Breamon Richard just can’t stop smiling. He’s not used to being interviewed in his two years on Long Beach State’s men’s basketball team. His smile is contagious, and he can’t help but be nervous and energetic for another chance to help his team get to the big dance — even if he won’t be on the court much. His career is almost over, with only a week potentially left in the season if the 49ers lose in the Big West tournament, but he’s still as excited as his first day at practice, wearing a Long Beach State jersey.
Started from the bottom
The 5-foot-10-inch guard averages less than six minutes a game this season, but is just happy to be on the team. From trying out as a freshman walk-on, to enrolling at Long Beach City College, to receiving his first ever basketball scholarship in his final semester, Richard has learned that hard work pays off.
“I feel like I’ve started from the very bottom, and now I feel like I’m at the very top and that’s my experience,” Richard said. “I was in so much shock, I didn’t even know how to react, it was surreal. I didn’t expect anything, once I made the team that was all I wanted. When [Monson] blessed me with a scholarship it just reminded me of where I came from.”
The scholarship will cover the Spring 2019 semester and Richard will be refunded for all expenses made to the school in the spring.
“It’s why you get into coaching, to be able to impact kids and be able to reward those who are deserving,” Monson said. “There might be better shooters, taller players and better athletes, but I’ve never had any player with a better attitude than Breamon.”
Like father, like son
Richard’s mother, Briget Richard, can barely recall ever having a problem with her son. She was worried that as a middle child, he would be more rebellious. But he was always respectful.
“There was only one time I ever had a problem with him, and it was in kindergarten when he was on the basketball court when he wasn’t supposed to be,” Briget said, laughing. “It was something that was instinctively in him.”
Richard’s mind was set to become a 49er like his father Ronald Richard, who played basketball for Long Beach State from 1983-84.
The father and son duo were gym rats, playing almost every single day as he was growing up, which helped Breamon extend his work ethic throughout his adolescence.
After finishing up his education at University High School, Richard was accepted into LBSU as a business finance major. In his senior year, he averaged 11.5 points and 1.8 assists a game, but didn’t receive many in state Division 1 offers to play basketball.
A pit stop at LBCC
“I wanted to try out for the team so I went to tryouts, but I was cut,” Richard said. “I just wanted to be a part of the team so Monson offered me a manager job.”
Doubt began to creep in and Richard felt he had to prove to himself that he could still play basketball, so he understood that taking the manager job would help him grow.
His time as a manager was useful, learning what practices sessions were like and what Monson wanted from his players, but Richard itched to get back on the court.
His passion to play led him to LBCC, where he transferred to expand his game. Richard had one goal in mind: play his heart out for the Vikings and become a 49er after two years.
“I took what I learned from Long Beach State and applied it to playing at LBCC,” Richard said. “I was there to evolve my game so I could come back to Long Beach State and earn a scholarship and a spot on the team.”
He averaged 20.4 points and 4.2 assists as a starter for the Vikings, winning two All-Conference honoree awards.
After two years, Richard was sure that he would be called up to join the 49ers, but the call didn’t come when he expected it.
“I ended up calling coach and asked if there were any spots available and all he said was that he still hasn’t gotten his roster together,” Richard said. “I was just waiting and all I could think was, ‘Damn I went to junior college, put up 20 and I’m thinking I should at least be good enough to get a spot.”
A few days later, Monson called Richard to congratulate him — he’d earned a spot on the team.
Back at the Beach
It was tough and tedious, but Richard has no regrets about the path that has led him to Long Beach. His time at LBCC involved him taking a bus and a train to school from the heart of Los Angeles for practice Monday through Saturday. The commute would take four hours round-trip, which had Richard contemplating if it was even worth it.
“My parents were always in my corner and they always kept pushing me by telling me that it would work itself out,” Richard said. “I thank them for that because it got me through a lot of my lows of wanting to stop playing basketball or just going somewhere else.”
Richard maintained his loyalty to LBSU because of the relationship he built with the coaching staff and players as a manager. Everyone was rooting for him to get on the team.
“The character of the program has been tested the last couple of years and we need guys that have the same work ethic as Breamon to shift the culture,” Monson said. “You can see how excited the rest of the team is for him. They have a lot of respect for him.”
Richard’s role changed tremendously once he stepped into the Walter Pyramid as a player. He wasn’t needed for scoring or distributing anymore. DNP’s, or games where Richard did not play, would begin to stack against him, but that didn’t discourage him. His motivation would eventually find him a role as a spark off the bench, but also as a nuisance on defense to opposing teams.
“When I was younger I had to play harder because I was always the smallest. I guess I’m still the smallest,” Richard laughed. “I pride myself on defense, and when I came back here we already had scorers and my job is to come off the bench to change the tempo of the game and get the defense going.”
Richard’s selfless character can be easily seen when he is asked about his favorite memory playing at LBSU. His first: watching teammate Deishuan Booker hit the game winning layup against UC Santa Barbara on the road last year. His second: his own half court heave at the end of the first half of the Hawai’i game.
“I never hit one in a game and I had never even attempted one, but Hawai’i had scored and I was mad so I ran down the court threw it up and it went in,” Richard said. “I couldn’t even be excited because I was still mad that they had scored on me.”
While his team may not always be victorious, his priority is to be a good teammate regardless of the outcome. Once his time playing at LBSU is over at the end of this semester, his scholarship will be passed down to sophomore guard Drew Cobb, who will keep the scholarship for the rest of his time at the university.
“It’s well deserved because he is one of the hardest working people on this team,” Richard said. “To see him get a scholarship makes me happy because it just goes back on if you work hard things will fall in line for you. To change the culture of Long Beach, you need guys like him on the team.”
His time at LBSU could be over after this week, but his journey and hard work have been an inspiration for his teammates, friends and family. Richard takes nothing for granted, and will continue to work hard in the next chapter of his life.
“It’s rare to find anyone who wants to put on that Long Beach jersey as much as Breamon did,” Monson said. “He stands for the what the program is all about.”