and the Toronto Raptors. It's a best-seller with more than 10,000 copies sold in less than a month.
"It's been an incredible journey with a lot of ups and downs along the way, but I hope my story can influence young people to always chase their dreams," English said.
Edge president Tyrone Levingston said English is an inspiration.
"He's done so much for Canadian basketball and the sport in the country and his home province so we're pleased to honour him," Levingston said.
"We've seen him raise the profile of our league and the sport of basketball," he added. "We want to thank him for his great career and we want to with him well with all of his future endeavors."
English said he wants to stay involved in basketball for many years and he could build a sports academy to encourage young boys and girls to be active and play this game that has been so good to many for such a long time."