Joshua Langford Finds Success By Turning Adversity Into Experience
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Packed into Joshua Langford’s (Madison Academy/Huntsville, Ala.) 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame is more experience than you might expect to find in a 19-year-old high school senior. That experience likely is one of the reasons he earned himself a roster spot on the 2016 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that will take on the World Select Team in the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 in Portland, Oregon.
“It meant a lot,” Langford said of playing for USA Basketball. “Just being a part of a USA Basketball team – it’s a great honor to represent your country, and I feel like it should be treated with a lot of seriousness. I just want to take it seriously when I get out there and just go out and put my best foot forward and try to win the game.”
One of the most impactful experience in Langford’s young life occurred when he was just 12 years old. He contracted bacterial meningitis and spent more than a week in the hospital and another two weeks at home before he could return to school.
“It was a tough time for me to go through that,” Langford explained. “I was 12 years old when I went through it. It is something that is always going to stay with me, because it was an eye-opener for me to try to live my life a different way than I was living it. Even if I was at a younger age, it allowed me to put thing in perspective, and I matured way more than the other 12 year olds that were around me. I was able to understand certain things because of that situation that I went through. It’s always going to be with me because it was kind of a catalyst for me to try to become a better Christian person. To take life not for granted and to live with a purpose.”
The 2013 and 2014 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Alabama and a four-time Class 3A State Player of the Year, Langford began racking up varsity experience as an eighth-grader at Madison Academy, and he has won two Alabama State High School Athletic Association state titles since then (2013 and 2015).
So far this season, Langford and his teammates have advanced after a first-round playoff game. After missing five games due to an ankle injury, Langford returned to the court to score 15 points to help his team defeat West Morgan 72-46 in the Area 15 championship.
“It was hard because, it was hard to sit and watch the game, but I feel like when you go through certain adverse moments in life, you have to learn how to reinvent yourself in those moments and use every moment, circumstance and opportunity to grow from it,” Langford said of his recent time on the sideline. “I feel like I grew from it. I got to work on my shot with just my form, because I wasn’t able to shoot an actual jump shot. I was able to really just work on my form and get it right and get it to where I’m so comfortable with it. When you go through tough times, you have to learn from those tough times and try to reinvent yourself, whatever you are going through.
“You always want to make it to the big dance and win, and that’s the plan,” Langford said of his hopes of winning a third 3A state title. “There was an expectation that was set at the beginning of the year that we were going to try and win a championship. We feel like we are a championship team. We have the tools and the different things to let us go that far. It’s up to us if we want to be that kind of team or not. We’re working pretty hard. We are grinding it out. We lost a couple of games and had a few let downs, but we learned from it, and that’s the key. If you learn from your mistakes and you grow from your mistakes, that’s the best thing you can do.”
It isn’t the first time Langford has been sidelined due to injury. He also missed time during his junior year, when he had surgery on one of his hands.
“When I hurt my hand, I felt like I pushed myself in a leadership role and tried to be a better leader,” Langford explained. “Before my junior year, I wasn’t really that much of a talkative person. I was more just about doing it through action but not actually saying it. I saw that other good leaders do it through action and they are comfortable speaking about it. That’s what I tried to push myself to do. I tried to get out of my comfort zone and tried to lead. It took a while to not be afraid of confrontation and things like that. I feel like it actually worked. I’m still growing and trying to become a better leader, but to me, that was my junior year – it was pivotal in me becoming a better leader.”
Among his more recent experiences are five different USA Basketball training camps over the past four years. 2016, however, will mark the first time Langford has been selected to a USA Basketball 12-man, national team roster.
“I think it helped me with my mentality,” Langford said of his time at USA training camps. “I can remember the first time I ever went out there, and I did a really good job. I did really well. And then the second time I came, my mentality wasn’t the same. I was kind of lackadaisical, and I didn’t make the team. So, it created a mindset within in me to always go hard, every play, every possession, and never take the game for granted, because there is always somebody out there working. It gave me a tremendous respect for what the coaches teach.
“I’m a competitor, and I want to compete,” Langford added when asked if not making a roster ever had made him not want to return. “I never look at myself as a quitter. I knew I had enough skills to make the team. It was just a matter of putting everything together and being focused.”
Langford saw his attitude and effort rewarded when he was named on Dec. 14, 2015 to the USA team for the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit, which features the best high school seniors from around the country against elite international players who are 19 years old or younger.
The Nike Hoop Summit has been a springboard into the NBA for many players throughout the years, and in fact, an incredible 178 former USA and World Select Team members have been drafted by NBA teams, including 13 alumni in the 2015 NBA Draft and 14 players in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I’ve known about it since I was a young kid,” Langford said of the event. “I followed it when Derrick Rose and all those guys were in it (2007). It’s just great to know that I’m going to be a part of something so great.
“I think I’m going to bring all the intangibles across the board,” Langford added. “Do what I’m supposed to do and bring a winning mentality. Whatever it takes for the team to get it done, I’m willing to do it.”
All of Langford’s on court success is in addition to his service to his community. He teaches Sunday school for boys at his church, New Zion Steadfast Primitive Baptist Church, where he delivers the morning sermon every third Sunday. He often also speaks at Madison Academy’s chapel services.
“When I first started, I was kind of nervous, but as I grew spiritually, it is kind of like clockwork,” Langford said of speaking in front of his congregation. “Once you read the Word, it is inside of you, and it’s not hard to for me to go out and speak it in front of people. The more I started doing it, I got better at it. I’m loving it, and hopefully I can keep growing in it and keep moving forward and learning.
“Well, for one, it just helps you remember that you have something you have to live life for,” Langford said when asked how preaching has helped him personally. “You always have something in the back of your brain. It makes you want to be focused with your spiritual life. And when I got to awards ceremonies and things like that, it helps me be comfortable in those situations because I’m already used to speaking. And so those two things are how I feel it has helped me most.”
Langford will bring all of his experiences with him to Portland, on the court and off, which he said will be the realization of a childhood dream.
“It’s something I have thought about since I was a little kid,” Langford said of donning red, white and blue and representing the United States. “I know it is going to be a great feeling, and when I do it, I may even get emotional. I know it’s going to be a great feeling, and I just can’t wait to do it. It’s a goal that I’m able to mark off on my list of goals. It’s exciting, and I feel blessed.”
Don’t miss Langford and his USA teammates in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit and get your tickets now: bit.ly/nikehoopsummit