When the young E’Twaun Moore was out of line, not performing in school, or getting in trouble, his parents would pose the simple question: Do you want to be on the streets or do you want to do something positive?
By now, we all know the answer.
It wasn’t exactly easy for Moore to get to where he’s at today. The recently signed New Orleans Pelican grew up in a perilous neighborhood in East Chicago, IN, with his parents and his brother and sister. “Just everything was rough,” Moore told SLAM. “Everything was going on, from gang-banging and drugs to shootings and killings. You know, a lot of that was around me.”
On a crime index scale of 1-100 (100 being the safest a city can be), Neighborhood Scout gave East Chicago a 6. In other words, they posited that Moore’s hometown is safer than just 6 percent of cities in the United States. Your chances of being a victim of violent crime in East Chicago: 1 in 113.
One of E’Twaun’s best friends and teammates at E.C. Central High, Donte Brown, was murdered in East Chicago in 2009. It was devastating for Moore, who thought Brown had the potential to make it just as far as he has on the court. “That’s just an example of some of the things that happen,” E’Twaun explained.
East Chicago is just a short car ride from the United Center, where Moore played his home games the last two years. Like the small city in Indiana, Chicago has been riddled with gun violence. Many NBA players have taken a stand against this violence, including Jabari Parker and Dwyane Wade. On Friday, Wade’s first cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was fatally shot on the south side of Chicago when she got caught in the crossfire triggered by two men. She was pushing her baby in a stroller at the time.
“Of course, it’s definitely not good,” E’Twaun said of all the violent acts happening in Chicago. “Kids just need a lot more positive role models and positive things to see. All they see is negative things, you know, shootings and all the crime…I think if they had more positive influences around them, that would help some of the crime.”
For those lacking a positive role model, look no further than the subject of this piece. E’Twaun Moore was raised in a dangerous neighborhood. He grew up surrounded by violence. He was exposed to countless negative influences.
And he rose above it.
At 27, Moore is embarking on the next step of his long journey.
The versatile Moore had probably the best season of his NBA career in 2015-16, averaging 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.6 steals, while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 45.2 percent from deep (a team high).
He set career highs in points (24), steals (4), field-goals made (10) and minutes played in a single game (41). He recorded the most starts in a single season (22) since he entered the League in 2011. He scored in double-digits 14 times, including a memorable game at home against the Thunder.
On that particular night, March 5, 2015, Moore stole the spotlight. With the Bulls down one with five seconds remaining, Mike Dunleavy inbounded the ball to Pau Gasol on the post. The big man immediately drew a double team and kicked it out to an open E’Twaun in the near corner. Calm and collected, Moore gathered himself and knocked down a game-winning three to spoil a 43-point Westbrook performance.
“That was definitely one of the best moments of my career,” Moore said. He had 19 total points on 9-10 shooting in just 22 minutes. The game was nationally televised, so it was an eye-opener for many fans.
When asked to describe what kind of player he is, Moore chuckled and said: “Most people probably think I’m a shooter first.” After the OKC game, it’s hard not to. But E’Twaun is more than a shooter. He’s a “do it all” type guy, a scrappy competitor who can play multiple positions.
Upon signing a four-year deal worth $34 million, Moore is now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans; and with Eric Gordon headed to Houston, he is prepared to help fill the shooting void. Coach Alvin Gentry wants him to be a knockdown guy—a valuable asset to a team with a superstar like Anthony Davis drawing attention—as well as a communicator defensively.
Moore is ready to take the next step, telling SLAM that he hopes to compete for Most Improved or Sixth Man of the Year this season. “I definitely think I got a lot more growth and potential to be a lot better,” he stated. “There’s going to be a lot more fun and good years ahead.”