COLUMN: Story of 32-year-old's NBA debut should inspire students to persevere

On April 11, 32-year-old Andre Ingram made his Los Angeles Lakers debut after 10 seasons in the NBA G League. His story of perseverance should inspire college students. 

With 11 minutes left in the second quarter, Ingram caught a pass from Lakers' power forward Travis Wear, quickly putting a shot up and drilling his first 3-pointer. 

Ingram holds the record for most 3-pointers made in the G League. He did not disappoint in his first NBA game, scoring 19 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. 

Early in the second quarter, "M-V-P" chants filled the Staples Center as Ingram stepped away from the foul line — hitting both free throws. Lakers fans recognized the effort and determination it took for Ingram to work his way into the NBA. 

It was the moment he had worked for after 10 years, and he seized it. The improbable performance proved dreams do become reality — with perseverance. 

In high school, Ingram found himself overshadowed by the rest of the 2003 draft class — star-studded with recruits like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Ingram left big questions to be answered about defense and athleticism. 

Four years later after going to college, Ingram went undrafted out of American University in Washington D.C. He signed with NBA G League teams in Oshkosh and Fort Wayne, earning a measly $19,500 salary.  

Ingram then moved to the Utah Flash and later, after the team folded, found himself a spot on the Los Angeles D-Fenders — the Lakers' G League affiliate, which was later renamed to the South Bay Lakers. He was on the road to being part of the 2018 Los Angeles Lakers locker room. 

Ingram had his bags packed April 9 to travel back to his home in Virginia and headed to what he thought was an exit interview to discuss the season. Suddenly, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Lakers owner Magic Johnson walked in. 

"I thought, 'this could be it,'" Ingram said. 

Ingram was called up to the Lakers and signed for the rest of the season. 

Before signing the contract for the final two games of the season, Ingram called his wife to tell her the news. Ingram's wife and two children flew to watch him make his NBA debut. 

"I was just sitting back watching the game as a fan,” said Lakers center Brook Lopez. “I’m like, ‘Wow, this is the stuff dreams are made of.’” 

Ingram's story is one that should inspire college students to persevere in their academic career, especially as the end of the 2018 year concludes. 

Every student has a dream. Central Michigan University provides opportunity, but it is up to the student to work, believe and persist through difficulty to make that dream come true.