Renaldo Woolridge #0
Renaldo Woolridge wrote in his blog that he's erasing his "Swiper Boy" rapper image, and in doing so, leaving an outlet that helped him overcome thoughts of killing himself.
A 6-foot-9 senior forward on Tennessee's men's basketball team, Woolridge is expected to compete for playing time this season. He's coming off an injury-plagued junior season that saw him appear in nine games and average a career-low 1.6 points.
"The past three years specifically have made the biggest and made some of the most difficult imprints in my life,'' Woolridge wrote on "Swiperboy's World" posted on Sunday. "I wanted to give everything up. Some of the things I endured are things most people in my position should never have to deal with ... but I did.
"I've felt alone, confused, disappointment, hurt and a true lack of belief in the world.''
Music, Woolridge explained in the blog, has helped him deal with such letdowns.
"I began doing music when I was 8 (years old) as an emotional release,'' said the 21-year-old Woolridge, the son of former NBA all-star Orlando Woolridge. "I went through a lot of things in my life that have troubled me emotionally. There have been times when I've contemplated things like suicide, going insane, or giving up all hope.
"However, through faith, God was able to put Music into my life to keep me out of harms way.''
UT coach Cuonzo Martin, who's in China serving as an assistant coach with the USA Basketball Men's Junior National team, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. He has taken the same stance on Woolridge's music as the previous staff.
"There's a time and a place for it.'' Martin said shortly after being hired on March 27.
Apparently, that time and place doesn't include the upcoming fall camp or basketball season. UT begins classes on Aug. 17, and the Vols start individual workouts the following week.
Woolridge, however, didn't mention basketball as one of the reasons for him leaving his musical outlet.
"In all honesty I feel extremely under appreciated when it comes to the talent I was given more music,'' Woolridge penned.
Woolridge made it clear he didn't agree with his critics.
"I am the best new rapper; I have to say new because for whatever reason mainstream America wants to continue to sleep on me and consider me as such,'' Woolridge wrote.
"I will go bar for bar, punchline for punchline, swag for swag, with anyone in the game.''
Former UT associate head coach Tony Jones said the former staff expected Woolridge to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the SEC when they signed him out of Harvard-Westlake School, a private college prep school outside of Los Angeles in Studio City, Calif.
"When Renaldo was recruited out of Westlake High School, we thought if he focused solely on basketball he would be a very productive player,'' said Jones, the primary recruiter for Woolridge, who was ranked by Rivals.com as the 53rd overall player in the Class of 2008.
"Obviously, with the distraction of rapping, he hasn't reached his full potential,'' said Jones, now the coach at Alcoa High School. "Now we'll see if his projected talents come to fruition.''