"As you think, so shall you become." ~ Bruce Lee
I was born in Hayward, California, USA, in 1985, and was given the name Donald Hui, but most people call me Donny. I always loved playing sports, being active, and competing. Unfortunately, I was never exceptionally athletic. I was born with average strength, speed, and coordination at best. I was passionate about playing sports, which include basketball, baseball, ultimate frisbee, swimming, martial arts, badminton, table tennis, and volleyball. I would often become frustrated whenever I would be beat by someone faster, stronger, and bigger than me who worked half as hard, ate fast food, drank soda all the time, and took their natural abilities for granted. I used to think that jumping ability was only natural and that it couldn’t be improved significantly. I asked my friends who had exceptional jumping ability, “How do you jump so high?” The most common answer I received was, “I don’t know, I just do.” I wondered if my meager 24 inch vertical during my senior year of high school was as good as it was going to get. Unfortunately, I assumed that I had to be born with natural ability in order to jump high or excel at a sport.
After I graduated from high school, a friend of mine and basketball player, Alex Hariz, and I were talking about what we do to be successful at our sports (it’s good to be friends with passionate people!). Alex was 5’8 and could grab the rim with two hands, dunk a basketball on a good day, and was an amazing basketball player. Of course, I asked him how he trained his hops, and he suggested that I try weight lifting to improve my vertical. I was skeptical at first because of all the myths about being muscle bound and being slow from adding muscle. But, I knew that great rewards often came with great risks. I also had 2 choices: keep doing what I'm doing and stay at the same vertical, or try something new in hopes of change. So, I did bench press and shoulder press for 2 months, and I IMMEDIATELY added a few inches to my vertical. I was floored to say the least. I didn't know why my vertical improved from working out my upper body, but I didn't care. I started experimenting with different exercises, researching exercise science and nutrition, and became obsessed with how to jump higher. From that point, I was convinced that, although some people are born with natural jumping ability, ALL athletes can train their bodies to improve their athletic performance.
I eventually increased my vertical jump from 24 - 40 inches over a period of 4 years. I joined the 1000 lb club by squatting 335 lbs, bench pressing 245 lbs, and deadlifting 425 lbs at a bodyweight of 174 lbs. I won my first Muay Thai fight. I learned that the human body can do amazing things as long as I train for it. We all know that in theory, but this was such an eye opening concept because I felt like I had control over my athletic ability. Prior to that, I thought that how I was born was how I would for my entire life. I soon applied this principle to every aspect of my life, and have accomplished many things outside of athletics.