Washington, DC-area product Ty Lawson took advantage of a tough, competitive environment growing up to make it all the way to the NBA.
by Adam Figman | @afigman
SLAM: Tell us a little about your hometown.
Ty Lawson: I’m from the DMV—DC, Maryland, VA, [but] everybody calls it the DMV. I grew up in Bonnywood, close to Waldorf, MD. That’s where I grew up. You know, it’s tough out here.
SLAM: Was the basketball really competitive?
TL: Oh yeah, definitely. My dad was in the military so I played at the Andrews Air Force Base, at the Boys and Girls Club. From there I went to Silver Spring, which is where I met up with Kevin [Durant] and teamed up with him. We played against Michael Beasley, who played with DC Assault, and we were their rivals. It was me and KD against Nolan [Smith] and Mike Beas. It was real competitive out here.
SLAM: When you were playing with those guys back in high school, did you have any idea you’d all be battling in the pros one day?
TL: I knew everybody was good, but I didn’t know we were all gonna make it to the League, so it’s a blessing that we all did. That’s why I think we all stick together—me, Mike, Nolan and Kevin are friends, we hang out and always talk to each other to make sure everybody else is good. That rivalry turned into a friendship.
SLAM: Were there any specific spots where you spent lots of time as a kid?
TL: The Run N Shoot. From middle school into high school, that’s where I was. I worked out and you could always find me there in the mornings, the evenings. That’s where I always was. It’s in Forestville, MD.
SLAM: Were there guys playing in the NBA from the DMV area who you looked up to?
TL: DerMarr Johnson, he was in the League, and Steve Francis. That’s who I looked up to. [Francis] was one of my favorite players when he was playing, especially for Orlando. That was my favorite player.
SLAM: How tough was the decision to go to Oak Hill and finish high school there?
TL: Man, that was the hardest decision I’ve made in my life. We actually packed all my stuff and put it in the van, and I was like, Man, you gotta drag me outta here and take me there. Especially my second year back, there was no way I wanted to go. I came to school probably three or four days late—they finally convinced me—but I wanted to stay home, and have, what’s it called, when you’re a senior? Prom! I wanted to go to prom! I wanted to go to a public school. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to Oak Hill.
SLAM: So what changed your mind?
TL: Just speaking to people, like my mentor Keith Stevens. He told me some people gotta make sacrifices in life in order to make a better life. That’s one of the sacrifices I made—going to Oak Hill for two years. The average high school student would never do that. That’s a big sacrifice and it helped me out a lot in life.
SLAM: Why’d you decide to attend UNC?
TL: Well, I was cool with Wayne Ellington and Brandan Wright, and we all wanted to go to the same school. And plus, I saw an opening at the point guard spot, and that was a good situation. The thing that really got me to go there was the year that they won the championship, Coach [Roy] Williams drove up to Oak Hill I think a day or a day and a half later, and he was in the office just trying to talk to me about coming there. That just showed dedication and that he wanted me to be there, so I had to go after that.
SLAM: If you could watch one guy play while you were growing up, who would it have been?
TL: I’ll say Allen Iverson, on and off the court. You always remember when he was talking about practice, I mean everybody remembers that, so on and off the court. I was definitely on that Fisher Price trying to hit the crossover, the game-winning shot just like him. He had a heavy influence on basketball in general, and especially on my game when I was younger.