TCU senior Amric Fields already has one plan for life after basketball. He’s going to go to Haiti a lot.
Not to play or coach, necessarily.
But to see the people he has gotten to know, especially one little boy, in five previous trips.
“It’s changed my life. I don’t think I’ll ever miss a year of going,” he said.
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Fields, a senior forward who is 11 points shy of 1,000 for his career at TCU, has been making trips to Haiti with his Oklahoma City church since he was 18. He never thought it would become a habit.
“The youth leader and I became close, and one day he said, ‘You know, we go to Haiti every year, I was just wondering if you’d like to go,’ ” Fields said, remembering with a smile. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, that really doesn’t sound like something I want to do,’ — you know, no air conditioning, bugs. I said, “How about I just send some money? Some money will help.’
“He was like, ‘No, you’ve got to go. It’ll change your life.’ I got convinced. After that first year, I promised myself I would never miss a year.”
Fields can’t miss his moments with a now 9-year-old boy whose friendship he treasures. They had a connection from the start, Fields said.
“I think he came up to me because I was tall,” Fields said. “We were walking through the village, and he came up to me. I picked him up, kind of played with him a little bit. Some other people tried to pick him up, but he was like, ‘No, no.’ He just wanted to stay with me all the time. We became closer and closer.”
The experience of helping teach Bible school and visiting towns and villages in the country also made a connection with Fields.
“You can see commercials, and you can see the ‘Feed the Kids’ stuff and all that, but once you see it first-hand, it’s really moving,” he said. “It doesn’t do it justice on TV. You won’t see anything like it ever.”
Fields said he’s not pushy about trying to get anyone else to go, but he does talk to teammates and others about how it has benefitted him.
“It makesyou grateful for the little things that you do have,” he said. “Sometimes I catch myself getting caught up on spending my money on clothes I really don’t need or the new phone that just came out when I have a phone that works and then I’m broke for the next week,” he said. “But one of our youth leaders talks about how you’re not supposed to feel guilty about what you do have. God has blessed you with stuff that you do have. It just puts everything into perspective.”
From a basketball perspective, Fields has helped the Horned Frogs (17-12, 4-12), who take on Oklahoma State (17-11, 7-9) on Wednesday, win three of their past five games, averaging 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in that stretch. It is the most productive string of games for the 6-foot-9 forward this season, which began with him missing the first four games as he recovered from the second of two microfracture surgeries in his right knee. He has also rehabbed from surgery to repair torn ligaments and a meniscus tear.
“I had five surgeries in a year and a half,” he said. “It was really frustrating because once you feel like you’re back, all of a sudden you get injured again. You get to playing again, and something doesn’t feel right. They do exploratory surgery and they find something again. You rehab again. After a while, you wonder, ‘Am I ever going to get to play?’ I’m blessed right now to be able to play.”
Fields has not returned to the form of his sophomore, when he was the sixth man of the year in TCU’s last season in the Mountain West Conference. He only played in three games as a junior because of a ligament tear.
He could have set basketball aside after that.
“My mom is real sensitive to me being hurt. She was telling me, ‘You don’t have to play, you don’t have to prove anything to anybody,’” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m not playing to prove anything. I’m playing because I love the game. I can’t picture just stopping. I feel like I have a little more to give. I’m not finished giving what I can to basketball.”
Not yet. Not to TCU basketball or anything else.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407
TCU men at Oklahoma State
8 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU