When the Los Angeles Lakers called Julius Randle’s name with the No. 7 pick last night, Carolyn Kyles, his mother, had no words. “She couldn’t really say anything. She was just screaming,” Randle said after coming off the stage.
For the 30 men whose NBA careers began last night, family represents the support system that got them up on that stage. And now they have the chance to give back.
“My mom’s been my biggest fan since day one, she’s always been there for me,” Randle said. “It definitely will mean a lot to take care of her and pay her back for what she’s done.”
Randle and his fellow draftees were surrounded by family and friends hugging and high-fiving them. But there was one embrace that was especially significant between a father and son, one that we’ve seen before.
No. 11 pick Doug McDermott had the unique experience of playing for his father, Greg McDermott, at Creighton. McDermott surpassed the 3,000 point mark this past season, and his father was there watching on the sidelines.
“We had some great memories, it was definitely a learning experience for both of us,” Doug said.
He will now be playing under Tom Thibodeau, one of the great NBA coaches, in Chicago, and the 6’8” sharpshooter said he is prepared for a change.
“It’s bittersweet breaking away from my father, but I think we’re both ready for the next step,” he said. “It was a great four years with him.”
For McDermott, it was his father who cultivated his love for the game. But for No. 23 pick Rodney Hood, watching his older brother play showed him the type of player he wanted to become.
“I watched him grow up through high school and college, the dos and don’t’s,” Hood said. “He was a team captain and that’s something I wanted to be, and I was able to be [that] at Duke.”
Hood’s brother was there to watch him walk across the stage, but some draftees drew their inspiration from friends and family who are no longer with them. Most notably, No. 15 pick Adreian Payne paid tribute to Lacy Holsworth—a young Michigan State fan who lost her battle with Leukemia—by stitching her name on the inside of his suit jacket. Payne also said he would be thinking about his grandmother, who was a strong advocate for Payne to stay in school, despite his talent on the court.
“I made a promise to [her] that I was going to graduate,” Payne said.
Payne was one of only a few first-rounders who graduated from college. Joining him in that group was the No. 24,pick, Shabazz Napier, who won the NCAA Championship in both his freshman and senior years at UConn.
Napier had his mother, brother, sister, and niece at his side last night, all people who watched him graduate just a month ago as well.
“I’m a family-oriented guy, and life would definitely be meaningless without my family,” Napier said.