You root for guys like Markel Brown.
Growing up with a passion for basketball, Brown had something special. His high school coach, Charles Smith at Central Louisiana’s, Peabody Magnet, knew Brown was a different kind of player. "Markel broke his right wrist in the eighth grade, and he was so dedicated to basketball that he started shooting the ball with his left hand. He became as great a left-handed shooter as he did a right-handed shooter," Smith told Mike Mazzeo. "So that let me know that this kid was determined to be a basketball player."
Along with his love for the game, Brown’s determination comes from inspiration. As a 15 year-old, he suffered a series of tragedies. First it was his mother, Antoinette, who had been sick her entire life. She passed away in December of 2006 having complications from a brain aneurysm.
Just two months later it was his uncle David, who was trying to save two elderly women from a house fire. His uncle David was more of a father figure than his biological father, who was in and out of jail.
After that, Brown stayed with his grandmother, Jerrie Mae Eggins. His grandmother knew how much Markel’s uncle meant to him, how he went to most of Markel’s basketball games and taught him how to drive. "They were really close," she told Mazzeo.
Luckily, Brown had his grandmother to make proud, Mazzeo reports. Shortly after the Nets drafted him, Brown called Eggins to tell her the great news. "I just started shedding tears. He told me, 'Mama, I made it.' And I told him, 'you have to thank the lord. You thank the lord, and you get to wherever you gotta go. Don't ever give up on God.'"
"It’s great to be able to make it through all the adversity and all of those things that could’ve stopped me," Brown said. "It's a blessing. I feel really fortunate."
Brown was the 44th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, meaning no guaranteed deal. But he impressed the Nets in the Orlando Summer League, averaging 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists, while shooting 53 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. He surprised Nets brass with his passing, backing up his claim he can play some point guard.
His role and expectations for next season are unknown, but having dealt with so much adversity over the span of his young life, it seems like he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
- Brown, just beginning, has come so far - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York