Baylor Basketball Player Grew Up in The Woods

John Rich

The #2 ranked Baylor Bears take on the #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs today at 1pm. Baylor is a legitimate national championship contended under coach Scott Drew. They’re long, they’re athletic, and they have a deep bench. But, coming off that bench for the Bears this year is a different type of player. His name is Matthew Mayer, and believe it or not, he grew up in the woods.

Matthew Mayer – Baylor Bears – #24


Matthew Mayer, a 20-year-old Junior at Baylor University, was born into a post-9/11 world in Austin, TX. His father John Mayer (not that John Mayer but swear to god that’s his name) was a true woodsman. Matthew and his father shared a love for 2 things, basketball, and the great outdoors.

One warm Texas morning in August, John Mayer woke up his son Matthew for an impromptu hunting trip. Matthew was set to start his Freshman year at Westlake High School the following week. John told him that he wanted to get one last father/son bonding trip in before the school year started. Matthew was excited, he loved hunting with his dad. The summer in Texas is Javelina season, and Matthew had never bagged himself a Javelina before. They packed their belongings and headed east to the Sam Houston National Forest.

Javelinas in the wild


After 3 hours of driving, the Mayer’s parked their car on an abandoned road just outside the woods. It was John’s secret hunting spot that he was finally ready to share with his son. They walked over a mile into the woods until they were finally ready to set up camp. Matthew had just began setting things up when John realized he had forgot his binoculars in the car. Javelina’s can be hard to spot, so binoculars are a must. John decided he would go back to the car to grab them while Matthew continued setting up camp.

Matthew finished setting up camp. He knew his dad would be proud of his work. Being an experienced hunter, Matthew covered himself in feces while he waited for father to return. After 2 full hours, John had yet to return. Matthew, covered in feces, began to worry. What could be taking him so long? Is he hurt? Was he attacked by a bear or a javelina? Matthew walked over to their necessities kit where his dad put their cell phones, along with everything else they would need to survive a weekend in the woods. To Matthew’s surprise, when he opened the bag, he found only 2 things. A basketball, and a handwritten note.


Dear Matthew,

If you are reading this you are probably wondering where I am. I can assure you, I am at Whataburger. I can also assure you that I am not coming back. It is time for you to become a man. Look around you. The woods is your home now. Nature is your high school. The dirt is your father, and your mother is the trees. Your enemies are the bears that heavily populate this area. Also, the guns have no ammo.  




Matthew spent the next 4 years of his life making one with nature and mastering the game of basketball. His father had taught him well. Matthew had all the requisite skills to live a life in the woods. For the first year, he would wake up every day and bathe in a nearby creek. He spent his mornings foraging for berries. He crafted a bow and arrow out of sticks that he used to hunt squirrel. Once he had his fill of berries and squirrel, it would be time for basketball.

Dribbling, shooting, passing, lay-ups, slam dunks – Matthew did them all. After a year of practicing on his own, he was approached by a bear for the first time. The bear was hungry and charged him. In an incredible feat of strength, Matthew squared up with the bear and punched him directly in the nose. They went blow for blow in a fist fight for the next hour until the bear had nothing left. He could have killed the bear right there and had food for the next year, but Matthew had a better idea. He had earned the respect of the bear. He welcomed the bear into his camp. Turns out his father was wrong; the bears were not his enemies after all. This bear’s name was Sanchez, and they quickly became best friends.

Matthew no longer had to spend his time hunting for food. Sanchez would retrieve a fresh Javelina for Matthew every morning. Matthew was more than just surviving, he was putting on the weight he needed to become a D-1 athlete. With Sanchez doing the hunting, he had even more time for basketball.

As luck would have it, Sanchez was no stranger to the game of basketball either. His father had taught him the game at a young age as well. Sanchez even did a stint in the circus back in 96’.

A young Sanchez


Sanchez quickly took on the role of Matthew’s basketball coach. The two friends would play one-on-one for hours every day. Sanchez would put him through various drills. They worked tirelessly on Matthew’s low post moves, the area of the game he needed help with most. Sanchez was a stickler for practicing with your off-hand. He forced Matthew to use nothing but his left hand for an entire year. Once Matthew was ready, Sanchez went out and recruited enough of his bear friends from around the forest to start the Sam Houston National Forest Basketball Association.

On Tuesday and Saturday nights, Matthew would lead a team of bears against another team of bears. Playing basketball against bears was grueling. His first year they missed the playoffs. His second year ended in a devastating 2OT loss in the semi-finals. But finally, in his Senior season, Matthew led his bears to the SHNFBA Championship.

After the championship game, it was finally time for Matthew to leave the woods. He said a tearful goodbye to Sanchez and all of his bear friends. The bears had shown Matthew a kindness he didn’t think existed in the world. They had truly become his family. He promised to honor their memory with every game he played.

Matthew emerged from the woods a 6’9”, 225lbs basketball star. He walked directly to the closest Whataburger where his father was there waiting. He had never left. Sitting next to his father was Duke Blue Devils’ Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski. They drove to the nearest gym and Matthew showed off what he had learned. Krzyzewski was sold. He had to have him on his team. In typical Coach K fashion, he offered Matthew $500,000 cash, and unlimited hookers to attend Duke University. But Matthew had other plans. It wasn’t about money for him. It was about the beautiful game of basketball and fulfilling a promise he made to Sanchez. He would play for one team and one team only – The Baylor Bears.

Now in his Junior year at Baylor, thanks to the woods, Matthew Mayer is making an impact. Can he help lead the Bears to a championship once again? Only time will tell.




Twitter: @JohnRichTV





Photo Creds:

https://www. / news/2016/04/21/brown-bear-plays-basketball-in-front-of-amazed-tourists /

https://www. /news/article-4364504/Circus-bears-forced-tricks-Shriners-Hospitals.html

https:// www .pinterest. com /pin/507992032973597146/

https://www.nbcdfw. com/news/sports /baylor-head-mens-basketball-coach -tests-positive-for-covid-19/2487111/

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