Hooper-turned-trainer Jhayde Zamora adapts his love for the game

In the summer of 2018, Anchorage hooper Jhayde Zamora’s basketball journey took a turn for the worst.

“I tore my ACL. I was laying on the ground with my eyes closed and everything was black and I heard a voice say ‘are you good? Somebody get this man a chair and some ice,’” Zamora said.

Jhayde Zamora (right) poses with NBA player Jamal Crawford (middle) before the Crossover league tryout in the summer of 2018. Photo courtesy of Jhayde Zamora’s Instagram.

That voice was NBA player Jamal Crawford. During the tryout for Crawford’s pro-amateur league, The Crossover, Zamora suffered the first major injury of his basketball career.

“I was humbled because Jamal Crawford actually took my hand and helped me up — an NBA player with some of the greatest handles ever [helped me up]. We were talking and [Crawford] told me ‘you got handles, bro.’ I was like ‘what? Jamal Crawford told me I had handles?’ The person with some of the best handles to ever play the game said I had handles. That’s something I can tell my kids someday,” Zamora said.

Born and raised in Anchorage, Zamora has been playing basketball since he was 5 years old. His childhood was spent playing for travel teams, local leagues and with his siblings in their driveway.

Injuries have since sidelined Zamora away from the game that he grew up loving. However, since his ACL tear, Zamora has focused on his mental health and allowed his love for basketball as a player to adapt.

This grew into the “Get Better Daily” initiative — a social media movement, started by Zamora and his best friend Dondres McMorris, centered around the narrative of improving daily in basketball and in life.

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Zamora attended West Anchorage High School, where he graduated from in 2014. Zamora recalls his playing career for the West Eagles as one of turbulence.

During his junior and senior years on West’s varsity team, Zamora struggled with his love for the game and his confidence playing within West’s system.

“To be honest, I would not have called myself the most confident individual [while playing on the varsity team in high school]. I would put work in and I’d be the hardest worker on the squad, but come game time, I just wasn’t confident in myself,” Zamora said.

After high school, Zamora didn’t have any scholarship offers to play college basketball. He chose to attend Impact Basketball, a basketball prep school in Las Vegas that has churned out plenty of NBA stars like Kevin Garnett and Kawhi Leonard.

After eight months of playing at Impact, Zamora received a partial scholarship from Fort Lewis College in Durango, where he did not see any playing time due to his redshirt status.

Jhayde Zamora pulls up for a jump-shot against Olympic College during his sophomore season at Edmonds. Photo courtesy of Jhayde Zamora’s Instagram.

While at Fort Lewis, however, Zamora kept in contact with some other schools — leading him to transfer to Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington in the fall of 2016. Zamora played two seasons for the Tritons before graduating in the spring of 2018 with a general associate’s degree.

That summer after graduating, Zamora sustained the aforementioned ACL tear at the tryout for the Crossover league — the first major injury of his career.

“That [tryout] was one of my last shots as far as the ultimate goal of playing professionally goes,” Zamora said.

The injury and subsequent surgery led Zamora back to Alaska to live with his family.

While recovering, Zamora struggled with depression regarding his uncertain future involving basketball. However, upon reflecting during his recovery period, Zamora buckled down and decided to put everything he had into his rehab.

“That was the lowest of the lows of my life I guess you could say,” Zamora said.

After two ACL tears, Jhayde Zamora is back on track to make a full recovery. Photo by Joey Carreon.

Zamora’s quick revelation came at a cost, however. In March of 2019, Zamora tore the same ACL again during a training session with his brother.

“The doctors were telling me it was going to take 9-12 months to recover, but I was telling myself I was gonna be back in nine months. So I kinda rushed the process,” Zamora said.

After the second ACL tear, Zamora adopted the mentality of taking his recovery day-by-day without putting unrealistic expectations on himself.

“I would get a lot of personal growth books to help me with the process and look up YouTube videos on how to stay patient. I was really just itching for knowledge on how to go about this process,” Zamora said.

While rehabbing his own knee, Zamora began to train his little brother, JR, who was in middle school at the time. Zamora often spent hours in the gym with his crutches beside him, coaching JR while sitting on the floor.

Along with JR, Zamora trained West High School students, including senior Liam Fick and junior Wiley Pickett, multiple times a week.

Nowadays, Zamora’s clientele includes more than just his little brother and friends. Parents even began paying Zamora to train their kids.

“I don’t charge [kids] because it’s all for the love of the game,” Zamora said. “Plus, I’m still on my journey as far as learning the game, so I don’t feel entitled to charge anybody as of right now. If I don’t help you get money from what I do, I’m not charging. This is solely me teaching you how to train and how to change your perspective on things.”

While Zamora doesn’t charge, he has plans to start a basketball training business under the name Get Better Daily. But for now, Zamora is happy to see his friends improve and accept donations from parents from time to time.

“As a brand and as a business, I hope to become the No. 1 training program, as far as basketball skill development goes, in the state of Alaska… As far as GBD goes, I know that if you come and train with me, you’re going to improve. We’re in the building stages as far as this brand goes — and we’re just getting started.” Zamora said.

With Zamora’s clients now entering pivotal points of their high school careers, he is looking forward to seeing their early mornings in the gym pay off. Not only does Zamora believe their basketball skills have improved, but that their minds have sharpened as well.

Reflecting on his own basketball journey and how it has led him to training, Zamora hopes to instill in his students the same sense of fearlessness and confidence when it comes to tackling obstacles.

“Failures are just an illusion. Anything negative is an illusion. The only way I see it is that negative words like failure are just progression towards truth… It’s a part of the process. It’s a part of the grind. It’s a part of whatever you do what you do. I don’t see failures as something bad because there’s no such thing as losses, only learning,” Zamora said.

Players of all skill levels interested in working with Zamora can reach him via his Instagram.