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NBA: Story of Ben McLemore from rags to riches

FEATURED WRITER
Feature
01 Jul 2013, 17:52 IST


NBA Draft 2013

Ben McLemore shows off his suit after he got interviewed. He was selected number 7 overall in the NBA Draft this year.

In an age where we blame youngsters for turning pro far too early, not many of realize what it actually means to them. McLemore is just one of them. And there are several others, where going to the NBA and plying your trade will change destinies – not only theirs but those who believed in you as well. For Ben McLemore, it will be his mother, Sonya Reid, and the entire city of Wellston.

From high school to the NBA, Ben McLemore faced as much adversity as possible. He was transferred from one high school program to another to play basketball. But the youngster found his saviour at Oak Hill Academy, Virginia – the same institution that produced the talents of Carmelo Antony, and Christian Life Center in Texas.

His family found relief when he went to study there, knowing a college program would sign him. McLemore would subtly find his way to a reputed program. His gifted talent would not go to waste. Bill Self recruited him to Kansas and everybody assumed the worst was far behind. But his first season saw him sidelined to the bench not for injury, but for NCAA violations of inadequate high school transcripts.

Even if everyone wished for this humble basketball talent to find the going smooth, it would not be. Kansas narrowly lost to Kentucky in the NCAA Finals in 2012 – a game McLemore could have switched tides easily had he played. Instead, he watched agonizingly from the bench. It ate him up but he saw through it. Today, there’s another reason to laud Ben McLemore even more.

After the Kansas University product shook NBA commissioner David Stern’s hand, he was interviewed by Shane Battier when he revealed another story of his life – one where he told the world that he wished his brother was with him at the draft. Keith Scott, McLemore’s older brother, was convicted of armed burglary and is now serving a fifteen-year prison sentence. His brother has another ten years to serve out his prison sentence.

Isn’t it miraculous that McLemore made it through all this to don the Kings snap back hat on Draft day? But there are other things to McLemore’s life. And like any human being true to his roots, he wishes to undo them for the future generation. His ambition is not to only do well in the NBA but to banish poverty from Wellston.

The shooting guard’s legacy in the NBA will be defined by what he does on and off the court in the next few years. There are questions surrounding McLemore, following his arrival in the NBA. Will he make the All-Rookie team? Will he write an everlasting heirloom at Sacramento? Is he still the most complete scorer among the rookies? Only McLemore has the answers to these questions.

But we know he has the potential to do so. Or at least we can believe he will give it his all. Like he did at Kansas under Bill Self, like he did at Oak Hill Academy. But for now, let us take this chance to reflect upon this man’s journey. For days growing up, he went without eating a single meal. There were times when there was no light in his house except a single candle. As of now, McLemore is still hungry – except to constantly achieve what a single array of light in his life brought to him – the game of basketball.

The NBA has provided such pathways to several others. Many of them go unbeknownst while few of them come into the spotlight. Larry Bird, the game’s greatest small forward, went from working in a grocery store and binging his way through depression to one of forever prosperity.

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Who would forget a humble Jeremy Lin that slept on his brother’s couch in New York, to now signing multi-million dollar endorsement deals?

For all those who went from rags to riches – the NBA will be the right place where amazing always happens!

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