Tim Duncan--A champion's heart
This NBA super star triumphs on and off the court
Growing up on St.Croix in the Virgin Islands, Tim Duncan never thought he would be a professional basketball player. During his childhood, Duncan was a competitive swimmer. Duncan only started playing basketball when Hurricane Hugo destroyed his practice pool in1989. He was about 13 years old at that time.
Two years later, NBA player Chris King saw Duncan play in a high-school basketball game. King was so impressed that he convinced the coach at Wake Forest University, King's former school, to recruit Duncan.
At Wake Forest, Duncan excelled on the court. In fact, experts predicted he would be the NBA's No.1 draft pick if he left college after his junior year. But Duncan had made a pledge to his mother that he would graduate from college. Besides, he really enjoyed college life. He continued his studies at Wake Forest one more year and graduated with a degree in psychology.
That year, he was honored as college basketball's Player of the Year. And after graduating, he was still the No.1 NBA draft pick.
For many players, the transition from college basketball to the NBA is a hard one. Players often take a few years to adjust to the tougher competition. If Duncan had a hard time, it didn't show. In 1998, the NBA named him its Rookie of the year.
Duncan is one of the few players who have been honored as an all-star for both offensive and defensive play. He not only scores for his team; he keeps the other team from scoring. That makes him a truly unique NBA player.
In 1999 and again in 2003, Duncan and his all-star teammate David Robinson helped the San Antonio Spurs win the NBA Championship. Duncan was particularly happy about their victory in 2003 because it was Robinson's final season.
Though Duncan was named MVP in both championships, he was quick to give credit to his coach and his teammates. This humble attitude has won Duncan admiration from the entire sports community. In fact, he and Robinson shared the 2003 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award for their selfless play on the court.
Making the best of the hard times
Along with his triumphs, Duncan, 29, has had to deal with his share of tragedies. In 1990, his mother died of cancer. Then 2002, his father alsodied of cancer. To honor his parents, Duncan and his wife, Amy, created the Tim Duncan Foundation. They host fundraiser s for cancer research. So far they've raised over $550,000 dollars.
Duncan also works with kids who have lost parents at an early age. And every time the Spurs play on their home court, he donates 40 game tickets to children from poor families.
When he's not playing basketball or doing charity work, Duncan visits his family. He really look up to his sisters and loves being around them. When he wants to relax, Duncan likes watching movies and surfing the Internet. Those hobbies are not surprising for a guy who has a reputation for being quiet.
Despite his quiet manner, Tim Duncan really stands out in the sporting world--and not just because he's 7 feet tall. This truly gifted athlete uses his big talent to make the world a better place.