The ‘Silent’ Backstory

Ashar C., Contributor

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Kawhi Leonard, once a small forward for the San Antonio Spurs, nicknamed the ‘Silent Assassin,’ is debatably one of the best defensive players in the history of the NBA, with twelve awards in 8 different categories. Though, it is not often that fans see the ‘Assassin’ smile. Why? Well to start off, Leonard experienced some troublesome times, growing up he spent multiple days a week working alongside his dad, Mark Leonard, at their car wash. He also assisted his mom, Kim Robertson Leonard, with her job, in fact, during the High School basketball tryouts his mom was working, instead of going to the tryouts he helped his mother with her job. Eventually, he found an AAU coach who loved his style of play and accepted him onto his basketball team. Things were looking superb for Leonard. Unfortunately, during a dark Friday night on January 18th, 2008, his father, Mark met his end at his Compton car wash. He was shot, by an unknown shooter, without any identifiable motive.

Despite the tearful ending of his father, Kawhi said “When I was growing up, I didn’t have a hometown hero.” so he made his dad one. And with every hero’s fall, another one rises. Much like Russell Westbrook, Kawhi took this death to hearth and made it into motivation. According to USA Basketball “[Kawhi was the]Los Angeles Times Player of the Year his senior season (2008-09), averaged 22.6 ppg., 13.1 rpg., 3.9 apg. and 3.0 bpg.” At the end of his senior year, he outlined his career when he accepted a basketball scholarship offer from San Diego State University. SDSU is the home of 10 different NBA players, which means that their basketball team had much to offer for the young star in the making. By now, everything was perfect for Kawhi, in 2001 he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers, but was foolishly traded off to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill. Now Kawhi Leonard is an NBA Finals champion and is playing for the Toronto Raptors.