With Netflix’s ‘Squid Game: The Challenge‘ breaking all bounds by being a near-perfect adaptation of fiction to reality, we honestly get a lot more than bargained for in every sense of the term. That’s because it includes not just 456 players competing for a grand cash prize of $4.56 million but also additional contests, internal tests, as well as mind plays no one could have expected. Amongst these partakers was actually none other than Timothy “TJ” Stukes — a former professional basketball athlete with great ambitions to continue embarking on new, adventurous experiences.
So, as no stranger to the spotlight, it comes as no surprise TJ (Player 182) recently spoke up about being a part of this show: “This is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever done, head-over-heals, 110 percent…” This 6’8″ tall giant, who went in at 255 lbs yet came out at 221, even added, “I was cut off from the world, literally. No phone, no watch, no internet, no TV, no anything. It was just me and… other people from 35 countries around the world. And we were literally locked in a set, [facing the hardest events of our lives]… Once people watch it, I hope they can appreciate what we went through.”
TJ is an Athlete Turned Coach and Family Man
Born in the mid-1980s to Harlem hood legend Denise Brown and Bronx sanitation worker Timothy “Timmy” Stukes, TJ’s childhood was unfortunately quite unstable from every possible angle. “They met when they both were at the peak of their ‘fame,'” he once candidly conceded. “My parents could not get along, being that my dad was a womanizer and my mom was a loyalist. So I bounced around a lot, from The Bronx to Harlem to Mt. Vernon, back to the Bronx.” He reportedly even spent a few years in the foster care system, but the one thing that never really wavered for him was the fact he was always involved in at least one sport or the other.
However, it wasn’t until TJ turned 17 and grew 9″ in a single summer that he really, seriously stepped into the world of basketball, driving him to pursue his higher education based on his play. He thus enrolled at Independence Community College in Kansas before transferring to Pittsburg State University, which is where he was able to come into his skill as a natural leader too. Though arguably, the most significant thing to happen to him during this period was his crossing paths with his future wife and the mother of his two adorable young children, Samantha.
The fact she stuck by TJ before, during, and after his pro career with the Harlem Wizards makes all the difference in the world for him, especially since she served as his backbone throughout the years. “When I retired from basketball [following over 1,300 games in 2020], I was making a very good, very good check week-to-week,” he revealed in the original. “Um, and my wife Sam is our saving grace ’cause she had a hold of my money. I was like, ‘Yo, just do what you gotta do.’ And – – and when I fully retired, I understood the troubles and the daily worries about money.”
TJ continued, “She humbled me a lot about that. We do have money trouble sometimes, and our time will come when we will be financially rich. Yet you have to be morally rich first to truly appreciate the financially rich, and Sam taught me that.” He once also stated, “My wife instilled in my brain and heart humility and gratitude. The reason why is… this game is a privilege, and you have to earn the right to be allowed to lead. She has shown me true humility because I’ve had many times where my arrogance has pushed me to places that I didn’t even realize in a negative way!”
As for TJ’s precise current standing, apart from being a happily married father of two to Amare and Alana Aofia-Stukes, this retired pro is still active in the basketball world through coaching. In fact, from what we can tell, he currently serves as Northern New Mexico College Men’s and Women’s Assistant Basketball Coach right alongside his wife Samantha — she’s the Head Coach for the Women’s Team. Moreover, he’s the proud Basketball Operations Chief Advisor at the Southwest Desert Hoops organization his loving wife kickstarted in 2019, all the while being an aspiring actor.
TJ has actually already featured in ‘The Cube’ as a contestant as well as appeared in productions such as ‘Hustle,’ ‘Valentine’s Date,’ and ‘Chicago PD,’ plus he has done various commercials too. Yet now, it seems like he hopes to take his passion for acting to a whole new level while also perfectly managing his other, already existing, personal and professional responsibilities. Coming to how he plans to do so, he recently said, “Whenever you love something, TRULY, making time for something isn’t the issue at all. I love the ability to be creative, so I give 100 percent to both [acting and coaching] equally!”
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