Jonesboro-Hodge High School alum, Asante Belton, had already seen one dream become a reality. Now another that goes beyond what he had ever hoped for has also reached fruition. On May 20th, Belton became what is believed to be the first Jackson Parish native to be a member of a professional championship winning team when his East Houston United team won the National Basketball League title.
To win a championship at any level is quite an achievement but to do so on a professional level is something only a very few ever accomplish. To say it is remarkable is an understatement but even this fails in comparison to Belton even getting the chance to be in this position.
“I was born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD),” reflects Belton. “The doctors told my parents I probably wouldn’t live past the age of five.”
What the doctors didn’t know was that while his heart was weak, Belton’s will to survive was stronger and he refused to let the reality of his medical condition destroy the dream he had of growing up to play the game he loved.
“What I remember about Asante is that he never really got the chance to play a full year due to his condition but whenever he was healthy enough he would be there for practice,” said JHHS head coach Allen Tew in a 2021 interview with the Jackson Parish Journal. “Even though he knew that he wasn’t going to play he would still come to practice and give it all he had.”
After graduating high school in 2014 Belton continued to work hard. Through a continued regiment of medicines and a monitored diet he started adding weight to his 5’7″ frame. The stronger he got, the more encouraged he became that maybe one day he could achieve his dream.
“I knew I had been given an opportunity that so many others with my condition didn’t have,” said Belton. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Not just being able to play ball but be alive. It made me more passionate about pursuing my goal of playing professionally.”
In 2017 his dream came true when he earned a spot on the Alexandria Armor of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Belton played in two games and didn’t score a point. Still he had reached his goal. Was that enough? Not hardly. Now that he had achieved one plateau he set his sights on more loftier goals.
In 2019 Belton earned a roster spot with the Baton Rouge Timberwolves of the United Basketball Association (UBA) as a backup point guard. All the while he was growing stronger inside and out. In 2020 and now packing a solid 180 pounds he joined the Baytown Bobcats of the NBL-US where it all finally came together. Belton not only moved into the starting lineup he started producing gigantic numbers, including his 36 point career high effort in the 2020 playoffs.
“It is kind of hard to believe that after all the surgeries and setbacks when I was young that now I am healthy as an ox and not only making a living doing what I love, but being on a championship winning team” said Belton.
When not playing Belton uses his time in an attempt to inspire young boys and girls. This past year you could find him on the sidelines at the Jonesboro-Hodge Middle School as a volunteer football coach and at JHHS where he assisted with the basketball teams.
“My hope is that my journey inspires others who have it hard coming up or have adversities that they have to overcome,” said Belton. “My message is DON’T GIVE UP! I don’t care if you don’t have money, support or even good health, as long as you don’t give up on your dream and keep your faith, you will succeed.”
The National Basketball League is a unique American based Exposure League. It is designed to bridge the gap between USA, Asia, Caribbean, African and European basketball, in order to provide opportunities for professional players to showcase their talent on a global platform, which is the next goal Belton hopes to achieve.
There is an old saying that the past is often times a predictor of the future. What you want to bet Belton already has gotten his passport.