Through high school and college Kawhi worked at his dads 100% by-hand car wash in Compton California. The phone rings on the way home from a game as a senior in high school.
“Mom they said my dad is dead”
“Is he really gone?”
“Is there a chance he could still be alive?”
“Is this the wrong person?”
The next night he burst into tears after a game in the arms of his mom.
Leonard says he still thinks about his dad everyday because “he still could be here” but he wants his dad “to be amazed at whats going on and how I have grown as a man in life.”
His right arm is a dedication to his father Mark Leonard (R.I.P. tattoo in the image above). The lessons of dedication taught by his father translated into his game on the court. He was titled “Mr. Basketball California” as a senior and went on to lead San Diego State University to its best season in college history.
Kawhi looked something like this when his teammate Tim Duncan was first drafted to the Spurs. On his own draft night (2011) he was selected15th pick in the first round to the Indiana Pacers.
This doesn’t look right does it?
5 minutes later he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, he lived in a two-story home with his mom during his first 3 years in San Antonio.
All that matters to Kawhi is winning titles. After returning to San Diego in 2014 with the Spurs 5th Larry O’Brian trophy he didn’t even take it out of his condo.
don’t have time to do anything with it” he said, “I’m just a low-key
guy. I’m just happy we won it. I don’t even care about the trophy.
The title matters most.”
asked why he doesn’t smile he says, “You might see it, If
we win the championship”
All this humility and success deserves recognition. At 24 he is already an NBA Champion and the youngest Finals MVP (age 22) since Magic Johnson.