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Markel Brown's journey from despair to the NBA

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Things have been tough so far for Markel Brown this season.  He broke his hand in the summer, then had a stomach virus set him back in training camp. After he hit his first shot, a three-pointer, vs. San Antonio, he suffered a hip-pointer which kept him home for the Philly game.

But compared to his life growing up in Louisiana, his time in Brooklyn has been easy going.

"All types of things," Brown told Tim Bontemps when asked about his life in Louisiana.. "Who is going to be there for my sister? My dad is in and out of jail. My grandma’s not working, so who is going to pay the bills? My grandpa is getting old, so he’s not able to work much longer. Family members dying."

The biggest tragedies in a long series for Brown were the early deaths of his mother, from an aneurysm at age 8, and uncle, who rushed into a burning house to rescue two elderly women but died himself. His father was in and out of jail growing up  He was raised by his grandmother, who he credits with his success as a player and person.

"She was the best," Brown said. "She didn’t have to take on two kids after she raised eight herself. … She was the type of person that opened arms to anyone. Guys out the neighborhood, anyone was welcome in our house. If you’re stopping by she’ll make you a plate [of food]. … She’s that type of grandma."

But there were times he said when there wasn't enough money to pay the phone bills and other basics.  Basketball got him out of Alexandria, LA, and into Oklahoma State where he made the All Big 12 team and got his degree.

The Nets are still high on Brown and expect him to get more playing time soon.  Despite it all, Brown tells Bontemps he's still "hungry" and so far, that's worked for him.