"One bad decision can change a person's life ..."
Derrick Nix is right. All it takes is one bad decision and a person's life can change and now, his has.
But thanks to Tom Izzo's good decision, Nix's bad decision can change his life for the best.
When Izzo elected to reinstate Nix to the Michigan State basketball program -- with conditions -- it spoke a voice of confidence in the soon-to-be senior forward.
Nix already has made tremendous strides in the MSU program, in multiple decisions to stick it out and put in the work necessary to succeed. Three years ago he came to East Lansing as an overweight (306.5 pounds) and out-of-shape (24.5 percent body fat) freshman.
He almost left the program early in the 2010-11 season, going as far as not making the trip to Maui with the rest of the team.
Instead, he stayed and buckled down and slimmed down to 270 pounds and 15.7 percent body fat, going from a player who could hardly get up and down the court a couple times, to a player who was out on the fast break, at times.
Reality was, and is, he was a different player on the court because of his work off the court. Now, he faces more work off the court -- but he has shown he can handle a challenge.
And Izzo made it very clear, he will challenge Nix, because this decision was made not for basketball reasons, but to see the personal growth of Nix continue. He will leave Michigan State a different person outside, but more important, inside.
The leadership qualities already are emerging, as shown by the postgame locker room comments Nix made to the team after the Louisville loss.
"I thought Nix said it best," Izzo said. "He thanked those guys for leading the way for him, showing him how it’s supposed to be, maybe something we didn’t have last year."
In a year from now, the underclassmen should have a chance to thank Nix for leading them -- and showing them how to learn and grow from mistakes. As Izzo chose to invest in Nix's character, it will be paid forward in the future Spartans, and in the community (Izzo guaranteed Nix would be working with kids as part the process to stay on the team).
After all, leaders are not born of nothing, leaders are made through adversity and standing tall when things get hard.
Even Mateen Cleaves fell in his career, getting an MIP in 1998 -- and no one would question his leadership at Michigan State. It's no wonder he showed up with many other former Spartans at the news conference Thursday to support Nix -- if anyone understands what he can become after this mistake, it might be Cleaves.
So, while Nix's life has changed by this mistake, the change can easily be turned to a positive in not only his life, but the lives of those around him. The desire to work through this, and past this, was most evident in his tearful apology. It is something to see a man of his stature cry, and in this case, it is something that shows a genuine desire to change and be defined for growth, not failure.
People are so often defined by their mistakes, but make no mistake (pun intended) -- he will not be defined by this mistake.
Nix finished the statement with which this post started ...
"One bad decision can change a person's life ... but with coaches, former players, friends and family, I was given a second chance to come back and finish my basketball career and I just want to say thank you all."