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."
Tim James was a good basketball player. He is a man of exceptional character and a genuine patriot. Thank you for your service, Spc. James. May God bless you and bring you home safe.