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NBA: Story of Ben McLemore from rags to riches

01 Jul 2013, 17:52 IST
2013 NBA Draft

Ben McLemore of Kansas walks on stage after he was drafted #7 overall in the first round by the Sacramento Kings during the 2013 NBA Draft at Barclays Center

LeBron James was ecstatic when he won his second consecutive NBA Championship. People questioned his winning mentality and he did everything to refute it.

But in an interview while holding his Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy, he added spotlight to a domain not many of us think over.

To quote LeBron from his interview when asked how he deals the constant scrutiny against him, he said, “Listen, I can’t worry what everybody say (says) about me. I am LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio. I am from the inner-city and am not even supposed to be here. That is enough.”

By highlighting this, James stresses that to win the NBA title from a not-so-comfortable upbringing is in itself a huge deal for him.

There are several other stories that deserve as much attention as LeBron James. One such example is Ben McLemore’s, who was drafted number 7 overall by the Sacramento Kings in the recently concluded 2013 NBA Draft. For those who do not know McLemore’s run to the NBA, let me assure you – it was not simple by any means.

McLemore was born in the poverty-stricken town of Wellston, Missouri. His single mother often worked late into night to raise his family, and McLemore did every bit to appreciate it by hugging his mother first when he was drafted. Many who watched the emotional moment on television may have assumed it to be an everyday display of emotion. But Ben McLemore and his mother thought otherwise.

From growing up in an area where the youth burgled homes across town to now being guaranteed at least a million dollar cheque, McLemore’s story is one of inspiration. Think about this – McLemore went to his high school to just have his daily meals. Today, he could well buy us all a meal at an acclaimed five-star hotel.

Ben McLemore was a stellar player at college. Each time, he sunk a bucket for Kansas, crowds went wild with the McLemore chant. His playmaking brought smiles on thousands of faces. In the 2013 NCAA tournament, McLemore’s jersey sold millions. Each day, Adidas (the company that sponsors Kansas University), would receive a fat cheque from the profits received due to sales of McLemore’s jersey.

In the NCAA, players receive no cuts from jersey sales due to player-college regulations. Hence, companies and the universities make all the profits. And because of this, his family continued to live in hardships. Going to the NBA Draft as soon as possible was the way out for McLemore.

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