When people look at the NBA, the first thought is how physically gifted nearly every player is. At 6’6” and one of the most athletic players in the league, Corey Maggette was undoubtedly born with a lot of natural talent. However, in a league filled with naturally talented athletes, the way to stand out and have a successful NBA career is to do the little things right.
How was Maggette able to stay focused and have such a successful career as a pro basketball player? Whenever that question comes up, family is an overwhelming theme. From the family that helped him grow to his current setup as a father and mentor, success in any field starts with a great support system.
Staying focused as a youngster
The city of Chicago provides all the distractions imaginable for a young, talented athlete. Fall into the wrong crowd, and Maggette could have ended up on the streets like many talented basketball players from the Windy City. Maggette believes that strong support from his family, including instilling the right values at an early age, allowed him to stay out of trouble and excel as a basketball player and student.
Maggette was talented enough as a prep player that he had nearly every school in Chicago hoping that he would enroll. Eventually, he made a bit of a unique decision by going with Fenwick High School over more traditional powerhouses in the city. It was not that Fenwick was a terrible basketball school, but its rigorous college preparatory course load kept many athletes away. He saw it as a challenge academically and athletically, and he became the most successful player in school history by the end of his run.
Part of the Fenwick decision goes back to family support. His family wanted Maggette to stay challenged instead of taking the easy road. State titles and easier classes were much more attainable at other schools, but Fenwick gave him a challenge and motivation.
The Duke challenge
The high school selection for Maggette was unconventional locally, and he surprised many once again when it came time for college recruitment. By the time Maggette was an upperclassman in high school, nearly every school in the country wanted his services. Maggette could have walked into just about any school as a freshman and started, but he decided to go with Duke. Once again, thanks to a strong family support system, he focused on athletics and academics. Duke, especially at the time, was considered the ultimate package for athletes who cared about school.
Even though Maggette only spent one year in Durham, he took his studies very seriously. There was no guarantee that he was jumping straight to the NBA, especially since he did not see a crazy amount of minutes as a freshman. Being on the path to graduate from a top university was always on the mind of Maggette and his family, so they fully supported moving across the country to Durham.
Navigating the NBA as a teenager
When a player becomes a one and done in college, that puts them in the professional ranks as a very young athlete. Throw millions and millions of dollars at someone that age, and it can spell disaster in some cases. Maggette and his family witnessed some of the good and the bad with young players before him, and they put together a system that made sense from the very beginning.
During his rookie year in Orlando, Maggette had plenty of family support around him at all times. They supported him directly, but they were able to line up a financial advisor, a chef, and more to make him as comfortable as possible. Focusing solely on getting better as a basketball player helped him stay out of trouble and on the right path in the NBA. Many players coming into the NBA do not have that level of support from the family, but it paid off as Maggette grew as a player.
By year two, Maggette was in Los Angeles, still too young to drink alcohol legally. The team was very young overall, and it can be argued that he was one of the most mature and professional players on the team. He was able to progressively get better and better during his tenure with the Clippers, which ultimately led to a 14-year NBA career.
Passing on family support
Now that Maggette is retired from basketball and caring for a family of his own, he focuses on providing the same type of help he received as a younger player. Even if the NBA (or any professional sport) is not in the cards for his family, a good amount of support can make all the difference in the world in any profession. Thanks to a long, productive NBA career, Maggette has the resources that his family could only dream of having a few decades ago for him.
Without family, Maggette would be the first to say that there is a chance he never even makes it to the NBA. As talented as he was naturally, it was a strong work ethic and focus on the craft that got him to the professional level. Players who spent 14 years in the NBA do not just luck into that opportunity, and he continues to pay his family back for all the sacrifices they made to help him reach his goal.
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