Rayon 'Muscle' Gardiner

Noelita Lawrence-Ricketts

Flashing round town on his speedy Kawasaki ZX10 motorcycle (Black Beast), he is an intellectual basketball player, fantastic father of two and a mentor to several, who inspires and delights many when he takes to the court. He was born Rayon Gardiner, and is popularly known as ‘Muscle’, ‘Jimmy Son’ and ‘Watch Rasta’.

Gardiner, who holds a Bachelor in International Business, came into this world on June 14, 1980, and is a born and bred Montegonian, son of popular and longstanding businessman Jimmy, owner and operator of Jimmy’s Bakery, and mother Bev from Mount Salem.

Gardiner divulged to the Western Mirror during his sit-down that he’s a very jovial person, but only when in the company of his friends.

He is father to an 11-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son and the usually soft-spoken Gardiner, who can often be seen in very casual wears (shorts and crocs), almost every day of the week, says being a dad is one of the best feeling in the world.

Gardiner hails from a very large family, revealing to the Western Mirror that he has about nine siblings by his father’s side, and notes he’s the sixth for him, while being an only child for his beloved mother.

He started his primary education at the much-sought-after Corinaldi, before leaving for Knox High in Clarendon, where he spent 6 years before returning to Montego Bay, where he enrolled at the Montego Bay Community College and later migrated to the United States where he attended Delaware State University to attain his bachelor.

Said to be one who loves to travel, a smiling ‘Muscle’ revealed his time at Knox, in another parish, was a calculated move by his parents who, at the time, thought boarding school was his only outlet because he was “giving trouble”.

A lethal point guard and a destructive three pointer on his day, the standout basketball player in the Western end of the island, Gardiner, has played for several clubs – namely Glendevon Snipers, Montego Bay Hoopers and the Montego Bay Cricket Club Knights, where he has been a fixture for the past 2 years.

Gardiner, who says he has been in and around the sport now for some 24 years, said he introduced himself to the sport. “It was D’Cup’s off season and there was nothing else to do for an athletic individual so I just took to the sport and quickly warmed to it.”

In his candid one-on-one with this news entity, Gardiner, quizzed if he had ever thought of pursuing any other profession than that of a businessman, notes that being born to entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship came naturally for him. So, from an early age, he aspired to become just as successful, if not more, than his parents. “I’m all about the business at hand,” he stated.

MUSCLE UP-CLOSE:

Ques: Who would you say is your motivator?

Ans: My father is my motivator and hero. His story is from a poor and humble background. His journey, his achievements are incredible. The things he has seen and the different eras he’s lived through since 1938 and still going. It’s just a real story and I strive to live by his goals and teachings.

Ques: Do you have a best friend?

Ans: Fitzroy Goldson (Flour), Rayon Grey (Chico), Penny Ripton, Blackella, Ven and Macki

Ques: How tall are you?

Ans: 6’ 4”

Ques: What’s your favourite quote?

Ans: ‘Honour your mother and father and your days will be long’.

Ques: Which team do you support in the NBA

Ans: None

Ques: Do you have any player you admire?

Ans: I’m old school, so Michael Jordan. If you’re asking about currently and still in the game, then  it’s going to be LeBron James

Ques: Do you watch any other sport than Basketball?

Ans: NFL and my team to support is LA Rams. It’s the only other sport I would play too if I were younger.

Ques: Who is your player to talk sports with?

Ans: Ryan Grey (Chico). I like to talk to people who intellectually understand the game, and he’s one of those persons

Ques: Should a game be on the line, name a few players you would like to be on the court with?

Ans: Chico, for his understanding and proper decision-making with the ball; Dave Black, known for making game-winning shots, Antonio Spence, and Jhaun Bryan down in the paint.

Ques: Do you have a favourite local official?

Ans: Yes, yes, how can you not like Miss Suzette Virgo? She has an all-round knowledge of the game and is one that often times makes the right calls without fear or bias.

Ques: What has been your most memorable match to date?

Ans: That’s tough since I’ve been playing the sport for so long (over two decades), but I guess I would have to say the Knights championships beating of the favourite Falmouth Saints in the finals.

Ques: What’s the most-used app on your phone?

Ans: WhatsApp Messenger

Ques: What’s your favourite venue to play?

Ans: The only good court we have in Montego Bay – Cricket Club

Ques: What’s your favourite food?

Ans: Lobster at Carbonara (houseboat)

Ques: Do you have a favourite colour?

Ans: Yes, anything black

Ques: What’s your all-time favourite movie?

Ans: Friday with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker

Ques: Is there a favourite book ever read?

Ans: LOL!! My Bank Book

Like millions worldwide, Gardiner says the Coronavirus has put a strain on his daily activities. “Personally, I’ve traveled a lot and I love to travel. Places like Rome, Paris, Milan and Mexico, to name a few, are places I’ve been and with COVID’s main rule of ‘tan a yard’, everything, including sports and Basketball, is just on a pause. I miss the opportunity of playing pick-up games or Leagues to vie for, so it’s just a pause for everything. It’s hard to deal with but it leaves or opens room for several other stuff that you wouldn’t normally find time for, namely family and being at home; spending more time with loved ones.”

In also taking a swipe, Gardiner is calling on the business community to make a commitment to the sports in the West and Montego Bay in particular as the game (Basketball) is important to the young, upcoming players and it’s also a venue for at-risk youth to channel their energies.