News: Sailor breaks out on Alcatraz
Story by Pfc. Sullivan Laramie
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.- The dull sound of a basketball striking the court floor is enough to get his heart beating faster, and a beating heart is something with which he is familiar.
Seaman Sean M. Vincent, a corpsman with 2nd Dental Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, participated in the Red Bull King of the Rock 2012 basketball tournament at Alcatraz Island, Calif., Sept. 22.
For the 25-year-old Baton Rouge, La., native, this competition was 20 years in the making. He started playing basketball around the age of five at his parents’ urging.
Vincent did not make it onto any high school basketball teams, much to his dismay. His coaches said he was too short.
However, their rejections did not stop him. He continued to play the sport throughout high school anywhere he could.
After high school, Vincent struggled to find his place in the world. He bounced from job to job. College was difficult and very expensive, so he left after a few semesters.
In April 2011, he was looking for a change.
“I was 22 at the time, still living with my parents,” Vincent said. “I had to get out.”
With college and work out of the question, Vincent said he couldn’t see himself getting where he wanted to be or doing the things he wanted to do if he stayed in his hometown.
That was when he met with a Navy recruiter and decided to enlist.
Vincent went through Medical Corps School and field medical training, where he learned basic techniques such as intravenous therapy and blood and marrow transfusions.
Upon arriving to Camp Lejeune, Vincent volunteered for an intern position at the 2nd Dental Bn. prosthetics lab, where he makes stents, which are tubes used in surgery to keep blood vessels open, mouth guards and prosthetic teeth.
The busy lifestyle of a corpsman didn’t kill his love for basketball, though.
Vincent heard about a basketball tournament scheduled for July 20, 2012, from a friend. He decided he would try out for the game just for fun, though the $1,000 prize he learned about didn’t hurt.
“I thought it was just for the base to build camaraderie,” Vincent said. “I just went out there and played. I didn’t expect I would win.”
The tournament was not just for the base, however. It was actually a qualifying match for a bigger game, and Vincent quickly found himself with a ticket to San Francisco to play in the Red Bull King of the Rock 2012 basketball tournament on Alcatraz Island, Calif., in September.
“I was in shock,” he said. “It really didn’t hit me right away. It didn’t seem like I was actually going to California.”
He said it became more surreal once he arrived.
“It made me feel like I was one of the best players in the world,” he said. He began wondering if he was actually good enough to play in the tournament.
The competition was among 64 of the best players from 24 countries, and each player had his own style. Many of the players were larger than Vincent’s 6-foot-4 inch, 173-pound frame.
In the end, Vincent made it to the third round and final 16 players and said it made him more confident than ever.
“I feel like I’ve trained hard,” Vincent said. “I didn’t play against easy opponents the first two rounds. I had to persevere because I wasn’t the biggest one out there. I had to play big whenever they got the ball.”
Vincent said even though he didn’t make it to the final round, he still won. His prize was mental toughness and endurance.
“It was freezing cold on Alcatraz Island,” he said. “The wind was blowing hard, and they gave us shorts. I think everyone in that tournament wore at least three layers of clothing.
“It’s easy to shoot when the sun is out,” he added. “But when you’re out there and the wind is blowing, and you’ve got cameras, people and microphones, you feel pressure. At the same time, you have to turn that off and focus on winning. You’ve got to stay focused, so I relate that to my job.”