Gabe Davila Takes the Court Playing for His Mom in Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Regionals
Davila named his team “Carol Lives” in honor of his ailing mother.
No one would have blamed Gabe Davila if he spent last weekend or this weekend or any of the following two weekends in a Cleveland nursing home instead of playing basketball around the country.
It is what a loving son does when his mother suffers multiple aneurysms and five strokes, putting her life in the most precarious of positions.
And while the 30-year-old spends as much time as possible at Carol’s side, talking and singing to his comatose mother, when he isn’t teaching seventh-graders or tending to the needs of his 15-year-old brother, Davila is still trying to make a dream he shared with her come true.
Playing in the Olympic Games.
Davila formed the team Carol Lives, which is participating in the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Regionals taking place in four sites each weekend in September. Last weekend, the team finished fifth in Chicago. This weekend, it will be in New York, followed by Atlanta and Los Angeles. The regionals are part of the qualifying process USA Basketball has for forming a 3x3 team hoping to compete in the discipline’s Olympic debut next year.
“My best friend, Josh Reagan, told me that my mom wouldn't not want me to play,” Davila said. “So, I thought about it and I prayed about it and I decided that it would be best if I continued to play and go to the tournaments. So that's really the motivation. I would love to make the national team, I would love to go to nationals, but my motivation is doing this for my mom.”
To qualify for the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals, Davila’s team will have to perform well in the regionals and earn one of 24 invites for the tournament next spring. From there, four players, regardless of which team they play on, will be selected to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics less than a year from now, pending the U.S. qualifying.
The fact that Davila can still spend time with his mother is something he treasures even more now. He and younger brother Alejandro were playing miniature golf on Aug. 8 when the phone call from his father came that their mother wasn’t waking up. They rushed home to find her being attended to by medical personnel before being taken to the hospital.
“They told me my mom was probably not going to make it,” Davila said.
She was flown from the hospital to the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, where doctors performed surgery. While the prognosis is bleak, the situation has helped Davila recognize some things about himself.
In addition to playing basketball and teaching, he was taking night classes and applying to medical school. Suddenly, he had to take on the responsibility of caring for Alejandro, while dad Jesus, 57, stays with Carol, 53.
“My life has changed a lot,” Davila said. “I went from, you know, just focusing on myself to my mom, my little brother, and honestly, just looking at life a little bit differently. I used to think I would see my mom every single day. Then in a moment, she's gone.”
Davila, who played at Delaware Technical Community College and the University of Rio Grande as well as overseas for three seasons, said he has relied on his faith and those around him to keep his spirits up.
“It's going to sound cliché, but Jesus keeps me going every day, my little brother keeps me going every day, those things keep me going every day,” he said, also noting his students. “I used to do everything for basketball. That was my motivation.”
But with his mother sick, that motivation wasn’t prevalent. The day after Carol was hospitalized, Davila took a walk to a nearby park to think about what was on the horizon. He broke down and cried, not knowing whether his biggest supporter would even be able to talk with him again, much less see him play basketball. A week later, still distraught, he went to the park again and finally picked up a basketball and shot a little bit.
“It's been kind of difficult, to be honest, to say the least,” Davila said.
But slowly, he regained his need to have basketball part of his life and turned his mother’s illness into motivation. That is why each weekend this month, he will be in a different city, looking to win a regional title and make his mother proud.
“To be honest, I could care less about winning money,” Davila said. “I could care less about anything like that. I really just want to win, so I can come back to the nursing home and literally tell my mom that, 'Hey, I made it to Nationals. Or a we won the tournament.' That's all I want. I could care less if I had zero points every game. That means nothing to me.”
Watch the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Regional action from New York all day Sept. 14, beginning at 10 a.m. EDT, live on Twitch at Twitch.TV/NBA!