From Shooting Hoops to Cutting Hair


Koffi Abini

Max Garcia focuses on cutting a client’s hair at Traditions Barber Parlor in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

Koffi Abini, Writer

A year ago, Max Garcia was a starting center on Loyola Academy’s varsity basketball team. Today, at just 19 years old, he is cutting hair and making a living as a barber.

Garcia had always dreamed of playing college basketball, but his passion quickly turned to cutting hair when he started watching YouTube videos and practicing on mannequins at the end of his junior year.

“I always had a love for basketball, I wanted to play basketball in college,” Garcia said.” I never expected myself to find a passion in cutting hair.” Although Garcia had no formal training, his natural talent and hard work helped him improve his skills quickly.

Garcia’s grandfather and one of his biggest supporters invested in his dreams and provided him with the necessary supplies to start off his journey.

“I’m forever grateful for my grandpa. Without him I don’t know where I would be right now,” Garcia said.

After weeks of practicing on a mannequin and watching YT videos, it was now time for Garcia to take the next step and cut an actual person’s hair. 

“I was definitely nervous the first time,” Garcia said. “A lot of nerves were going through my body.”

After a successful first cut Garcia was happy, but he still knew if he wanted to become really good he had to start putting in a lot more time and dedication. 

Being able to find clients is a key to being successful, Garcia knew he had to find a way to stand out from his competitors.

“I knew that if I wanted to get more clients I had to do anything to find someone who wanted a haircut,” Garcia said. “Posting my videos on Tiktok allowed people to see my work and gain interest in me.”

However, Garcia also faced a lot of criticism and negativity from some people who didn’t like his work and talked down to him. But he refused to let that discourage him and remained focused on his dream

“There were people who hated what I was doing but I knew that was going to be a part of the process. I just kept my head up and continued to pursue my dream,” Garcia said. 

After months of cutting hair in his basement, Garcia finally landed a gig at an actual barbershop, which was a huge achievement in his journey.

“This was a big achievement in my journey. When I started cutting hair in my basement I knew that it was going to motivate me to work hard to land a gig cutting at an actual barber shop,” he said. 

Garcia’s first client he cut at the barbershop was his long time friend Merwan Nur. Merwan is now a client of Garcia and says he doesn’t see himself going to someone else to cut his hair.

“When Max first cut me at the barbershop I was nervous and excited for him. I knew that there was a risk of him messing up my haircut, but I had faith in him,” Nur said. “He did such a good job and will never go to someone else to cut my hair.”

Throughout his journey, Garcia learned many important qualities and skills that continue to help him improve. He emphasizes the importance of being passionate about being a barber and finding ways to improve every day. 

“One of the most important things I learned was having to actually be passionate about being a barber, and finding ways to improve everyday,” Garcia said. “Being a barber also requires a lot of time and dedication, and if you’re not willing to put in the work and effort you are not going to succeed.” 

Now, as a freshman in college, Garcia has to balance his time between school and being a barber, but he has done an excellent job at it.

“Being a barber and being in school is a lot of work but I have done a good job balancing the two,” Garcia said. “I’m putting a lot of time and effort into both. I earned a 4.0 GPA in my first semester of college and I am looking forward to excelling in both my studies and barbering.”

A lot of people are proud of the work he has done over the past year and are excited to see what he accomplishes in the future. 

“Man it’s great to see Max succeed. He has definitely come a long way from the start of his journey,” Kwadwo Boateng, a client of Max said. “After one of my cuts I told him that he is my forever barber.”

Max’s journey from basketball player to barber was a testament to his hard work and determination.