What a year it's been for Sean Kilpatrick, who went from an obscure basketball player to a 10-day contract signee on the Brooklyn Nets to now a current and future building block on the team who decided to take a chance on him. Kilpatrick has fit right in with the Nets, while also becoming a fan favorite.
His journey has been well documented, as has his motivation. But, now, we're learning that he's gotten a little help from, arguably, one of the best possible resources, in New York Yankees great Derek Jeter.
Not only is Jeter a friend and mentor to Kilpatrick, he's also family.
"You can say he’s one of my mentors, but a family member as well," Kilpatrick said after working out at the HSS Training Center this week.
Kilpatrick, who was signed by the Nets in March of this year, is related to Derek Jeter and has developed a relationship with him over the years. "My little brother -- his grandmother is Derek’s aunt," Kilpatrick explained.
"He always reached out -- especially when I was in college and headed into the D-League. Being able to be around him and see how he works and see how he handles everything from media talk to being around other people, it’s something amazing."
You can argue whether or not he's one of the all-time greatest athletes to every play the game of baseball, but what you can't argue is that he's one of the most well-grounded athletes to ever have played in New York City. Someone as high profile as him, he came off as genuine and well-grounded for most all of his 20 seasons in the Majors.
"One thing he’s always said to me was always make sure that you’re doing the right things and make sure that you’re staying out of trouble," Kilpatrick said.
"He’s one of those guys that everywhere you go, everyone loves him," Kilpatrick said. "When you have a guy like that, who’s really open and not someone who’s going to be like ‘I don’t want to take a picture today,’ or ‘I don’t want to be dealt with today,’ he’s always taking pictures non-stop with fans."
Kilpatrick has modeled that approach for his own interactions with fans.
"That’s something that goes a long way," he said. "Not only that, but you just made that kid’s day -- being able to take 10 seconds out of your time to do that. The way I handle things -- especially with fans -- I get a lot of that from him."
That's some brilliant perspective. What this is all about, it's the fans, not the fame. And as long as he keeps putting in the work, keeps grounded, keeps hanging out with Jeter, he should be alright.
- Sean Kilpatrick Opens Up About Derek Jeter Mentorship - Kathryn Przybyla - Brooklyn Nets