Tim Duncan
Keith Allison / Flickr.com

This might come as a surprise, but one of the best basketball players to play the game didn’t always have b-ball set as the ultimate goal. Tim Duncan started out as a swimmer and began playing basketball in the ninth grade after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the pool at Duncan’s home in the Virgin Islands. And now Duncan is considered to be one of the greatest power forwards of all time. Duncan is a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP, and NBA Rookie of the Year. Not to mention, he is also a 15-time NBA All-Star and the only player to ever be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams in every one of his 13 career seasons.

And to no surprise, Duncan’s greatness follows him off the court as well. Duncan is known for his active philanthropic endeavors. He created the Tim Duncan Foundation to raise general health awareness and fund education and youth sports in various locations in the United States.

Hurricane Hugo shook Duncan’s life and represented a huge turning point – some good and others bad. Regardless it was all entirely life changing. Since the hurricane destroyed Duncan’s pool, he was forced to swim in the ocean. However, Duncan’s fear of sharks weighed on his emotions and drive to swim. Soon he gave it up and ended up turning to basketball as a physical outlet and interest. Then Duncan and his family were dealt another difficult blow when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died one day prior to Duncan’s 14th birthday. During her last days alive, Duncan’s mother made Duncan and his sisters promise to finish college with a degree. When it was time for Duncan to go to college he choose Wake Forest University. Unlike many other prep-to-pro players like Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant, Duncan stayed in college all four years – keeping his vow to his mother. During that time Duncan became a two-time ACC Player of the Year and a three-time NABC Defensive Player of the Year.

“Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until your Good is Better, and your Better is your Best.”
The NBA great would go on to join the Spurs and become one of the most prolific athletes to play the game. On December 2, 2013, while playing his fifth championship, Duncan became the oldest player to record a 20-20 game in NBA history – he finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds and of course the game-winning jump shot against the Atlanta Hawks. After winning the Finals in five games, Duncan joined John Salley as the only two players to win a championship in three different decades. Duncan not only has astounding statistics, but he has gained a reputation as a great clutch player because he’s extremely versatile.

Duncan is very active with The Tim Duncan Foundation. In interviews, Duncan has cited his late mother as the main inspiration behind his success and drive to make a difference through his foundation. Growing up his mother taught him and his sisters the nursery rhyme, “Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until your Good is Better, and your Better is your Best.” Duncan has often quoted this saying and recognizes it as his own personal motto. Through this rhyme, he’s developed the three most important values which he recognizes as dedication, teamwork and camaraderie.

Through that mentality of dedication, teamwork and camaraderie Duncan has created true greatness within his career and the support he provides to the community.

The Tim Duncan Foundation states in their mission statement that they can make a huge difference in the lives of San Antonians with the funds that are raised. The foundation helps to support many worthwhile programs such as the Tim Duncan Character Program which is implemented in San Antonio school to help recognize the students that demonstrate strong character values and civic responsibility. The foundation has expanded and includes St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Winston-Salem N.C area schools that are near Wake Forest University. There’s no doubt that Duncan is focused on giving back to those influential areas.

Duncan is more than just a successful basketball player – he’s a hero. Not only has he mastered the game of the NBA, but he’s also inspired and changed the lives of others who needed hope.

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