The transformation of Steph Curry

— I’ve lived in Charlotte, N.C. with my family now for the past 15 years and owned season tickets to the Bobcats games for the first three seasons of the new basketball franchise. In a small, communal city like Charlotte, we all know the sons and daughters of the professional athletes in basketball as well as from the Carolina Panthers football team. A decade ago, I missed a chance to see young Stephen Curry play in person at his father Dell Curry’s Bojangles High School Basketball Tournament, featuring nationally ranked teams, because Steph’s local Charlotte Christian team was not ranked high enough to make it into the national draw at his dad’s tournament.

At the time, Steph Curry was an average-sized point guard at 6 foot with a slim, lightweight frame and average projections. Curry couldn’t even get a scholarship offer to his mom and dad’s alma mater, Virginia Tech. He signed with the local Davidson University Wildcats in 2006. That’s when Steph’s exciting transformation began.

Understanding the Curry pedigree, Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop moved Steph off the ball and allowed him to use more of his long-range shooting as an undersized 2-guard at 6 foot 1. With a green light as a freshman, Curry helped Davidson to a 29-5 record, winning the Division 1 Southern Conference with a 21.5-point average a game and the conference MVP Award, while breaking a national 3-point shot record for a freshman. He came in second in freshman scoring in the nation that year behind Kevin Durant at Texas. Curry then dropped 30 on a fourth-seated Maryland team in an 82-70 loss in the opening round of the NCAA tournament – a game that I got to watch on national TV – and a new star was born.

In his sophomore year, Steph Curry grew two more inches to his current height of 6 foot 3 with all eyes on him at a little-regarded Mid-Major college. Curry stepped up his scoring average to 25.5 points a game for a 26-6 Davidson record, going 20-0 in the Southern Conference, where every Davidson game was sold-out with fans eager to see the scoring phenom.

Curry did not disappoint, leading his Wildcats team to another NCAA tournament, where he dropped 40 on Gonzaga, hitting 8 out of 10 on his 3s in an 82-76 win. His team went on to beat the mighty Georgetown Hoyas and Roy Hibbert in a 74-70 comeback win after trailing by 17 points. Rolling forward, Davidson demolished a third-seated Wisconsin team 73-56 behind 33 points from Curry, with the sensational sophomore breaking more scoring and 3-point records along the way.

By the Elite Eight game against Kansas his sophomore year, the whole world was watching Curry as his Davidson Wildcats pushed the Jayhawks to the wall in a nail-biting, 59-57 loss, where Curry dropped another 25.

After winning a half-dozen collegiate awards and recognitions, Curry returned his junior year as a solidified collegiate star with NBA conversations on whether he could still play the point guard position at the professional level. So Curry slid back over to his initial position at the point to prepare himself for the NBA.

Failing to reach the NCAA tournament in his junior year, Curry averaged 28.6 points a game with a pair of 44-point games and ended his college career after an 80-68 loss to Saint Mary’s Gaels and Patty Mills in the 2009 NIT Tournament. Curry hit another 26 in final college game.

Snatched up by the Golden State Warriors in the seventh round of the 2009 NBA draft, we all knew that Steph Curry could shoot, but few of us saw him as a budding superstar. He looked more like a designated scorer, who still needed to bulk up. Curry could barely guard anyone in the league, outside of stealing a few loose balls in transition and such. Nevertheless, his ability to shoot solidified him as an up and coming NBA star, even getting invitations to play on the USA World Cup teams, winning gold medals in 2010 and again in 2014.

After struggling through a few early NBA seasons with ankle injuries, team chemistry issues, an All-Star snub, and a fired inspirational coach, who guided the Warriors to two consecutive playoff runs, Curry set the league on fire this year with the best team record, his first 3-point shooting title at the NBA All-Star weekend, and the grand daddy of them all, the MVP Award of the entire NBA. Not only that, Curry’s young Warriors team, with their baby face new coach, Steve Kerr, are in the running to win the NBA title this year.

Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction, and a professional journalist, who has published 27 books, including co-authoring Mayor For Life; The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr. View more of his career and work @

Giving athletes guidance and a helping hand

— Recently, I had a chance to be a representative of the National Alliance of African-American Athletes (NAAAA) at the Florida State-Georgia Tech ACC Championship football game in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and championship quarterback, “Famous” Jameis Winston. I was also offered an opportunity to meet Winston and his family. So I took the occasion to enjoy a very interesting and eye-opening evening of football, academics, business and relationships.

Starting with the football game, the Alliance had great seats in the middle section of the stadium, right below the luxury boxes at the 50-yard-line. That made my view crystal clear to watch Winston work his Earvin “Magic” Johnson-like “gift” on the field again, willing his Florida State Seminoles to rally from behind and overcome a very determined Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets team and crowd for a 37-35 win. That’s now 26 straight games that Florida State has yet to taste defeat under Winston’s uncanny leadership.

Once the game reached the fourth quarter, stadium security was less concerned about seat assignments, so I was invited to sit closer to the field and meet the Winston family. In the lower seats off the corner of the end zone, I met a joyously animated father who stood, yelled and joked with the surrounding fans throughout the game, and a calm and observant mother who sat quietly in the cold and watched the game on the giant jumbo screen above the goal post.

I pinched myself and asked, “Is this the real mom and dad of that talented young man out there with the sexual allegations, stolen crab legs, loose cannon mouth, autograph infractions and gigantic football ego, who may or may not go pro next year?”

All of that came to mind while standing beside them. You can’t help it. Jameis Winston has been all over the news since 2013, with everything he says or does. Yet, his parents were as normal as any other parents I’ve been around in youth football, basketball, baseball, track and field or soccer. I’ve been around supportive parents and families ever since I started playing organized football in West Philadelphia nearly 40 years ago, with my own mother loading her car full of excited, cleat-wearing boys for our Saturday morning games.

So I immediately related to them. However, the Alliance related because Jameis Winston had maintained high academic standards throughout high school, and they had formed their non-profit, educational resource to help African-American scholar athletes to maintain their academic standards, while competing on the university level. That’s why we’ve never heard anything negative about Winston’s academics. The star athlete maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school and a reported 3.7 GPA at FSU, joining the ranks of Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle; Duke’s Shane Battier; Ohio State’s Tedd Ginn Jr.; Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy; North Carolina’s Ronald Curry; Washington’s Lorenzo Alexander; and many more who have come through their program.

The search committee for the NAAAA continues to seek talented, self-motivated African-American kids at the high school level to work diligently with the coaches, parents and athletic directors for the best student athlete results.

The Alliance Assistant Director Tyrone Tate explained that their mission is to help athletes and their parents to navigate an increasing tough terrain of university issues in academics, conduct and business. Like it or not, these talented athletes are now worth billions of dollars in annual sports and television-generated revenue.

So at the end of the night, parents and family members lined up in a restricted meeting area near the team busses to safeguard the lifelong investments in their kids with continued encouragement, love and support, while realizing that some of their guys will be worth millions of dollars as professionals in the years to come.

As expected, with his media interview requests after the game, Jameis Winston was the last player out of the locker rooms. I shook the young man’s hand with a brief introduction and couldn’t imagine myself going through the consistent parental monitoring of such a rare and special talent. I would rather my two sons learn how to become men on their own, with my guidance needed only from a distance. But neither of my two boys are Jameis Winston.

As Tyrone Tate explained it, “If you don’t take it upon yourself to protect your kid from the agents, hangers-on, girlfriends and everyone else who try to meet them after the games, you’ll find yourself at the mercy of people waiting to take advantage of them. That’s why we’re here to help assist them through the process with our experience and relationships.”

For more information about the National Alliance of African-American Athletes, visit:

Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction, and a professional journalist. He has published 27 books. To contact Omar Tyree, visit: