While he may have grown up playing basketball with his five brothers, by the time high school graduation rolled around, Bernard James was ready to make a direct leap to a different sort of association—the United States Air Force. Describing himself at age seventeen as “kind of like a nerd a little bit,” James' discipline and interest in science made him a good fit for the military. While serving his country, James used his free time to hone his game. The hard work at the gym paid off. He was eventually able to score a basketball scholarship to Florida State University.

James has spent two years now in the NBA, but the core value of “service before self” that he picked up in the military still resonates throughout his second career. Whether he's putting his team before individual accolades, or using his downtime for volunteering and community outreach, James embodies this message. One particular service organization that is very close to James’ heart, and one that he gives his time to at every opportunity, is Carry The Load, a non-profit that provides to veterans.

Because of the time he devoted to military service, James is older than the typical third-year player, so he knows that the season ahead will be challenging. Nonetheless, you cannot beat this guy for can-do attitude. To hear more from a unique athlete, both on and off the court, check out the video above.