Many athletes excel in sports during their high school and college careers. For some, when they get to the professional ranks, it’s a different story. T.J. Ford was a former basketball player who had a lot of success in high school and college.
T.J. Ford was one of the best players in high school and college
Ford was born in Houston, Texas, and got into basketball at a young age. He was a big fan of the Houston Rockets and witnessed the team win back-to-back NBA titles during the 1990s. Ford had dreams of making it to the NBA. In high school, he led his team to a 75-1 overall record, which included a 62-game winning streak during his final two years. He won two Texas Class 5A state titles during his high school tenure as well. Ford decided to stay home and play for the University of Texas.
During his freshman year, Ford put up big numbers. He led the team in steals and minutes per game and became the first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists averaging 8.27 per game. Ford was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. During his sophomore season in 2003, Ford continued to dominate on the court. He led the team in scoring, assists, and steals. Ford led Texas to its first Final Four since 1947.
At the end of his sophomore season, Ford was a First Team All-American selection, and he also won the Naismith College Player of the Year award. That wasn’t the only award he received. He won the John Wooden award and was named the Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, ESPN.com, and CBS SportsLine. Ford put together an impressive college career in just two seasons. Going into the 2003 NBA draft, Ford was one of the top prospects in the class. The Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the eighth overall pick, and his NBA career started during the 2003-04 season.
A look at T.J. Ford’s career in the NBA
In his rookie season, Ford was the starting point guard for the Bucks. He led the team in assists averaging with 6.5 per game and averaged 7.1 points per game. Ford only played 55 games in his first season and would have to miss the remainder of the season due to an injury. At the end of the season, he was named to the All-Rookie Second Team. The back injury that Ford suffered during his rookie season forced him to miss the entire 2004-05 season. He made a full recovery and returned during the 2005-06 season. Ford averaged 12.2 points and 6.6 assists per game that season as the starting point guard.
After his short stint with the Bucks, Ford was traded to the Toronto Raptors. During the 2006-07 season, Ford averaged a career-high in assists with 7.9 per game. After that first year in Toronto, things started to go downhill for Ford. Throughout the remainder of his career, he battled with injuries and was forced to miss many games. He finished his NBA career playing with the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs. Ford was done playing professionally after 2012.
What has T.J. Ford been doing since he retired from the NBA?
Ford continues to have an impact on the game even though he’s not playing anymore. He has the TJ Ford Basketball Academy, which is a premier youth basketball program for boys and girls in the Greater Houston area. The academy features elite and developmental-level teams that compete nationally. Ford knew that he wanted to coach when his playing career was over. In an article from The Undefeated, Ford talked about how much he valued teaching the game to others.
“I have a passion for teaching the game of basketball and helping mentor players on and off the court,” he said. “My basketball academy allows me to interact with a variety of players of all levels through youth to NBA.” Even though his career was cut short due to injuries, Ford still found a way to be involved in basketball in a big way.