ENTERING his 36th year, San Miguel guard Chris Ross looked back on the toughest of times he experienced over the past few months.
His birthdate, March 9, is one of the last 'normal' days before the world caved in to the coronavirus pandemic -which signified one of the darkest moments in the recent history of mankind.
Almost a year into it, people of different cultures and nationalities each had stories to tell, Chris shared his version on his birthday.
"I learned to never take life for granted, and to love your loved ones because things can change instantly. I learned to say yes to spontaneous trips. I learned to love with my whole heart. I learned to spend as much time with your family as you can 'cause life is short," he wrote on Instagram.
Ross' family is based in the States, so, it has been his routine to go back-and-forth to visit them occasionally since he made it to the PBA in 2009.
Due to the pandemic, however, traveling was made harder.
The 6-foot-1 guard, of course, had to sacrifice being physically present to attend to his parents, in order to continue his athletic career in the Philippines.
Come 2021, he's faced with even tougher challenges.
"My parents had COVID scares, and I had to leave their side and come back to work while they were dealing with complications. [It] is the most scared I've been in my life. Then, a snow storm hit and I wasn't there with them while most people went without power and water," he said.
On top of the worrisome circumstance, he lost a friend and his dog.
"I'm learning to let go. I've lost my best friend of the last seven years which was heartbreaking," he said. "A friend of mine died heroically saving someone from a car accident. My sister-in-law miraculously survived an 18-wheeler car accident but her life is forever changed."
Ross continued: "[This], mixed with the uncertainty of the game I have loved since I was 4, has taken a major toll on me mentally. All of this, in just a matter of two months."
Amid the trials and tribulations, he kept going - drawing inspiration from the people who made him feel loved.
And after getting delayed for 13 years, he finally got himself a college diploma, a degree in business management and marketing.
Ross shared that he's long been chasing that milestone after he lost his college scholarship in 2007.
"It was something that I wanted to do when I was in school. But my scholarship was taken away because my coach was fired and the new coach came in, and used my scholarship for the new players since my playing eligibility was over," he told SPIN Life, recalling the old times.
"Although this year hasn't started the way I would like, it's going in the right direction as I have finally completed school and earned my degree from Marshall University... It was a promise I made not only to myself, but my parents as well," he said. "When my playing career is over, I want to start my own business helping the youth and the less fortunate."
But that's for later.
As of now, he's focused on making the best out of his professional career as the new PBA season is nearing.
"I'm working as hard as I've ever worked to get myself physically strong and eventually the mental part will catch up," he said. "It's definitely been a huge sacrifice for me but I'm doing what I love and I'm grateful."
Ross also spilled a gentle reminder for everyone to be extra kind, especially in these times.
"Being nice to people shouldn't be something that has to be told or asked of. We should all spread happiness because we have no clue what people are going through in their personal lives or in their lives outside what is portrayed on social media or at work," he added.