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Meet the Warriors: Hiram Thompson

Focus on the journey, not the destination.

If you do that when reviewing the accomplishments of senior point guard Hiram Thompson, it is apparent that he had one of the most fulfilling careers of any player in the Hawaii basketball program.

Thompson is not headed for an NBA career next season, and other Warriors may have put up more impressive statistics and highlights, but none can match the life-changing moments that Thompson has experienced.

Of course, it helps to have had six years to transform.

Thompson first signed to play for Hawaii in 2005. Since then, he has: played for three head coaches as a Warrior; served a two-year church mission in between his freshman and sophomore seasons; got married before his senior season; got a chance to trace some of his roots – meeting Polynesian relatives he had never met until he joined the Hawaii basketball team.

“Looking back on everything, it’s been pretty long and filled with many changes and things like that,” Thompson said. “It’s been a fun ride and I’m gonna miss it. But I look forward to the future and everything. It’s been great. I loved my time here at UH.”

Thompson’s name may not appear in the UH record books – unless you count trips to the hospital. And that should actually count for something.

“I always want to play, that’s what I came here to do,” he said. “You have to pull me off the court to stop me from playing. If something’s up, I’m not going to say anything. The coaches will know and I’ll leave it up to them to take me out. I’m not going to take myself out. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing, but that’s just the way I am. I just want to be out there and play.”

Thompson is a three-year starter at point guard. He has appeared in 93 games during his Hawaii career, and has probably played with some type of injury in 80 percent of those games.

And it hasn’t been one nagging injury that keeps recurring. Thompson’s injuries have ranged from head (concussion) to foot, and seemingly every body part in between. This season alone, Thompson had to make two emergency trips to the hospital – once for a back injury and most recently for an elbow injury.

Through it all, Thompson has been a steadying influence. He took over the starting point guard spot midway through his sophomore season, and has held it ever since – despite an influx of talented recruits brought in specifically to beat him out every year.

He opened this season healthy – and it was reflected when he was named the WAC Player of the Week for the first week of the season. But the injuries eventually caught up to him again, and he is now averaging 8.7 points and 2.7 assists per game.

Although beat up, Thompson has never let the injuries beat him down. Strong faith and family helped him get through it.

Thompson is a member of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints, and served a two-year mission in Iowa after his freshman season at Hawaii. During his mission, he was not allowed to watch television, listen to a radio, or browse the Internet. He learned patience and perseverance – qualities that would help him through his basketball ups and downs.

But perhaps the biggest assists came from his family. Thompson grew up in Sacramento, Calif., but his paternal grandparents live in Laie, so comfort – and a home-cooked meal – was always a cross-island drive away.

“It’s definitely helped just to kind of get away from things here once in a while and just go and be in a family setting,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely a blessing to have family out there.”

Thompson, who has Hawaiian and Samoan ancestry from his father’s side of the family, even got to meet relatives in Laie he never met before.

Prior to this season, his family circle grew by one significant member after he got married in August.

“She takes care of me and it’s great to have her there to support me and I know she feels the same – that I can support her,” he said of his wife, Bridgette, who is a tennis coach at UH. “It’s just great to have someone there to go through life together.”

As if playing through all his injuries and splitting time between husband and basketball player were not impressive enough, Thompson is a double-major business student at UH. He is on track to graduate in May 2012 with majors in Finance and International Business.

“You just try to fit time in your day for everything,” he said. “Basketball, of course, takes up a lot of time, but school and family … there’s always time for that, too.”

Here is a video feature on Thompson, split into two parts …

Part I:

Part II:

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