Former Long County High School standout Ricky Rivera recently signed a contract to play professional basketball in South America.
Rivera signed with the Club Cafeteros, which is in Armenia, Colombia. He signed his contract March 19 and played his first game Friday against Manizales Caldas. Rivera saw some action as Cafeteros won 96-70.
As of Tuesday, according to basketball.latinbasket.com, Rivera has appeared in two games and averaged of 3.5 points per contest.
On Thursday, Rivera told the Courier that playing basketball professionally is a dream come true.
“It still doesn’t even feel real to me right now, but it will tomorrow when the announcer calls out my name,” he said. “This is just a dream come true, especially coming from Long County. I just want to go up from here.”
Rivera, who also excelled in football, helped lead the Blue Tide to the Region 2-AA championship in 2008.
In 2010, he received a scholarship to play basketball for Middle Georgia College. After two years there, he played two seasons at Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina.
Rivera told the Courier via Facebook on Tuesday that he marketed himself until somebody contacted him about a team in Colombia. His agent got involved and found another team in the same league that wanted to pay more, so he went there instead. He said he previously attended a camp in Houston for a league in Mexico that was more for exposure.
Rivera offered advice to current and future high-school students on pursuing their dreams.
“Never give up on what you love, whether it’s your dreams or whatever,” he said. “If you say you’re going to do something, don’t just talk about it — be about it. It doesn’t matter where you go to school; it matters what you do while you’re there. Be better tomorrow than you were today.”
Rivera attributed much of his success to the small-town values that he learned while living in Long County.
“I love my town of Ludowici. It’s what made me who I am today,” said Rivera.
Those wanting to follow Rivera’s career can find him on Facebook or Twitter as Ricardo Rivera.
The Courier staff contributed to this article.