Tim James apologized for being late. A rough day at work, said the Miami Heat's 1999 first-round draft pick. Vehicles broke down, problems flared up, and he simply fell behind.
"It happens," James said. "Even here."
Even here -- on the front line of the Iraq war.
A former NBA player who often wondered about his true calling, Tim James is now a U.S. Army soldier, a transformation that even many of the people closest to him never saw coming.
"I got my degree, lived the life I was able, have my freedom and became a professional athlete," James said last week from Iraq. "I'm the example of the American dream."
"I think of myself as a patriot," James said. "I wanted to give back to a country that gave so much to me."
He never questioned if he was making the right decision.
"I have no doubts," James said. "I have no regrets. Not one bit."