Dominique Coursey looks at a basketball and sees something different than most folks.
Sure, he sees the orange leather and the black ribbing and the textured surface.
But he also sees the magic.
Basketball has changed the Oklahoma native’s life. He has settled in Mexico. He has learned Spanish. He has opened a school for kids who want to learn the sport he loves so much.
"Who would have thought a kid from Spencer High School would have ever done this?” Coursey said. "Not me.
"All because of one ball.”
Ever wonder why sports matter?
Then you need to hear the story of Dominique Coursey.
He grew up in the Star Spencer schools, a hard-scrabble area on the far east side of Oklahoma County, and in the early 90s, he became one of the best basketball players in the metro area. The 6-foot-5 swingman was a first-team Big All-City player as a senior.
Two years at Rose State and two years at Oklahoma Baptist followed.
Coursey wanted to continue playing basketball, but a trip to Europe for a tryout gave him second thoughts. He didn’t speak the language. He wasn’t close to home. Maybe pro ball wasn’t for him.
When a scout approached him about trying out for a new league in Mexico, Coursey practically brushed off the offer.
"The next week,” Coursey said, "he called me with a plane ticket.”
He figured he might as well go. The European teams wanted him to pay his own way to their tryout — college buddy Bob Funk Jr. and his Express Personnel family helped finance Coursey’s early travels — so the promise of a free trip seemed like a good enough reason to give it a try.
After the tryout, the league owners liked him, but even more important, he liked Mexico.
"I don’t know if I was really, really lucky ... but people here treated me so well,” Coursey said.
That kindness convinced him to stay in Mexico, and for a decade, he played for teams all over Mexico. Culiacan. Los Cabos. Chihuahua. Oaxaca. Acapulco.
There were tough days along the way. This is a guy, after all, who laughs about flunking Spanish not once, but twice in high school. Still, Coursey felt the warmth of the Mexican people everywhere he went.
"I was here maybe five years in a row on Christmas and New Year’s,” Coursey said. "I wasn’t even coming back home. I had established that family network here.
"Once I learned the language, I fell in love.”
He loved Mexico so much that he wasn’t looking to hop the first plane and bolt back to Oklahoma when the offseason came. Staying in Mexico didn’t seem so bad. In fact, it seemed pretty darn good.