Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan are a few basketball superstars that some younger players see and try to emulate.
Texas Tech senior guard David Tairu idolizes Richard Hamilton.
"He moves without the basketball real well and he shoots 15-foot jump shots," Tairu said of Hamilton. "It's a lost art because we have a lot of people who want to drive in and make the spectacular play or try and dunk on somebody or they want to shoot three-pointers. It's rare that you see a person that just come off a screen, catch and shoot a 15-foot mid-range jump shot. I try to idolize my game after him."
If Hamilton is a rarity the same can be said of Tairu. On the court, Tairu has been a consistent force for the Red Raiders, while off the court his strong faith has put him in a different light than most college athletes. For Tairu, it is all about becoming second.
"In anything that you do, I was always taught to put others before yourself because that is the life of Jesus Christ and that is what he represented," Tairu said. "I try to model my actions and everything that I do after him. The Bible says to humble yourselves and serve others and that's what I try to do."
Tairu's beliefs are evident and displayed in how he shares the basketball with his teammates.
"I am a very unselfish player," the Temple Hills, Md., product said. "I was always taught in order to score you have to pass the ball. You have to make others around you happy and they will do the same for you. It's all about becoming second. Once you do that, everybody else will try to fulfill your needs as well once you try to serve them."
Tairu possesses leadership qualities on and off the court. His actions may not always be loud and vocal, but nevertheless they are always quite observant and present.
"David brings an active leadership and a physical leadership," junior center Robert Lewandowski said. "He leads not so much with words but what he does, his actions, and you will hear that from a lot of people."
Lewandowski believes Tairu's mentality on the court is steady and can be comparable to the mentality of a quarterback in a football game.
"He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low, and that's how they always describe quarterbacks nowadays," Lewandowski said. "They do something well and they don't go crazy and overdo it. He is great at staying level-headed and keeping his composure."
Freshman forward Jaye Crockett, in his first season on the team, has observed Tairu's influence.
"He brings a real solid impact to the team," Crockett said. "Sometimes things get out of control and he will just keep a level head."
On game day, the chance to compete and match skills with the opposition is what gets Tairu's heart racing.
"Competition motivates me," said Tairu. "I love to compete no matter who it is against. For me to get motivated is just to know that the opponent wants to play against us That is motivation enough."
After getting motivated on game day, Tairu must do one thing before the game tips off, say a prayer.
"I always ask God, 'If it's in Your will, may we please win this game, and if not, thank you for the opportunity for us to play this game,'" Tairu said. "I always ask God that the people out there don't just see David Tairu because I am nothing. I want the people to see Jesus Christ in me. I just try to model myself to keep a good character."
According to Lewandowski, Tairu's faith and spirituality was something that was missing.
"I remember the first day of practice he came in and huddled everyone up and something we've never had on our team was spirituality and he brought that," said Lewandowski. "He brought us together as a family."
In his last season as a Red Raider, Tairu is beginning to look toward the future, with aspirations of bigger dreams to fulfill.
"I definitely would love to play professional basketball, whether it is overseas or the NBA," Tairu said. "If God doesn't call me to play basketball, I definitely want to be affiliated in the youth and try to be a motivational speaker."
Lewandowski sees nothing but success in the future for his friend and teammate.
"In terms of basketball, I think he has got a chance to play somewhere. Someone is going to want his work ethic," Lewandowski said. "I hope and pray for the best for him. We all know that basketball is not the most important thing in life and he knows that. I think he is going to be called to do some great things."
No matter what the future may hold for David Tairu, one thing is certain - that it will be very bright.
"If God calls me to do something different, then so be it," Tairu said.
After all, to him, it's all about becoming second.