This piece originally appeared on The Players’ Tribune on June 26, 2023.
It wasn’t easy to write this. It’s been an amazing 11 years, and it’s unreal to think my time here has come to an end. You spend over a decade somewhere, and that place becomes more than just the team you play for. It becomes a part of you.
I’ll never forget the day the Wizards drafted me, because it was my 19th birthday. June 28, 2012! I remember growing up, my brothers and me, we’d talk about who was going to be the first one to buy our mom her dream house. And when my name got called at #3, we all just embraced — because we knew what that meant. My family sacrificed so many of their dreams in order to help me chase mine … and if I’m telling you about my time in DC, it starts there. The Wizards made it so those dreams could be real.
DC put their faith in me with that #3 pick. It’s the type of faith you can only try to repay, and all I can say is I tried my best. Both as the person I was in the community and as the player I was on the court. I think when John and I first got here, there wasn’t necessarily all of this excitement around DC hoops. And one of the things I’m most proud of is how we were able to play at a level that helped change that. Between our success and the Mystics, I feel like we brought a whole new energy to the city.
I can still picture the look on John’s face, before Game 6 against the Celtics in 2017, as we were talking to each other in warmups. We didn’t even need to be talking — that’s how much we were on the same page about that game. It’s like we knew how anything could happen in a Game 7 in Boston, and we almost could live with that … but we weren’t losing TONIGHT. You know what I mean? It was like, Tonight we’re putting DC on our back. Memories like those will stay with me forever.
There are so many people I want to thank. To Ted Leonsis, to Ernie Grunfeld, and to Tommy Sheppard: I can’t thank you all enough for drafting and believing in a young kid from St. Louis. To my head coaches — Randy Wittman, Scott Brooks, and Wes Unseld Jr.: You have each played a pivotal role in my growth as a player and a leader. To my assistant coaches — Sam Cassell, Don Z, RIP Newman, H Eisley, Tony Brown, Roy, Rob Pack, Sully, Sufi, Richman, Chad, Longo, P, JB, Posey, Sid Lowe, Maz, Terp, Corey G, Ryno: Thank you for the knowledge you instilled in me that has evolved my game to the level it is today.
To the player development staff — Connelly, D Adkins, Landon, Lump, Mike W, Joe, Alex McLean, KT, P, Rob Dos: Thank you for pushing me and supporting me constantly. Thank you to our equipment managers, some of my favorite guys in the building: Jerry Riley (iykyk), Dave Avery, Rob, Jorge, Mango, Royce, and Thomas. Thank you to our PR team of Scott, Daren, K Dot, Matt, and to the entire day-to-day media team. Thank you to team security — Jackie Miles, Flave, BT, Mack, AJ: You kept us safe, but also brought many laughs and great moments to the organization! Thank you to the staff at Verizon/Cap One: True genuine people who loved and supported every player who entered the building. To Pastor Jenkins, Battle, McBride, Steph: Thank you for keeping God in my life along the journey. To Sashia, Ketsia, K Milly, Ed Tap, and Frank Ross: Thank you for being my MENTORS and for your guidance through the years! Thank you to C Miller, D Good, and McPeak in the cut! I will miss the talks on the back of the plane with my fam. Thank you to the unbelievable teammates I’ve had – legends, Hall of Famers, friends, and brothers! To Wizards fans, of course: Thank you for the support, the accountability, and ultimately the love. And above all, to my family: Thank you for being there every step of the way.
It’s crazy how on draft night, I was embracing my parents and brothers, as this 19-year-old kid about to move to DC … and now I’m leaving with my own family at almost 30. I really have so much appreciation for the life we were able to build here. And I have so much appreciation for how everyone has treated us on the way out. I took a lot of pride in being a franchise player, and in my relationship with the community. But I also know this is a business. And from a business standpoint it was the right time for both sides.
To everyone in Phoenix: I’m excited to play for you all, and to be part of the Suns organization. One thing I’m realizing about this team is that the days of my sons wearing BEAL #3 jerseys are probably over. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be asking for #1 or #35. But I’ll take that L — this group has a chance to be special.
To everyone in DC: It’s bittersweet. I don’t like how “goodbye” sounds, so let’s just say “see you later.” (We still got 160 to get!! You never know.) Peace, Blessings, and Prosperity to the city and fans. I hope you’ll always consider me one of your own.