It’s never too late to rekindle your first love.
That’s the case for former National Football League (NFL) player Devin Funchess, who decided to leave behind his professional football career to join Statham Academy and play hoops—his childhood passion.
The 29-year-old Funchess, who was selected 41st overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2015 NFL Draft, is part of the 13-man lineup that Statham Academy sent for the 2023 Corsa Tires Asiabasket Dasmariñas Championship as he looks to ignite a career in basketball.
“I was blessed with an opportunity from Taylor (Statham) and basketball has always been my number one passion so falling back in love with basketball has been beautiful,” Funchess said.
“This is my first professional appearance in basketball so let’s see, it’s not a contact sport so it’s going to be fun. It’s been beautiful and I just can’t wait to get to play with the team.”
The 6-foot-4 Funchess suited up for four seasons with the Panthers before spending the next four years in various teams, including the Indiana Colts, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and most recently, the Detroit Lions, although he would only join the club as a practice player in the preseason.
Funchess, who played both as wide reciever and tight end, had his best season in 2017, where he logged 63 receptions while also listing 840 yards, and eight touchdowns in 16 games played. The Panthers finished with an 11-5 win-loss record during that season.
But while he made a name for himself in the NFL, Funchess always knew he wanted to do something more. And it all started with one message from Statham Academy founder Taylor Statham.
“Taylor actually DMed me on Instagram and then from there we just moved on. I flew out to LA and just started working out with the team,” Funchess added.
Funchess and Statham Academy announced their Asiabasket arrival in style, dealing the MisOr Mustangs a 21-point romp after eking out a 117-96 victory with Statham dropping a huge double-double outing of 40 points and 24 rebounds spiked with six assists, two steals, and one block.
Funchess chipped in 10 markers as well as seven boards.
With this golden opportunity to play basketball, Funchess also eyes seeing action in the NBA someday.
“The goal is the NBA and you know, get a few seasons over there just like I did in the NFL. Just to be able to compete against the best players in the world is a blessing to me,” he said.