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For Hillsdale native point guard and shooting guard Tyler Laser, bas­ketball has shown him the world.

Tyler Laser grad­uated from Hillsdale High School in 2006, went on to play Division 1 bas­ketball at Eastern Illinois Uni­versity, and now plays pro­fes­sional bas­ketball in Europe.

“Sitting in Cyprus, I thought to myself: what an unlikely cir­cum­stance that a kid from Hillsdale, Mich., and guys from Mis­sis­sippi, and Cal­i­fornia and two Croa­tians are sitting hangin out,” Tyler Laser said. “Bas­ketball has been so cool; it’s allowed me to meet so many people, travel the world and get paid for it, and I’m so thankful that God put it in my life.”

Tyler Laser started his career playing bas­ketball in the dri­veway with his brother, Luke Laser, the Hillsdale College assistant men’s bas­ketball coach.

“We’ve always held each other to a standard and expected per­fection, and it’s fun to have someone to push you like that,” Luke Laser said.

During his freshmen year at Hillsdale High, Tyler joined Luke- at that time a junior- on the varsity men’s bas­ketball team.

“Hillsdale was always the joke of the con­ference, always getting smacked around,” Tyler said. “When we came through, we dom­i­nated.”

Hillsdale High School bas­ketball coach Brad Felix said the year that Tyler was a sophomore and his brother a senior, was and still is today the school’s best record.

“We wouldn’t have had the season that we did without them. We went 25 – 1 and made it to the Elite Eight- the semi­finals in the state tour­nament,” Felix said. “Those boys hold a special place in my heart; coaching them was a great expe­rience.”

Throughout his high school career, Tyler said he was approached with offers for many col­leges, but after being ejected from a game during his senior year, the best offer remaining was from Eastern Illinois Uni­versity.

“The fact that they were loyal to me at a time where I didn’t show my best char­acter, I wanted to be loyal to them and that’s why I went there,” Tyler said.

During college, Tyler said the team was rebuilding and he wasn’t used to losing, which almost caused him to transfer; however, he stuck with EIU because of their loyalty shown towards him in the past, and his junior year proved suc­cessful for him and the team.  He earned first team all-con­ference and the team fin­ished third in their league, which was the highest the school had ranked in 12 years.

Going into his senior year at EIU, Tyler said he was mis­di­ag­nosed by the trainers who said he had a pulled ham­string when he actually had her­niated discs in his lower back. Tyler could not play the rest of his senior year and was unable to qualify for a red­shirt.

“I was getting all the pre­season acco­lades and then that sort of popped my balloon. It was dev­as­tating,” Tyler said.

Since he was fin­ished playing in the NCAA, Tyler Laser began looking for new oppor­tu­nities in the bas­ketball world.

Tyler went to Sweden after grad­u­ating to play for the Solna Vikings, and then played for APOEL- the biggest pro­fes­sional club in Cyprus- for about a month and a half earlier this year.

“He’s very pas­sionate about bas­ketball and he always wanted to play at the highest level pos­sible,” Luke Laser said. “He’s playing against the best in the world in Europe, so he gets that chal­lenge over there.”

Tyler said he was a leading scorer on the Cyprus team, but after a four-game losing streak, the team cut almost half of their players, and unfor­tu­nately, he was one of them.

“They are very cut throat in Europe,” Tyler said. “There’s so much talent and if you don’t perform, they get rid of you and they’ll keep getting someone else. There’s guys there for two days- didn’t like the way they went through practice, so they didn’t even get a chance to play in a game, but that’s the business, and a lot of people aren’t men­tally strong enough to deal with it.”

Tyler said he hopes to be playing in South America this coming summer and then return to Europe in the fall.

In order to stay in shape, Tyler works out with the Chargers and the Hillsdale Hornets, and he still plays bas­ketball with Luke in a men’s league about twice a week.

“When I say Tyler’s comin’ in, all the guys get fired up,” Felix said. “He’s a great guy- always comes back and he wears the Hornet colors every chance he gets.”

Tyler said he likes helping kids out with bas­ketball and he plans on starting AAU teams in the future.

“I like to tell kids-if you really are pas­sionate for it and you try to make it happen, you can’t easily give up on yourself when things go wrong,” Tyler said.  “I’m just a kid from small Hillsdale, now when I come home, I’ll see kids and they’ll say ‘hey, I scored 40 points with you on my video game,’ it’s just cool.”