When I first started playing basketball back in Australia, I was four or five years old. At first I was too scared to actually get on the court and play because I was one of the youngest kids. I was always dragged from gym to gym because of my dad, who played professionally in Australia. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the game.
My dad taught me everything I know about basketball. He used to coach me a lot when I was younger, and one thing he taught me was to always dribble the ball. Even though I was one of the bigger guys, he knew once I grew that it would be a big asset for me. There aren’t many guys who are 6' 10" and can do that. I always listen to my dad. He’s definitely put me in the right position to continue getting better every day.
When I was 16, I moved to the States to go to high school at Montverde Academy [in Florida]. I got pretty homesick, but my coach, Kevin Boyle, helped me a lot. I met a lot of people there and played with some great players, like Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell.
After high school, going to LSU was a big decision. It wasn’t the typical Kentucky or Duke or school like that. I wanted to go somewhere different and not be a follower. That was LSU. I felt very comfortable with the coach, the players, and everybody there. I’m glad I went there because I learned so much about playing basketball and being a good person.
The decision to leave college after one year was really made when I was five or six years old. I wrote on a piece of paper that I wanted to play in the NBA. As soon as I had the opportunity and knew I would be a high pick, I took that.
Making Becoming: Ben Simmons has been special. It’s a blessing to be part of a series with big names such as Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Alex Morgan. I’m still becoming Ben Simmons, but I’m glad I was able to show kids around the world my story and how I got to where I am today.
Photograph by Mike Stobe/Getty Images