It has been quite the decade for former Texas Tech forward Tariq Owens. Before he helped Texas Tech get to the national championship game, his basketball career started when he was going into ninth grade.
"He told me he wanted to play basketball. I told him to sleep on it for 24 hours and let me know you're serious," Tariq's father Renard said. "When he told me he was serious I told him we weren't stopping."
Tariq got cut from the JV team early in his basketball journey, then his father started training him year-round.
Then in 2010 his mother, Cassandra, died of pancreatic cancer. Basketball became much more for Tariq.
"With my mom being sick that was my outlet and my way to get away from things," Owens said.
"He was so close to his mother," Renard Owens said. "He stopped communicating while she was going through chemo and radiation and it was a tough time for me and my family. Basketball saved my son. He needed something to get his mind off of things."
Tariq's bond with his father grew more through basketball.
"I would get off the phone and my friends would ask who I was talking to. I said it was my dad and they wouldn't believe me. They thought it was my best friend or something and I said he is but he's also my dad," Owens said.
"If he played really well, it was a great conversation because he's upbeat and hates losing. If he didn't, it's real short," Renard said.
After college, he eventually signed a two-way contract with the Suns. Through it all, he continues to show gratitude to his college coach.
"I owe a lot to Beard with how I think and how I do things now. He's always going to be special to me and a big influence to me," Owens said.
"That guy is special. He's wired different," Chris Beard said. "I think he'll be a long-time NBA player because I know what's in his heart."
Tariq doesn't take the court without thinking about the promise he made to his mother before she passed away.
"Sitting in the room with her, I made a promise. I told her as long as I can play basketball I will take it as far as I can go," Owens said.
Owens is now in Lubbock, training and waiting for the NBA season to resume.