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Dugout Diaries: Getting To Know Justin Melton, San Mig Rookie, Yoga Buddy, And Photographer

People sometimes only see the basketball player exclusively as a basketball player. Erika's chance encounter with San Mig Coffee Mixers' rookie guard, Justin Melton, at a yoga session reveals that if you dig a little deeper, ballers can show you a whole lot more. 
by Erika Padilla | Jan 10, 2014
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It’s been a little over a month since my last article. The holiday break was a good time to, well, take a break and not think and do anything. But at the back of my head, I couldn’t help but ponder on what my next topic will be. I just wasn’t too keen about talking about basketball per se. You have other guys consistently writing about what went wrong, what should have been done right in a game, who performed well, and who deserves criticism. Analyses are made and offered by ten thousand other writers, so I really was deep into my thoughts thinking of something different that I can give you guys for the New Year.

But I had nothing.

At that time, I still had a week or so until things go back to normal, so I just let it go and didn't worry about it much. I told myself, there's always time for everything, and I should have ample time the following week for cramming (ba-dum-tssss).

In the meantime, I said, procrastinating matches the lazy holiday. But seriously though, I was confident that it will just come to me and I’ll be able to put together my thoughts to bring a different tone to my column.

To cut the long story short, the cosmos didn’t fail me. If you believe you will achieve.

As I was about to have my yoga class last week, this PBA rookie stepped right into the studio. Initially, I didn't think that he would be the topic of my article right away. I wasn't thinking of DUGOUT DIARIES then, at all. I was too busy getting ready to do yoga to sweat all the hamon and sweets out of my system. That was on top of my list, way more urgent than anything else. (I think it’s just but right to prioritize to get the hamon and chocolates out of the way especially when you're writing for FHM!)

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[Erika is part of the latest edition of FHM InstaSexy, the #BalikAlindog 2014 Edition!]

So then he walks in, and honestly I was surprised. I've been practicing in this Eastwood spot for so long and there hasn't been any player—at least that I am aware of—that have gone and tried Bikram Yoga.

But just like what they say, there’s always a beginning to a change. And Justin Melton, a rookie swingman from the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, brought that shift. He's the first PBA player I've shared the hot room with.

We were talking about his Bikram practice then one story led to another, and that's when I got to know that this gentleman from Virginia is also a photographer. With the hipster culture letting almost anyone become a “photographer,” “chef,” or “surfer,” I just conveniently thought that just like many, he enjoys taking photos for leisure.

But I was in for another surprise.

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I was already impressed by the fact that he was able to sustain all 26 postures of Bikram and stay inside the heated room. Justin, it turns out, is a "serious" photographer. It’s a passion that he is a master of, literally, being a Master's Degree holder in Commercial Photography from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in Atlanta.

He studied it for two years and even went to SCAD’s Hong Kong campus as part of the program. To ground it even more as an interest consistent to his personality, his undergrad degree is Visual Communication from Mount Olive College in North Carolina. Obviously, his craft is not just art that developed through practice. He actually also took the academic approach to hone the talent, and I was, like, “Boy, you're legit!”

As we were talking, I asked what his favorite photo subject is. Without even thinking about it, he said it's people, primarily because of the subject's capacity to express emotions. He particularly enjoys weddings and fashion as themes. Joyful celebrations are wonderful to capture while the extra imagination involved when dealing with fashion shoots excites him, says Justin.

So just to concretize how legitimate his work is, his clients include Lucy Doughty, the head hair stylist for the Hunger Games movie series. He took pictures for Doughty's Salon and Hair school in Atlanta:

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I am no professional, but when I saw the photos, there's no doubt in my mind that even with my dry, damaged and close to being dead hair will look phenomenal under Justin's lens!

As we all know, artists have a sensitive side, and EMO is also evident in the PBA rookie's works. His more "artsy" photos, he shares, capture his feelings and thoughts. They are a combination of random objects, backgrounds, movements, colors, people—the subliminal messages of which are from his personal experiences, but he do believes that other people will have a different interpretation than him. Check out those artsy works on the next page.

NEXT: Justin's got some shooting skills. Photo shooting skills that is! 

Photos SPIN.PH, Justin Melton, The Mastery Salon, Element Model Management, and Shawn Stack for wardrobe
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