Friday, June 21, 2024

Dream with Your Eyes Open: Seth Towns

The NCAA's most accomplished collegiate athlete

Acclaimed collegiate athlete, Seth Towns, 26, at Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts, on the campus of his current school, Howard University.Harmony Bailey
Acclaimed collegiate athlete, Seth Towns, 26, at Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts, on the campus of his current school, Howard University. Photo by Harmony Bailey

*”Dream with your eyes open” is a golden nugget Seth Towns heard from his mentor while studying at Harvard, and he has shown us all that he’s been dreaming with his eyes wide open ever since.

Seth Towns is an impressive young Black intellectual who has accomplished far beyond the average 26-year-old. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and a Master of Science from Ohio State all while being a Student-Athlete.

Seth has had a very successful career on and off the court, and through many trials and tribulations, he came out on the other side maintaining resilience. After earning his Master’s degree he still had one year of eligibility left to continue his NCAA collegiate basketball career.

Seth chose to use his last year of eligibility at none other than the illustrious Howard University. He is currently a Small Forward on the Howard University Men’s Basketball team and a student once again.

Upon first glance, you may see a guy who is 6’8 and plays basketball, but there is much more to Towns than meets the eye. Towns learned a lot from his time at Harvard and Ohio State, but three lessons were prominent.

A sense of Deja Vu strikes, Seth Towns, 26, as he visits The Black Lives Matter Plaza, in Washington D.C. and is reminded of the day he went to jail protesting the cause he was fighting for..Photo by Harmony Bailey
A sense of Deja Vu strikes, Seth Towns, 26, as he visits The Black Lives Matter Plaza, in Washington D.C. and is reminded of the day he went to jail protesting the cause he was fighting for.. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr, Memorial Library. He gets lost in the pages of the story, as he creates his own.Photos by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr, Memorial Library. He gets lost in the pages of the story, as he creates his own. Photo by Harmony Bailey

First, Seth realized he should’ve been at an HBCU all along, which influenced a decision that came quite easily to him. There was no question when it came down to Howard for the school that would get to withdraw his last year of basketball. He describes Howard as a place “for Black intellect, Black culture, Black diversity, and Black imagination.”

Towns highlights the incredible thinkers Mecca has produced and how every day he is walking on the foundation of history. “Howard is a black dream, the light of which I am basking in,” a conclusion through a lens that is truly inspiring.

The second lesson he took away was that “Knowledge is knowledge, no matter where it is acquired.” It is not hard to see that Seth carries himself to be a lifelong learner, and he will always recommend a great book when he has the chance. Last, but not least is to “Dream with your eyes open,” which is a “golden nugget” he got from his mentor Harry Edwards during his time at Harvard.

Literature is very important to Seth Towns, 26, so he spent his first time at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library well. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Literature is very important to Seth Towns, 26, so he spent his first time at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library well. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, brought his favorite books to The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. His collection included "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston; a book that was on display at the library. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, brought his Top 3 books to The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. His collection included “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston; a book that was on display at the library. Photo by Harmony Bailey

Seth has been injured twice in his collegiate basketball career and at a point he thought he would never play the game he so dearly loves again. He says that his biggest collegiate achievement is being able to return to play at this level after essentially five years of injury.

As he was injured his patience was tested in a way that has never been tested before. Towns’ injuries humbled him more than anything has in his life. He realized that everything in life can immediately come to a halt, everything, not waiting for anyone.

Seth Towns, 26, exercising some of his many talents, at The Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts, on the campus of Howard University.Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, exercising some of his many talents, at The Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts, on the campus of Howard University. Photo by Harmony Bailey

Seth’s perspective outlines that, “it was a message to me that I am a man who, every day, wears the risk of termination,” and maintaining this outlook has been his greatest area of growth throughout his injury. Some advice he would give any aspiring college basketball player is “The Great Balancing Act” in which states to “Be profoundly grateful for every moment you get on the basketball court, but understand it isn’t your entire life. Play the game with intense passion, and smell the tulips across the street on the walk home.”

This young man has gone through a lot of adversity in his basketball career and has managed to navigate the challenging situations he has encountered while staying positive through it all. Seth believes that “it is History that teaches us that one’s legacy, the narrative of one’s existence, is limited to those who carry the power to tell the story.”

He isn’t quite interested in the legacy he leaves behind as he notes, the stories often contain errors. His only wish is “to live right by God, and pursue the truth, no matter how difficult.” Seth Towns absorbed a lot from basketball, but it is remarkable to see how he has applied his skills off the court.

Life while being a young Black man in America had instilled values in Seth that would lead him to life-changing events. On the night of his virtual graduation from Harvard, he saw that the city of Columbus had its first “BLM” protest. He learned about it too late and was upset, so he decided to reach out to some people to see if there’d be another one. 

Towns was informed that there would be one the next day outside of the police station downtown. With no hesitation, he got dressed and was on his way, alone. Not even two seconds after his arrival he was overwhelmed by the scene of the riots.

Seth Towns, 26, at The Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts recommending you all the book "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau.Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, at The Banneker Recreation Center basketball courts recommending you all the book “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, standing on the street named after the movement he protested for in 2020. The Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington, D.C. Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, standing on the street named after the movement he protested for in 2020. The Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington, D.C. Photo by Harmony Bailey

There was a wall of police suited in riot gear standing in front of the building. Around 200 protesters poured into the street, looking toward the officers, while “crying out the names of our dead sisters” and “the last words of our dead brothers.” Seth and fellow protestors eventually took over the street, weaving through the cars while their pain grew more intense together.

The police ordered them to clear the street, but fighting for justice meant way more than holding up traffic. As he continued to resist the officers and protest, about five minutes later, Seth found himself surrounded by six police officers informing him that he was under arrest.

He was first to be arrested, and as the handcuffs tightened he began to shout, “Say his name!” to which other protesters replied with “George Floyd.” While Towns was getting arrested car horns were wailing, protestors were shouting to push back on Seth’s arrest and the sirens of police cars grew louder.

Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. reading one of his Top 3 books, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston.
Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. reading one of his Top 3 books, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Photo by Harmony Bailey

Then, the cops walked Seth to the back of the police van where he immediately reflected on what just occurred, while still overflowing with the spirit that ushered him there. From that moment on, Towns realized that his life would now be permanently changed.

He was then taken to a holding center and sat about for 5 hours before he was placed on the bus headed to the county. Seth’s uncle, a pastor who works meticulously with the local government in Columbus, Ohio, appeared outside of the window. It was by the grace of God, the officer came to get Seth off the bus and anything he was charged for, was dropped. He associates Black power most with self-determination. Towns expresses that, “intrinsic to black history is the white heel under which we continue to struggle.”

 Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Two change makers are staring at each other.Photo by Harmony Bailey
Seth Towns, 26, at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Two change makers are staring at each other. Photo by Harmony Bailey

Protesting for a movement such as “Black Lives Matter” was a no-brainer for him as he feels that social justice comes down to having a heart. Fighting for justice individually is beneficial, but fighting as a society will move mountains. Towns mentions that “the standing of social justice in any society represents the level of care that society has for its members.” He was motivated and willing to take that extra step, stemming from the empathy and hope that he had for a shattered system. 

Seth’s biggest role model on the basketball court is the late legend Kobe Bryant. He describes Kobe as “personifying peak excellence through willpower,” something Seth has also been able to embody.

Off-the-court role models for him include Zora Neale Hurston, Frantz Fanon, Henry David Thoreau, and Da Vinci because of his “outstanding curiosity and all the places it led him”. Towns’ journey is a testament to resilience as he has never allowed circumstances to define his potential. Whether he was touching the court or not Seth has made every moment count for what it is worth. Reading and Literature also played a significant role in Seth’s life as knowledge is very important to him.

His favorite books include titles by some of his heroes, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, “The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon, and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. Most of the time that Seth Towns is recognized, it is mainly quantitative information like his age, basketball stats, awards, and years in counting.

It was time for someone to focus on the qualitative traits that Seth’s presence and story had to offer. His basketball skills are stellar and they speak for themselves, but his commitment to making a positive impact both on and off the court speaks volumes as well. Using his platform as a collegiate D1 basketball player to advocate for important matters, such as social change, is not often seen. Towns’ has a combination of athletic talent and activism, which has made him a very respected figure in the basketball world.

Upon meeting Seth Towns, one might question whether his most impressive talents lie on the court or off the court, but he has exemplified that the potential for sports is headed on the right path. To be a force for positivity, beyond the game itself.

Harmony Bailey
Harmony Bailey

Harmony Bailey is a student journalist at Howard University. You can contact her via her Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/harmonylovemedia/

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