Let me first state the I love Steph Curry’s game, his humility and his overall brand. I’ve never met Curry but we share several mutual friends and acquaintances who, for many years, have raved to me about him as a young man, competitor and player.
I endeavor to teach my only child life lessons through sports. Michael, now 13, grew up around athletics from the crib to 8th grade. He’s passionate about athletics and the people associated with sport. Most, if not ALL, his role models are involved in the world of professional sports and I’m grateful that Stephen Curry is one of the few.
Recently, Michael and I were discussing Curry and I felt like I didn’t know enough details about him to have a well thought out perspective and conversation with my son. So, I did what everyone smart father does … I “googled” him! What I learned was a lesson in perseverance and thus, felt the need to relate my new found knowledge to Michael (and to you). This past weekend, Michael and I talked about Curry the “player”, the “person”, and his resilient journey towards reaching his sports dreams.
Shooting on the muddy, outdoor court in his grandfather’s driveway, Steph Curry began to develop one of the more spectacular skill sets that the NBA has seen from the humblest of beginnings. Curry told ESPN, “It was ‘make it or chase it’ out there, and if you missed, it was terrible.” To keep the ball from getting dirty and wandering off into the messy terrain beyond the court, Curry sought perfection with every shot and that characteristic proved consistent throughout his career.
The Curry family legacy didn’t manifest in his physical presence, but it’s molded an unusual determination. Dell Curry, Steph’s father, is an NBA veteran and after playing 16 years he retired as the Charlotte Hornets’ all-time leader in points and three-point field goals made. Steph’s hopes to follow in his dad’s footsteps were bleak at first but surprisingly his story of perseverance bred him into a bigger star than his father could have imagined.
Steph Curry was born in Akron, Ohio but raised in Charlotte, North Carolina during his father’s tenure there. Curry’s father often took him and his younger brother Seth Curry to his games where they first saw the NBA stage they’d eventually evolve to and join. But Curry’s path wasn’t always destined for this level of limelight.
The thin, 5-8 frame at 150 pounds put noticeable obstacles in front of Curry from an early age. As a sophomore at Charlotte Christian School, Curry was already at a physical disadvantage but his shooting mechanics at the time wouldn’t work even on the high school court. During his sophomore year, Curry faced his first on-the-court obstacle and it took him a great deal of practice to change something so fundamental. Although it was necessary his changed his shot form and dramatically improved the speed of his release. As Curry said, “When it came to basketball, I was always the smallest kid on my team. I had a terrible, ugly, catapult shot from the time I was 14 because I wasn’t strong enough to shoot over my head, and I had to reconstruct that over the summer and it was the worst three months of my life. You’d think there are no hurdles or obstacles that I had to overcome, but even when I got to high school I wasn’t ranked. I wasn’t highly touted as a high school prospect. I had nobody really running, knocking on my door saying “Please, please, please come play for our school,”
Steph is such a basketball connoisseur, took charge in building a better skill set despite the chatter that his size would keep him from reaching the big stage. He often took 1,000 shots before practice with the thought pressure that his father was a well respected shooter in the NBA and Curry would also endure comparisons. After a summer of hard work, Curry began to perfect his lightning-quick form and shooting efficiency. The emerging prospect was named all-state, all-conference, and led his team to three conference titles and three state playoff appearances.
By senior year Steph Curry grew to a respectable 6 ft tall, 160-pound senior but he hadn’t received any scholarship offers from any major-conference schools. Curry’s dream was to follow in his dad’s collegiate choice and play for the Virginia Tech Hokies. His dad finished his career with his jersey hanging in the rafters, second all-time leading scorer, first all time in steals and the 14th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft. The coaching staff at Tech only offered Steph a “walk-on” position. Big mistake. He was obviously disappointed, yet highly motivated to prove to himself and others that he was worthy of a high major scholarship.
But Steph’s hard work and development did earn him scholarship offers from “mid major” basketball programs like Davidson, VCU, and Winthrop. He chose Davidson and brought the university a great deal of notoriety, especially for an institution who hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1969. Nonetheless, Davidson would reap the rewards of Curry’s perseverance.
The sharpshooter set a freshman record during his first year at Davidson with 122 three-point shots in 2006-2007. Sophomore season in 2008, the Davidson star only increased his production. He set another 3-point record but more importantly, brought the Davidson Wildcats within one game of the Final Four before a close loss to a stacked Kansas. Kansas went on to win the national title that year but Curry’s performance gained national recognition as well.
Curry’s collegiate career was beyond unexpected, but the goals he set out to achieve weren’t easy tasks by any means. His story of perseverance rallied against the lack of physical presence that’s helpful to play basketball at a high level. But without a major scholarship offer, Steph Curry is the epitome of striving through all odds with personal belief, faith, talent, hard work and relentless perseverance.
In the 2009 NBA Draft, Curry was drafted No. 7 overall by the Golden State Warriors and became the lowest draft pick to win the NBA MVP since Kobe Bryant’s first ring in 2008 (Bryant was drafted 13th overall). In 2014-15, Steph lead the Warriors to a franchise best 67 wins and their first NBA Championship since in 40 years (1975).
After being awarded the NBA Finals MVP Trophy Curry stated, “If you take time to realize what your dream is and what you really want in life– no matter what it is, whether it’s sports or in other fields– you have to realize that there is always work to do, and you want to be the hardest working person in whatever you do, and you put yourself in a position to be successful. And you have to have a passion about what you do. Basketball was mine, and that’s what’s carried me to this point.”
Thank you, Steph Curry, for the lesson in perseverance and hard work!