The gangly athlete joined his first volleyball club at age 12; before he was old enough to drive, he was already under contract and being paid for playing the sport. In college, Betinho, as he is known here, dropped out of his classes in economics to travel with a professional team. When he competed in the youth world championships in Italy at age 20, he was considered the best player on earth.
But health concerns made him leave pro volleyball just as his peers were graduating from college. Soon he found he was struggling to find a new direction for his life.
“I was lost for a long time,” Betinho says, aimless for some seven years after leaving professional athletics. “I didn’t understand anything. [Playing volleyball] was just a part of my life that was being ripped out. I wasn’t ready.”