VAUGHT: Africa trip changed Harris

Before Ramon Harris went on a 13-day trip to Africa with Athletes in Action, he was prone to complain about things just like most of us do. Now he knows not to take so much for granted.

"All they complain about is trying to find a place to live or something to eat," said Harris, a Kentucky junior who started 25 games and averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season.

"In the beginning, I was on the trip to go play basketball and see what life was like in different cultures. I ended up learning more about my faith in God and sharing that with other people as well as building new friendships and relationships."

"It turned out better than I thought it would. It was something I will never forget. It really humbled me and helped me appreciate what I have. They do not have anything but a smile on their face. It was easy for us to adjust because we were only there a short time and then we came back to our normal lives. To see how they live and struggle and all that really made me feel kind of selfish in a way."

Harris got to spend a lot of time talking to Africans at various stops on the trip.

"They just wanted to know what America was like in general. We talked about the USA (national team), the Olympics. We told them what America was like. They seemed interested, but they really did not know what we were talking about because they have not seen it. It was just an experience I will never forget," Harris said.

"It wasn't hard to concentrate on basketball when it was time to play because we were having fun. We knew the other teams and had relationships with them and that made it fun. The people were very nice and respected us. That made the whole trip a lot easier."

Harris says he will cherish the trip the rest of his life because it made him appreciate daily things like having enough to eat that he always had taken for granted.

"I lost 10 pounds during the trip," Harris, who said he ate a cheeseburger as soon as he could when the team returned home, said. "The AIA had us situated real good. The only thing was that they could not feed a lot to us. But it was nothing we couldn't handle for a few days.

"It's nice to be home even though it was hard to leave. I do think it will make me work harder on my basketball. It also makes me appreciate all the things I have to make me a better person and player. I just wish I did not have to take a trip and see things I saw to make that change in me."

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