Hometown player Braiton seizes opportunity with Notre Dame Men’s Basketball

NOW: Hometown player Braiton seizes opportunity with Notre Dame Men’s Basketball

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - If you only had one opportunity, one shot...Would you take it?

One of the biggest challenges new Notre Dame Men's Basketball Coach Micah Shrewsberry has faced so far is simply filling his roster.

He's had to play five walk-ons in his first season.

One of them, Raheem Braiton, grew up just five minutes from campus. He’s a hometown boy, seizing the moment.

“Something kept telling me to keep hooping and just keep my mind focused on what I want to do in case the opportunity comes up,” Braiton said. “This year, that opportunity presented itself and I just take the, take advantage of it. And just here I am now. So that's crazy.”

Before Notre Dame walk-on Raheem Braiton ever stepped foot on the court at Purcell Pavilion, he played two seasons at Mishawaka High School.

Braiton earned the team’s Mental Attitude Award but was never the star player and wasn’t recruited to play basketball at the next level.

So he focused on his education. Graduating second in his class in 2020, he chose Notre Dame over Indiana University and Butler University.

“I missed basketball so much when I got here,” he said. “And like, just the team aspect, just being with the guys, just be able to hoop in general.”

Braiton played on the club team for fun. Then, a friend invited him to an Irish women's basketball practice.

He connected with head coach Niele Ivey and began working out with the team.

“Such a hard worker, ton of energy, lights up a room, just a really great guy,” Ivey said. “And somebody that I trusted to be able to go against my team and help make us better.”

“It was crazy. Because like, those women are really good,” Braiton said. “They showed me like, what all I could work on. Miss Ivey, she's also gonna keep it real with you on the court, like, ‘alright, you gotta do this, gotta do this’ just in order to develop your game.”

Practicing with the women's squad lead to a manager role with the men's team his sophomore and junior years, and when Notre Dame made a head coaching change, opportunity came once again.

“When I got here, he was a manager, he was rebounding for guys, and helping out and jumping in practice and doing whatever we need him to do,” Shrewsberry said. “But we needed more numbers, we needed more bodies.”

This past summer, Braiton was one of more than 20 students who tried out to be a walk-on.

“He's so talented,” Ivey said. “He's so good that I was like, ‘I think you really have a chance with, you know, new opportunity, new coaching staff’, and I told him to go after it.”

Taking Coach Ivey’s advice, Braiton captured the moment and took his shot.

“He has an unbelievable attitude to really, like bring a passion each and every day,” Shrewsberry said. “And he makes our guys better.”

His primary role as a walk-on is to help prepare the team for upcoming games but Braiton earned his way onto the floor, playing nearly 14 minutes off the bench for the Irish this season.

When asked what his favorite part of joining the Irish is, Braiton said it’s living out a dream he had as a kid.

“Seeing the kids during the warm-up lines, because I remember just being one of them,” he said. “Just watching in the crowd, had my phone out recording the guys dunking in the layup lines. And now that I get to be one of those guys to provide that joy to the kid, it's a blessing for sure.”

When others doubted him, Braiton never gave up.

“He's chasing his dream,” Shrewsberry said. “He's probably the real-life 'Rudy' story. He just loves basketball. And for him to finally get rewarded for his persistence is really cool.”

“No matter the downfall, no matter the hard times, just get back up,” Braiton said. “If you in your heart, if you believe in it, you can achieve anything you really want.”

Share this article: