Between the glitz and glamour and million-dollar paychecks, people often forget that NBA players are regular people too. When looking from afar, you see a guy playing basketball on TV with millions of fans and millions of dollars.
It’s easy to dismiss the everyday challenges and triumphs they face, just like you and me.
The reason I bring this up is because I came across a wonderful story about Spencer Dinwiddie and a longtime fan. It’s a story that depicts a player who made it big but didn’t forget where he came from or the people who were with him from day one.
And it’s just another reason to root for Spencer Dinwiddie, a regular guy… just like you and me.
Meet Austin Vojta, a 16-year-old die-hard fan of the Colorado Buffaloes from Boulder, Colorado. Austin was a die-hard fan of the CU college basketball team and would spend most of his off-time going to games or watching from home. He recounts stories of running two miles through the blistering cold to watch his favorite player: Spencer Dinwiddie.
“From the day he committed, and I saw his highlights and interviews… he became my favorite player. How does this tie into me?” he asks rhetorically. “I was never athletic in high school. I had to get by with the mental aspects of the game and that’s why I appreciated Spencer’s game so much. Suffice it to say that my absolute favorite players to watch are the ones that rely on their instincts and decision-making.”
Austin, who referred to himself as a “loner” in high school, would friend all the CU basketball players on Facebook. One of them happened to be Dinwiddie, whose jersey he was dying to get his hands on.
During his sophomore his of high school at age 16, Austin begged his parents to get him a No. 25 CU jersey for Christmas, but they were near impossible to find.
So, Austin took it upon himself to open his Facebook page one night and message Spencer, asking how he could get his hands on a jersey.
Even Dinwiddie himself didn’t have the right answer, so Austin told him to hit him up once he reached the NBA ranks. Spencer answered with, “I got u.”
Dinwiddie spent three seasons at Colorado before committing to the NBA after tearing his ACL during his junior year. Over the span of two plus years, he bounced around from the Pistons to the Bulls, ultimately ending up with the Brooklyn Nets.
When Austin realized Dinwiddie might have found a home in Brooklyn, he decided to shoot Dinwiddie a message five years later. He didn’t expect a jersey. He was just happy to connect.
But Spencer wanted to fulfill the promise he made to one of his biggest fans since day one.
Five years after – from The University of Colorado, to the Detroit Pistons, to the Chicago Bulls and finally to the Brooklyn Nets, Dinwiddie kept his promise.
Now, a grey Brooklyn Nets alternate jersey hangs on Austin’s wall. He was a 16-year-old in high school when he first sent the message. He’s now 21-years-old working a full-time job in Texas with a story he’ll have the rest of his life.
It’s present day and Austin is telling me about Dinwiddie’s days at CU. He’s able to rattle off a whole timeline of events from Spencer’s freshman, sophomore and junior years in college. He even goes into detail about Dinwiddie’s style of play and why he appreciates it so much.
Not much has changed since college to now.
But perhaps there’s more to all of this than just Spencer’s high basketball IQ that makes Austin such a fan. Maybe there was an underlying connection between Austin and Spencer being the underdogs in their respective lives.
And this is what makes somebody like Spencer Dinwiddie so great. He reminds us how these professional athletes are still humans, still people, just like us. He clearly has a good heart and understands that there were -- and still are -- people out there rooting for him since day one.
Especially the underdog.
“If I had to say one thing to Spencer today, I would just tell him, ‘Man, I’m just so happy things worked out for you.’ That jersey will forever be up on my wall showcasing the care and kindness of my favorite player in the league! And really, just a thank you.”