Otto Porter took a big leap during the 2015 Playoffs, averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds a game for the Washington Wizards. The former third overall pick in 2013 had a rather unique path to the NBA—one that started in the very small town of Sikeston in Southeast Missouri. In fact, there were only 32 students in Otto’s high school class. But that didn’t matter—not to the Porters, anyway. As a family, they put Sikeston on the map.
SLAM: Tell me a little bit about your hometown and how that influenced your development as a player.
Otto Porter: I don’t know where to start. I’m from a small area in Southeast Missouri, born and raised there. But I guess the thing about it is I have a big family on both sides—on my mom’s side and my dad’s side. They both had 13 brothers and sisters to be exact. And I guess my dad and his brothers just developed a thing for playing basketball. You know, my grandfather and my grandmother never played the game, so I guess it was just something for [my father and my uncles] to get into. And they kind of fell in love with the game and they played it all the time and it just became a family thing. And so I was born into that world, with both sides playing basketball, living in the same small area, going to the same high school.
SLAM: Can you recall when exactly you fell in love with basketball?
OP: I think it was when I got a little bit older. Of course, when I was younger I didn’t really pick up basketball that fast, I guess. I was more into soccer at the time. But once I got older and I started playing with some of my family members, some of my cousins, that’s when I really started to fall in love with the game. You know, at family get-togethers and stuff like that, just playing with my whole family in general—those were the best times that I had and that’s when I really fell in love with the game.
SLAM: Did you have any favorite courts growing up?
OP: Yeah, just one court at my grandmother’s house that we put together on the hill—that became our home court. I would ride my bike to [her] house just to practice on the court from 8 o’clock in the morning to like 9 at night. We’d be out there all day.
SLAM: Was there a specific player that you looked up to as a kid?
OP: There was one person—it was my dad. I grew up watching him playing in like rec leagues and little minor leagues with older guys, and just by watching him play I wanted to be like him.
SLAM: Were you really good early on or did it take a while for you to develop?
OP: I wouldn’t say early on but you know, I was always playing competition that was two, three years older than me and so when I played with guys my age, I was dominating because I always played up—always played against bigger, better guys than me. But I guess I started to really come into my own when I got into high school.
SLAM: Do you remember your first basketball?
OP: Man, long ago. I think actually my mom was the first person to put a basketball in my hands. Yeah, it came from my mom.
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