It's Monday afternoon at Phoenix Footprint Center.Center It is now locked.
He isn't focused on the upcoming match against the team.The next day, he was either thinking about a playoff run or worrying about the contract negotiations with Suns. He is currently focusing on which video game he will play first.
Ayton, 23 years old, is a serious player of video games. Gaming has been his best friend, his therapist, and his No. 1 fan. Ayton has found that gaming helps him navigate the challenges in his physical world.
Ayton said, “I don’t believe I could live without it and that’s real talk.”
Ayton is standing in the Annexus Social Club's lounge, which was hidden from view for VIP ticket holders who wanted to cheer on their favorite team. He has his controller in his hand and scans the list of games that have been preloaded to his PlayStation 5. Ayton has a childlike glow in his eyes, and a slight smile crosses his lips. Ayton plays his favourite game, NBA 2K22.
Ayton chooses one of the approximately 10 Deandre Aytons that he has created for almost every position on the court in the lobby. He enters a game, looking for his headset to listen to what is being said by his virtual teammates.
“I want these dudes to talk s***!”
Ayton dress his player in a silver-shining suit with blinged-out jewel that looks like his real-life pieces. He also wears black Crocs and purple googly-eyed sunglasses to walk around The Neighborhood. He stops.
“Wait! Where's my Tiger?”
His mother called him Tiger when he was a baby. The computerized DeandreAyton is not as silly as it seems. However, there's something that makes him feel a little familiar. Dominayton is the leader on the NBA 2K court. He's a thrill-seeker, who will try any new moves that can either get him a lot of praise from his peers, or make him return to the gamebook. In real life, Deandre Ayton isn't afraid to follow the cues of his virtual doppelgänger. He's known for his dominance on the court, with an average of 18.8 points per contest and 9.2 rebounds per match this postseason. His practice sessions on his PS5 are usually the beginning.
It's almost as if you go on YouTube and see your favorite player doing the same thing over and over again, or Kobe doing the same fade. Ayton says that you want it to be like that. “I go out and try to do the exact same thing,” Ayton says.
Ayton's dedication to playing NBA 2K is evident as he shows it on the big screen. Ayton says family is his first priority. As the father of a one-year-old son, Ayton makes sure to make time for Anissa Evans and Deandre Jr. Then, he will settle down for several hour each day to play NBA 2K. Ayton was able to achieve Legend status after he reached Level 40 in four seasons. Ayton believes he's only NBA player to be a Legend.
Ayton states, “I don’t know how it happened this year. I had a child. But I did it.”
Ayton usually wakes up at 6 a.m., after getting only two hours sleep. After breakfast, there's some time for gaming before going to work. It's then back home to continue talking trash and practicing moves online. Ayton stays focused on game days but still has time for video games.
Ayton says, “It's so difficult for me to sleep after long, especially long, games.” “I don’t know why but I spend my time playing the game. Some of my friends connect with me. I had brothers in the UK. I had family in Jamaica, and the Bahamas. We have a lot of fun talking about the game. We laugh and talk about the person we beat up. It's so serious that I don't go to bed before 4 or 5 a.m.
VIDEO GAMES ARE A REFUGE FOR AYTONSince he was a young boy growing up in the Bahamas, he has been playing video games. Andrew, his older brother, was a regular player and he beat all levels of most of the games he owned.
Ayton states, “Any game that was popular, they had it.”
Alvin, Ayton's stepfather, gave him a brand new PlayStation when he was 11. But he soon decided to give up the console and pursue a new hobby: basketball. Ayton signed up for the Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp Monday. Alvin says that by Tuesday and Wednesday, the scouts were visiting the family home to speak about their son.
Alvin said, “The people there saw his height.” He was about the same height as older men. He looked 11 years old, but people thought he looked 16-years-old.
Ayton began to prepare to move to America to pursue hoops by the end the summer. They ultimately chose to attend the Balboa School in Escondido (California). Ayton was grateful for this opportunity but didn’t know how difficult the program would be. Ayton would be able to receive a free education in a private school, and would also have the opportunity to improve his skills as a player. However, the program was very strict.
“[The program]It was school but not the gym or running a race track. We didn't sign up to that. We heard about free education. We ain't hear labor. “Hold on, what's this?” I am like that.
Ayton was unable to get over the feeling of being in isolation in a foreign country. Ayton says that he was quickly bullied for his height and Bahamian accent. Worst of all, he didn’t have his PlayStation so he could stay connected with his friends and family online.
Ayton states, “I felt alienated from the outside world due to the way I play, where I'm from and the size and color of my body.” I felt like I didn't have anyone when I arrived in the United States at such a young age. It's a feeling of belonging that you feel, but children don't want you to be around them.
He was overwhelmed by feelings like loneliness and rejection. Ayton realized that he was experiencing bouts of anxiety as well as depression.
Ayton said, “I would never wish it on anybody.” “That kind of stuff makes a hole inside your heart. You may have a big heart but no one sees it. The heart is what you give, but the heart is what you get back. That was my experience at a young age. I didn't want to be here. “I didn't want it to be here.”
“I'm like, ain't no console. This mug is my only friend. Is there a video game? A basketball. That's it. Basketball and books. It was hard,” he said. “I was the only one who got serious about basketball, and that was because I had no one. I haven't had anything, and playing basketball was really my only outlet to really have fun.
Andrea, Andrea's mother, also admitted that it was hard for her.
“There were times when he said, “Mommy I'm tired.” “I want to go home.” As a mother, he heard me tell him that things would get better. He was a new person after the conversations. It was difficult. It was difficult. It was very real stress.
Ayton was 15 years old and became an outstanding player on the hardwood. Soon, his mother moved to America in order to be closer to her child. Ayton was also blessed with a new PlayStation 4 by his host family. Ayton shared his gamer tag with anyone who would listen and found new friends and family that he hadn't seen in three years. His community was back.
“I took care of that [PS4]Ayton says, “Every day, clean the vent every single day.”
HIGH SCHOOLAyton shared his plans to become a major basketball player in chatrooms online. He was going for it.
“They thought I was talking the most s*** ever,” Ayton says.
Ayton kept in touch online with some of his closest friends, including mutual friends from the Bahamas. Other people were strangers who laughed as a teenager fantasized about his dreams of being the best 10th-grader in the country, and how he would be drafted in the NBA.
Although some people continued to treat Ayton's dreams lightly there were two gamers, Recarno and Joshua Russell from Ayton’s homeland who listened and encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
Ayton says, “It was 4 AM one morning, and I can recall it like it was yesterday.” “I was like, “Yo, bro. You've always been there to me. When they go through that draft I'm going be the No. 1 pick. “I'm going make sure you're there along with me.”
After years of planning his future, it was finally time. The center, who is 6'11” tall and 250 lbs, was born inhad been drafted No. Suns.
Russell kept Ayton's word.
Ayton states, “That was the first time that I met that dude.”
Ayton's gaming friends helped him get through some of the most difficult times in his basketball career. His name was mentioned in the FBI's 2017-18 freshman year of college.In college basketball, which included the University of Arizona. A wiretap recording of a conversation between Christian Dawkins, a former runner and an aspiring business manager, and Munish Sood, a business partner, was recorded during a Dawkins claimed in 2019 that Sean Miller, the former Arizona basketball coach, “fronted a deal” to get Ayton signed by the Wildcats. (Dawkins was convicted in connection with conspiracy and bribery. Miller and Ayton denied these claims.
As a rookie in the NBA, Ayton also relied on gaming. In the 2018-2019 season, the Suns failed to find their rhythm and won only 19 games. They finished last in Western Conference.
Ayton said, “I wasn’t used losing.” “I'm like, “Oh, this is the NBA. You lose every game.' They came quickly and I was stressing like “Bro, we lost man.” They told me that there were 81 more. We lost again. “You have 80 more steps to go, bro.”
Ayton turned to NBA 2K. Ayton could redeem himself in the NBA 2K game even if his team failed to win IRL.
There are, however, some good news. This wasLet's hope for the next season. Ayton's average of 16.3 points was impressive. He also had 10.3 rebounds. Fans were eager for his second season. Ayton was a shining star in the 2019-2020 season opener. He scored 18 points, 11 rebounds, and had 4 blocks in a 124–95 Suns victory over the Suns..
Ayton found out that he had violated league anti-drug policies after testing positive for diuretics. A 25-game suspension was his punishment.
“It is the worst time to be a player, I tell you.” [NBA 2K]Ayton stated that it was during suspension.[Those]I was being attacked by kids. I decided to play the basketball game that reflects everything about the NBA. I was attacked by children. I can't even say the lions' den. It was the devil’s Pit, and I was beaten daily while playing the game.
Deandre should be exercising, but he is over here.
No wonder he was suspended.
Ayton said, “I'm hearing all that.” “My back is against the wall, but it's still fun to play this game. I don’t care. I don't care if you see me in the video game. You're in the middle of 100 people who hate you and yell at you. You can be anyone you want to be in the gaming universe. [Those]People will tell you all about your ansies.”
Ayton was in good playing condition. But his time spent on video games increased from just four to five hours per week to nearly 24 hours per day. Ayton was reinstated from suspension but the NBA season was soon suspended indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ayton was able to handle uncertainty better than many players. After learning that his girlfriend was pregnant, he decided to spend some time with his baby while he joined his bubble team. He was concerned but everything would work out as long as his games were played.
Ayton states, “Dudes were not used to that.” They don't like to sit still for too long and not be able to enjoy the game. It was obvious that they were going insane in there. They didn't know where to turn. Dudes tried to enjoy the outdoors, but couldn't figure out what to do. It's going be the same view as bro. You won't see anything else than the pond. I'm now over here, playing the game. I'm going have a lot of fun, and talking trash. This game saved me from the bubble.
BACK AT THE ANNEXUS CLUBAyton now kills zombies in World War Z.
Ayton laughs, “I play World War Z” “It's a serious thing. It can get quite scary. They are loud, ugly, and they can be quite frightening. [those]Take the bad things out of your life and make them disappear.
Ayton, holding the controller in his hand, stands up and shows a different kind of focus while playing this game. He is very strategic in some areas. Ayton needs to think fast when zombies have overtaken his character in other areas. Ayton makes sure his character survives even when he is caught off guard.
Ayton states, “I'm competing against people that hate me.” “I feel hated up until now, but it doesn't mean that I don't get down on my self. No. “I just want to prove that you are wrong.”
Ayton has been the dominant player in this year's playoff race. The Suns lead the way by 3-2He was in the Western Conference semifinals and is one of the most popular playoff shooters in the league. In Game 5, Ayton logged his 13th career playoff game with 20 points while shooting 60% from the field, the second-most by any Suns player in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Ayton states, “Oh, it's feeling confident.”
His future in Phoenix remains a question mark. The Suns extended their contract negotiations with Ayton last fall. Ayton wanted a five-year contract that would guarantee $172.5 million.. However, he's not too concerned about where he might end-up this offseason.
He says, “That's just the way it is, period. Just knowing that you must take care of business to get what your want.”
Ayton relies on his family to keep him grounded as the Suns struggle throughout the playoffs. Ayton and his son share a room while on the road. Ayton Jr. and Anissa have settled into a routine. They play basketball on the hotel floor with their toys. Anissa watches Netflix. Deandre takes a break while Dominayton manages the virtual court. Deandre can be found at peace in these moments.
“Gaming keeps my head level. This is not something I will ever lose. As if you were on the road right now. … Ayton states that it's a “load off” where you can play the game, then chill out and get back to work. It's video games and basketball. This is what keeps me focused so that I can enjoy this sport.