by Adam Figman | @afigman
SLAM: Tell us a little about your hometown and the impact it had on you.
Austin Daye: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Irvine in high school. I think it had a pretty big impact. I was able to adjust because I lived in L.A. before that, then I went to Orange County, which is pretty cool. Different, but I liked it. I got to adjust to different people, different atmospheres. But all around, it was a pretty good experience.
SLAM: Are there any notable spots that you spent a lot of time at?
AD: I’d hang out with friends at the beach a lot. And the Spectrum—that’s the biggest place in Irvine. Those places and the gym.
SLAM: Were you a gym rat when you were growing up, or did you not get into that until you got older?
AD: I was definitely a gym rat in middle school and high school. My dad was part of a sports club in Irvine, and I was there almost every day after school, working out with my dad and some other guys.
SLAM: Your dad, Darren, played both in the NBA and abroad. What kind of role did he have as you were coming up?
AD: He’s my biggest role model. I’ve looked at a lot of things that he’s done in his career and tried to correct some things and make adjustments to what he’s done. I try to use him as an example and follow his footsteps as best as I can.
SLAM: Did you go one-on-one with him a lot when you were a kid?
AD: Yeah, of course. All the time.
SLAM: Did he let you win?
AD: No, never. Not until I was like 17, and I started beating him.
SLAM: You remember the first time you beat him?
AD: It was my junior year. It was right before the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) playoffs, and I told my dad, We need to start playing one-on-one every day. And he was like, “OK, OK.” And for the first week, I would lose close games, and then I was beating him in some of the games. Before he used to let me score in certain situations, and he told me, “Austin, you’re getting really good.” I was like, “Yeah, but you’re letting me score.” And he was like, “No, I’m really not.” I was like, “Oh, really?!”
SLAM: At what point during the whole process did you realize basketball could be your job?
AD: When I started being recruited, and then during my senior year my averages were pretty crazy—they were like 31 and 14 per game. Then I think nbadraft.net projected me as a pretty high pick. Then freshman year and sophomore year I just played to the best of my abilities. I was improving every year, so I knew there was no reason why that wasn’t a route I could go.
SLAM: When you were growing up, who was the one guy you had to watch on television?
AD: Paul Pierce. I just really liked his game. He wasn’t the fastest, wasn’t the most athletic, but he was always able to get to where he wanted to get to and be able to score, and he was scoring at will when he was in the Playoffs back then.
SLAM: I saw you were running some basketball camps this summer in Irvine.
AD: Yeah, it’s a yearly thing I do in Irvine. The whole situation we have going over there is really good, just giving back to some kids and helping out the community.
SLAM: Do you get to do any other charity work?
AD: Nah, I haven’t been able to do anything else except for that, but I wanna get involved with Multiple Sclerosis. My mom has MS, so I want to get involved in that as much as I can in the next couple years.