(WMC) - While some college students spent their summer by the pool or hanging out with friends, one Mid-Southerner took his talents overseas to China.
Shortly after finishing his first year at Murray State University, Lausanne Collegiate standout Cameron Payne traveled to China with the Christian sports ministry Reach USA. There, Payne was part of a team who played games with various professionals in the country.
Payne, who began playing ball with his dad at the age of three, never thought his athletic passion would take him this far from home.
"I feel that God has a plan for me, some way, to keep playing the game of basketball and this was one stop down the road," said Payne
In addition to encouragement from friends and various sports programs, Payne credits his parents with being his number one support system.
In the sea of Murray State Racers fans holding "House of Payne" signs at every game, two faces always stood out in the crowd during the season — LeShawn and Tony Payne, Sr.
"I can barely count on one hand on how many games they have missed because it is so rare," said Payne. "But that's my purpose to playing this game; to honor God and to play for my family."
The youngest of two children, the 19-year-old standout comes from an athletic bloodline. His father, Tony Payne Sr. spent years coaching youth basketball teams and his older brother, Tony Payne Jr. is a recent Lane College graduate and basketball star.
"My mentor has been my dad forever and will always be even if I get blessed to play this game of basketball after college," added Payne.
Like many college freshmen, Payne's first year of college was eye-opening.
"I expected to come of the bench and be a average freshman player but God had a different first year of college planned for me," noted Payne. "I had a one of the best freshman seasons that any freshman could have and I thank God for every bit of it."
Though the road to athletic success is different for everyone, Payne offered this advice: "Play for a purpose and always believe in yourself to do even better."