Juvenile to Stardom
The story of John Wall’s incredible journey to the NBA.
There is 7 seconds on the clock, the crowd is dead silent, all was quiet in DC. Wall and his Wizards are down by 2 to the number one seeded Boston Celtics. If they lose, their playoff run is over, if they win they can force a Game 7. Seven seconds to force a Game 7. The pressure could not be higher on this possession. As the ball is passed in the clock ticks away. Wall is given the ball and is immediately matched up against the Celtics star defender, Avery Bradley. He looks him in the eye, takes a step forward, and fires from beyond three. As the ball sails through the air everyone in Washington DC gasps for breath and then… Swoosh. John Wall just added another step in his legacy.
When you look at what he’s done in his NBA career so far, it’s no question that Wall is one of the top players in the league, but it wasn’t easy for him to get where he is. Growing up in North Carolina he was always told that he was just like his father, John Carroll Wall. This was not a good thing as his dad was convicted of second degree murder just 8 years before Wall was born. Then, just 3 weeks after he was born, his father committed armed robbery at a store. For the next 9 years John was only able to see his father behind bars until he was finally released due to the fact that he was terminally ill with liver cancer. John’s last memory of his father was seeing him rolled away on a stretcher as he died while they were on vacation.
After all of this John, swore he would never become the man his father was. That being said, in the following years it was evident that he was filled with rage and resentment. It was not soon after that he would be given the nickname CrazyJ as he was an absolute star in his early basketball career, but a criminal off the court. It was around the age of 13 that John started to get into trouble almost every day. He was doing stupid stuff like getting in fights, breaking into cars, getting shot at in confrontations, and even shooting back. It was at this point that John almost completely lost himself before one day, changing everything. All of a sudden, he wasn’t getting into fights, wasn’t committing crimes, and was turning the other cheek. John claims this change came because of his mother that always kept telling him “don’t be like your father.”
While he was a changed man now, he reputation still followed him around. In high school, he was cut from the team as he was seen as “too much trouble” for the coach to handle. Because of this he transferred to a Christian academy where he would begin working on building his new image.
This payed off for Wall as he was soon being recruited by every college in the nation before finally deciding to play for the Kentucky Wildcats. It finally seemed like John was on the path to success, the path to a NBA superstar. All was going well until his only year in college where he was charged with breaking and entering. At the time it seemed like he may be slipping back into his old ways, slipping back into CrazyJ. However, come to find out what had really happened was John had broken into an abandoned house to spend some time with a girl and was caught in the act. While these charges would eventually be dropped, John would have to prove himself yet again to everyone. It was because of this incident that he signed up for summer classes in the upcoming semester where he would study and finish with a perfect 4.0.
In 2010 John Wall was taken as the number one pick in the NBA Draft, but he didn’t stop there. He would continue to work himself harder and harder every day. He would get up at 6am, work on his body in the weight room, then shoot thousands of jump shots on the court. He had no quit in him. The man wanted to be one of the great point guards of all time. This commitment is evident in his performance on the court as year after year after year John continues to get better. In his rookie season, he averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 40% from the field and 29% from three. Now, in his 2017 season, John averaged a whopping 23.1 points, 10.7 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 45% from the field and a much improved 33% from three.
There are many things that make Wall great as a player. Numbers are one thing, but Wall is one of the most athletic players in the league. There has been a huge discussion as to whether or not he is the fastest player in the league. I think there is no question about it. What other player can start a fast break off of a made shot? For those who don’t know, when a shot is made you have to take it out of bounds and pass it back in for your next possession. John can get this pass and take the ball all the way down court before the other team even gets back there. That’s how fast he is. Not only is he this fast, but he can also finish under the basket with the best in the league and he has debatably the best vision in the game. There are only a select few players who are able to average double digit assist numbers. All of this combined with his ability to get steals on a consistent basis make him one of the most dynamic players to touch the court on a daily basis.
All of this hard work and dedication led John to becoming the number 5 player in this year’s MVP discussion. Had it not been for Russel Westbrook and James Harden both having record breaking seasons, John Wall may have been in the voting. I know he certainly would have if he had put up these numbers just 3 seasons ago. All of that being said Wall and his Wizards were eliminated by the Celtics in this year’s playoffs. I don’t think this is the end for John Wall. Seeing all of the hard work has already put in I think that this loss is just going to fuel him even more and I expect him to come back next season even better than he was this year. The struggles he has been through have shaped him into the hard-working star that he is today and I believe John Wall will fulfill his dream of being remembered as one of the greats.