Sunday, August 1, 2021

Joshua Langford calls it quits on basketball: 'I'm excited for the next part of my race'

April 19, 2021
Junior guard Joshua Langford (1) watches a free throw during the game against Florida Gulf Coast University at Breslin Center on Nov. 11, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Eagles, 106-82.
Junior guard Joshua Langford (1) watches a free throw during the game against Florida Gulf Coast University at Breslin Center on Nov. 11, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Eagles, 106-82. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

For Michigan State's Joshua Langford, the basketball section of his race is over, but he looks forward to the next part of the marathon ahead.

He said he's finished with basketball — after multiple injuries derailed and extended his time at Michigan State.

In Langford's Instagram statement, which announced the official end to his playing career, Langford introduced this concept of his "race." It's an ideology he said he gathered from the late rapper Nipsey Hussle who was well known for the saying: "The marathon continues."

"At the end of the day I finished, I ran my race, I feel like for this part of my journey and I'm excited for the next part of my race," Langford said in a press conference on Monday.

"I always use that term race because it means so many different things to me," Langford said. "First, it means that I have my own race and I don't necessarily have to try to run someone else's race. Then, it also means that even if part of the race may end it doesn't mean I don't have two or three more legs to go. Just because I'm making this decision to stop playing basketball doesn't mean that I won't be excellent in a different sphere of life."

Langford returned for his fifth year season in 2020-21 while pursuing his master's degree in education with a concentration in sports coaching and leadership. Langford said he will finish that degree sometime around this summer.

Despite an additional year of eligibility at Michigan State available to him due to COVID-19, Langford said mentally, he was ready to move on. However, the decision to leave the game wasn't an easy one especially considering his love for the game since the age of six. Basketball has always been his life: The Alabama native was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. So saying goodbye to the game isn't easy, but the upperclassmen feels it is the right one.

Even as disappointing as his team's loss to UCLA in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament may seem, Langford said he discovered a sense of peace in that ending.

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"The reason why I had peace is because I feel like I went out the way I wanted to," Langford said. "I didn't necessarily let an injury dictate my career. I was able to persevere by God's grace and just keep going."

Langford battled an injury-plagued career during his time in the green and white. He sat out for half of the 2018-19 season and the entirety of the 2019-20 season due to an injury to his left foot. In those seasons he played a pivotal role on the sidelines, but he said there were many times when giving up seemed like the only option.

"I had thought about giving up 100 times, but my friend Tum Tum (Nairn Jr.) he talks about how the urge to quit doesn't necessarily mean you're a loser, the urge to quit actually solidifies that you are a winner," Langford said. "Quitters don't necessarily get the urge to quit because all they do is quit, but winners get the urge to quit because all they do is win."

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In terms of his next step, Langford left that question open saying he would "go with the wind." However, he did mention staying around sports may be on the path for him.

"I think I will be around all sports in general just because of how relatable my experiences are to the athlete," Langford said. "I think I would be putting myself in a box if I say I just want to be around the game of basketball, I think my experiences will allow me to relate and connect with all different kinds of sports."

So for Langford, the next leg of his race is just beginning.

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