“I was not afraid, even my great-grandmother was in a street gang”

Dejounte Murray is 24 years old. He has been in the NBA since 2016, when he came through the noble door of the Spurs as number 29 in the draft. He had played a season with the Washington Huskies, a university in his home state: he was born in Seattle and raised in the harsh South End.

Murray is a point guard that is out of the mold of today’s playmakers. He does not shoot three if he is not forced, he plays at full speed in transition and has been learning, little by little, to organize the game in five against five and to score from the middle distance. Gregg Popovich believes in him and the Texas franchise considers him one of its pillars for the future: he is already the second longest-serving in the squad after the very veteran Patty Mills and in October 2019 he signed a contract extension for four years and 64 million euros. dollars that could end up being 70.

He did so after missing the 2018-19 season, the third for him in the League, after tearing his cruciate ligament in the preseason. He came from entering the Second Defensive Quintet in 2018Something that only Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Anthony Davis had achieved before him at 21 years of age or younger. Because, above all else, Murray is an exceptional defender, a pest, a nightmare for opposing point guards. In the current season, in which his Spurs are going to play the play in except catastrophe, he averages 15.9 points, 7 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

Michael Pina says, in an excellent article about him in Sports Illustrated, that it’s going to be the only player who has not been an all star in the last decade after averages of at least 15 + 7 + 5. The article is, beyond that, an excellent review of the life, very complicated, that forged the Murray who gives everything every night on the slopes with the Spurs. A childhood and adolescence marked by survival in a very tough marginal neighborhood. Violence, gangs, drugs, arrests: “It’s a story that I haven’t told before because I was really on the street. Really. It’s nothing to brag about. It’s real shit, it’s crazy when I wake up in the morning and think I’m playing in the NBA. It’s like being in a video game. There are people who buy a shirt with my name on it. It’s like it’s not real, I’ve been here for five years and it’s still like a dream ”.

Murray tells frankly how his destiny seemed written… and with a very bad ending: “I think the road that has brought me here, everything I have had to overcome… nobody has had to go through that much. I am at a time when I consider how to tell my story to motivate others, so that the world knows who Dejounte Murray is. So far I have spoken very little about myself because it was something that traumatized me. When you think of the streets in being a kid on the street … in gangs, drugs and having to do whatever it takes to get some money… that was what there was. This was my life. It’s not even something I had to learn. It was that or nothing, there was no other way ”.

That path finally changed after several arrests: “I was not even a juvenile delinquent at 11 years old. I was not afraid, I was not nervous, I knew how things were going to be if I went to jail “. His mother was in and out of prison and his father disappeared for long periods. “I am not the only one in my family who had to go through the worst, even though it seems crazy. It was like this for everyone, even my grandmother … I heard stories that my great-grandmother was part of a street gang, doing ugly things, crazy. It is like a loop, as if it were a cycle, something that is passed from generation to generation. The normal thing in my family was to sell drugs, to have to do whatever was necessary on the streets ”.

“I went from floor to floor, I was on the street all day. So much so that he had no favorite cartoons. I can’t even talk about those things with my daughter, that affects me a lot“Says a Murray who stuck to basketball to get ahead and is not going to let anything derail him from that path:” I still deal with a lot today. The most important thing for me is to go to the training court, to meditate. I don’t party, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. The gym is like my nightclub, my therapy. My life. It would be a disgrace if I let those things affect my career, prevent me from getting where I want to go. They taught me that you have to find a way to achieve what you want. And that’s what I’m doing ”.

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