PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dion Waiters grew up playing basketball on the streets in Philadelphia.
The now 25-year-old NBA star for the Miami Heat wrote about his journey in an incredibly entertaining piece for The Players’ Tribune. Waiters wrote about his conversation with Miami Heat president Pat Riley, who asked for one non-basketball story of Waiters’ that he didn’t already know.
“By the time I was 12 years old, both my mom and dad got shot. I’ve had brothers, cousins, uncles and friends get murdered,” Waiters wrote.
“So I just willed myself to be a legend on the Philly playgrounds. By 12 years old … Man, the streets knew who Dion Waiters was. I’d show up at E.M. Stanton or Chew’s Playground and dudes would be yelling, “Here comes Headache.”
Waiters’ mom sent him to South Kent in Connecticut to play basketball, where he was second on the team in scoring behind current Celtics all-star Isaiah Thomas.
“But I was just so bored up there. I mean, I go from rippin’ and runnin’ in the streets of Philly to … well, let me put it this way: the nearest Wal-Mart was like 45 minutes away. On Saturdays, we took a bus to Wal-Mart. That was our big thing for the week. Philly is in my blood, you know?”
That’s when Waiters was informed his best childhood friend Rhamik was shot and killed.
“I was stunned,” Waiters wrote. “Numb don’t even describe it … I went on MySpace that night, and everybody had photos of Rhamik as their profile picture, and it hit me so hard. I just broke down. I lost it.”