Gary Payton II’s success as a Golden State Warriors player was made possible by a lifelong struggle

JUST SEVENT MONTHSAn important role player on a club that wanted to return to its dynastic reign, and the son of Seattle Supersonics' legend. Gary Payton, was about to apply for a desk position in the video department of the team.

Seven months ago.

Gary Payton II30-year-old Jeremy has experienced a lot of rejection in his basketball career. He was cut from his teams four times over six years and spent five more years in the NBA's G League.

He'd just had his hair cut again.

Payton saw an opportunity in the Golden State WarriorsJama Mahlalela, assistant coach, approached him to coordinate video.

He thought it was an opportunity to contribute and still participate.

Payton states, “I was dead serious.” “If I get cut I'm going for the job. … I was just trying stay around. I would still be there to help, travel, and contribute. You can then work it out from there.”

Mahlalela had different plans.

“I spoke to him about the criteria of the video room: Someone who is willing to learn, someone who can play on the court and get up there still. Mahlalela said that he was like, “I'll make it happen.” “And Gary, it's not something I'm letting you do. It is impossible that you will do that. You are part of this team.”

Payton was ready for what he'd always done, which was to adapt.

Payton was diagnosed as having dyslexia in his second grade. This is a learning disorder that affects between 10 and 15% of the U.S. populaiton. Dyslexia affects word recognition, spelling, comprehension, reading comprehension, and visual processing.

Payton was finally signed to Golden State's 15th roster spot after nearly two decades of adapting to adversity. This happened four days after Mahlalela spoke to him.

He is now a respected defensive guard in the NBA.


WHEN THE THREEWhen the Payton children were young, Monique, their mother, required them to read for 30 minutes every night. Gary's siblings, Julian and Raquel, were able to complete the task without any difficulty. Gary struggled with the task and couldn't understand why. Monique could hear him murmuring to himself while he was trying to navigate the pages.

She begged her son to speak up and speak clearly. Gary continued to stumble, no matter what she tried to remind him.

Monique, Gary's teacher, approached him when he was in second grade and suggested that he be tested for dyslexia. Monique was initially defensive. Now, Monique says she was not willing to believe that anything was wrong with her son.

Monique says that she remembers crying “because I was so harsh on him.” “I didn’t realize he had learning disabilities.”

Gary had difficulty reading. His brain frequently switched letters, especially Ds and Bs. He tried to predict which paragraph he would receive when he was asked to speak out loudly in class. This allowed him to practice and find words that he didn’t know. He struggled to learn the chronology of things like the order of seasons.

The Payton family moved to Los Angeles two years after their son was diagnosed. Monique witnessed her oldest son cry on the plane while she was there.

Monique states, “He said, ‘I don’t want to be stupid,’” “I'm like baby, you're never dumb. Everybody learns differently.

Gary says that accepting this difference was not easy for him.

Gary says, “After finding out, I was more embarrassed than ever to ask questions and speak in class because my classmates weren't aware, and I didn’t want them to know that I had a disability.” “I didn't try to be different than anyone else.

Gary claims that he was unable to comprehend concepts when teachers explained them verbally. Gary says that he would often approach teachers after classes to ask questions. He learned eventually to ask for the concepts to written so that he could see them.

The Paytons placed Gary in an academic tutoring program for young children with learning disabilities after they moved to LA. Soon after, they discovered that their son was visually-impaired, which is common among those with dyslexia. Gary had always been able to learn new hobbies from watching him do them.

Gary recalls telling his teachers, “If you could just type it out and show it to me, it will be mine,”

He does it still today. He still does this today, when he has to spell something.

“If you take a look at the phenomenology between visual learners and auditory learners and kinesthetic learners, it is clear that all learners learn in different ways. We just have preferences,” Dr. Francesco Dandekar at Stanford University, associate director of sports psychoiatry, says. We also have ways to compensate for any potential deficiencies. Many people who claim they are visual learners don't really mean they have trouble hearing. Instead, they will gravitate to things they can see.

Gary and his mom, who was a former player, watched their dad's games over and over. He would watch footage and other games on his own. He would study their games and pick out the parts he liked. Gary claims that Gary still incorporates moves he learned from the 1990s and 2000s.

Gary said, “Watching Basketball, I mean, it's easy to see it.” “You can tell what works and which doesn't. It is a huge help. It's much easier to visualise something and then apply it in my game than it is to do the opposite. “I try to watch as many films as I can.”

However, his passion for the game and the preparation required to play it didn't come easily or naturally.

Payton states, “I wanted to get out of the sport because who my dad is, living to the hype, whatever,” “I didn't want the hassle of it.”

Payton was in middle school when he decided to give it the try.

Monique said, “He was very lackadaisical.” “I feel like a man, we're all dogs on the court. Either you're in or out. Are you serious? Are you serious?”

Gary, then a junior at high school, decided to meet Darrel Jordan. Jordan was a friend of his family and a basketball coach who was helping Julian in the AAU circuit. Gary's footwork, and other fundamentals of basketball began to improve with Jordan.

Gary received three scholarship offers from mid-major schools: Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International and Florida A&M. However, he was not qualified academically. His childhood voices of doubt, telling him he wasn’t smart enough, filled him with doubt.

Gary graduated from Westwind Preparatory Academy, Phoenix. He landed at Salt Lake Community College. He visited Saint Mary's College, Moraga, California, his sophomore year. The school was large enough to suit his needs, it was nearby his parents in Oakland, and Saint Mary's was among the best teams in the West Coast Conference.

His father asked him to put off a decision about Saint Mary's. He requested that they visit Oregon State. In 1987, Robinson was both an All-Pac-10 player selection and the Pac-10 Freshman of The Year. Craig Robinson, the former Beavers head coach, had presented his pitch. It was a compelling one that Gary couldn't refuse. Robinson stated that he could make a difference in bringing OSU back to national prominence.

It worked. Gary joined the Beavers as a player in 2014. He was instrumental in leading them to their first NCAA tournament appearance, which they achieved in 1990. In addition to being the first Pac-12 Defensive Player Of The Year twice, he also became the Beavers' first NCAA Tournament participant since 1990.

Despite all the highs, the voice in his head that filled with doubt — that was that he wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, or that he wasn’t on any draft boards (the one he spent more than a decade trying not to hear) remained.

He says, “I didn’t know what I would be doing after school.” “I [didn't]What are my plans if the basketball game doesn't work?


AS THE FIRSTQuarter was coming to an end in Monday's Game 2 against the Denver NuggetsThe Warriors trailed by eight.

Bones HylandThe Nuggets were looking to increase their lead by two-digits. He pulled up close to the top of his key. He hit the rim and was named reigning MVP. Nikola JokicThe rebound was taken.

Jokic went for the dunk and Payton gave up 90 lbs and nine inches and blocked Jokic's shot. Otto Porter Jr. corralled the ball, took it down court and passed it on to Andrew WigginsPorter received it and gave it back to him for a 3. This cut the Nuggets' lead down to five, prompting Denver coach Michael Malone into a timeout. Jokic was heading to the huddle when Payton gave him a slap on his butt.

Payton went to the bench and didn’t look back Stephen CurryThe upset center was restrained by Payton, who is not unfamiliar with Payton at the edge.

Jokic, in a mid-February match, caught the ball high, but this time just outside the key. With just five minutes remaining in half-time, Jokic turned to face a familiar foe: Payton.

Jokic tried to support him, but instead he decided to try his one-legged turnaround.

He rose and was joined by Payton who match the timing of his rise and then won the ball.

Payton's ability slow Jokic is not an accident.

“Film doesn't lie,” Payton says.

Jokic has mastered the art of spinning off defenders. This move has become a key part of his offensive repertoire. They discovered that Payton's larger frame could make Jokic lose his spin. It's very simple, they realized. Jokic would be presented with a defense he seldom sees and doesn’t have to fight.

Mahlalela states that his leverage is usually against bigger players. Gary keeps him safe and gives him a completely new center of gravity. Understanding the game is key. Knowing the players and how they fit into the team is key.

Ask any person and they'll tell you that Payton is a unique player because of his basketball intelligence. He has been studying the game for his whole life.

Dr. Dandekar said that dyslexia is not linked to IQ. It's simply something your brain has more difficulty processing. It's a common misconception that success is about being able to do everything well. Understanding what you are good at, what you don’t, being able to play to your strengths, and finding ways that you can help yourself with things you aren't as good at is key to success.

Payton finally has success in the NBA with a Warriors team that holds a commanding lead of 2-0 over Jokic, the Nuggets and Payton.

Payton: “They let us be ourselves.”

He was planning for another rejection seven months ago. Another instance in which the doubts and lifelong doubts would once again haunt him. He did not know that he would be filling an opening in either the Warriors' roster or the club's Video Coordination department.

Steve Kerr, Warriors coach says “He knows his way and his journey has been filled with adversity.” “He has been released so many time. It's him preparing for the next step. It was not possible because he performed so well for us.

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