It ain't easy being 15 years old. When I was 15 the most I had to worry about was getting picked on by upperclassmen, and still it was rough. i can't even fathom being a 15-year-old kid training to be a professional athlete in a foreign country, and suddenly lacking the energy to move around for more than a few minutes at a time.
Such were the trials of Kristaps Porzingis when he first moved to Spain. The young Unicorn was sapped of his strength, and nobody was quite sure why. It took six months to find the cause: the blood condition anemia.
As you can guess, those six months were quite rough on Kristaps, who discussed his struggles with anemia at length in an interview with Ian Begley:
"It's all I would think about," Porzingis said. "'What's wrong with me? Why am I like this?' It was an everyday fight. And I used to get emotional, because I would be giving everything I had [in practice] and I just couldn't do it. I thought, 'Why can't I do the things that everyone else is doing?' I was just thinking I'm soft, you know?"
You can see now why the kid is so concerned with being labeled "soft." Not only could Kristaps not make it through a single practice, he couldn't run up and down the court without exhausting himself to the point where he could barely breathe. "It was the worst feeling ever," he said.
Kristaps has the condition under control thanks to iron pills, but it will stay with him the rest of his life. And still, he grinds. Kristaps Porzingis won't stop, can't stop.