It’s hard to believe anyone would tell Kevin Garnett he shouldn’t play basketball. Especially when you consider how his Hall of Fame career turned out. But before his phenomenal tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics, Garnett was initially forced to keep basketball a secret from his mother.
Kevin Garnett didn’t start playing basketball until he was in high school
It takes years of hard work and dedication for young players to make it to the pros. For Garnett, all it took was a couple of years.
KG didn’t start playing organized basketball until he entered high school. He attended Mauldin High School in South Carolina, close to his home in Greenville. However, due to racial tensions and an unwarranted arrest, Garnett transferred to Farragut Career Academy in Chicago for his senior year.
With a new school, Garnett’s national profile took off. Not only did he win 1995 Mr. Basketball in Illinois, but he was named National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. Soon after, he became the first player since Bill Willoughby in 1979 to enter the NBA straight out of high school after the Timberwolves selected him fifth overall in the 1995 NBA Draft.
Garnett had to hide basketball from his mother
Most high school basketball players got to play with family watching them from the stands. But for the bulk of Garnett’s high school career, his mom was unaware he was even playing.
During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Garnett revealed how his mother didn’t find out about her son playing basketball until his junior year.
“I made varsity in 8th grade, and she was like, ‘What? No. You’re gonna go to school, you’re gonna focus on education. I want you to get into these books,'” Garnett told host Jimmy Kimmel. The 45-year-old also added he was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, so he and his siblings were disciplined kids.
As you can expect, Garnett didn’t obey his mom and chose to play basketball anyway. But eventually, his secret came to light.
“My mother was a beautician, and after years of working in the factory at 3 a.m. she started doing hair in the neighborhood. One of the girls who I go to school with came in and got her hair done and was like, ‘Hurry up, I gotta get my hair done. I’m going to see Kevin play tonight.’ [My mom] was like, ‘What?’ and the girl was like, ‘Yeah I’m going to see Kevin, Kevin’s good. You ain’t seen your son?’
I’ll never forget, I was in the layup line. It was just another typical night against a rival. And my mom walked in with my little sister and I almost pooped on myself. It was not good, Jimmy, it was not good.”Kevin Garnett
Garnett’s mom was livid at first, as he would explain to Kimmel. Eventually, she did support her son upon seeing him enter the NBA.
Garnett had a legendary NBA career
Once he proved to his mom that he was committed to basketball, the Big Ticket’s run as a superstar began.
By his second NBA season, Garnett was named an All-Star for the first of 15 times. He was a 12-time All-Defense selection and nine-time All-NBA honoree, as well. KG was also named NBA MVP in 2003-04 after averaging 24.2 points, a league-leading 13.9 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game.
The bulk of Garnett’s individual accolades came during his time in Minnesota, but postseason success came in Boston. In 2007-08, his first season in green, KG won Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA title. Boston returned to another NBA Finals two years later, with Garnett coming within one game of a second title.
Garnett finished his career with over 26,000 points, 14,600 rebounds, and $334 million in earnings. It’s a good thing his mom eventually came around on the basketball idea.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.