Tim Duncan’s career was the model of quiet excellence. For 20 years, he led the San Antonio Spurs to five championships and retired as one of the game’s greatest players. Like many great athletes, he loved more than one sport. Before he fully committed to the NBA, he even aimed to make the Olympics as a swimmer. But while training for the 1992 Games, a natural disaster ruined his chances. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated Duncan’s home on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, destroying the only Olympic-sized swimming pool the island had in the process. This forced the 13-year-old Duncan to swim in the ocean instead, but that ended quickly thanks to his fear of sharks.
Around the same time, the Duncan family suffered an even greater setback, as Tim’s mother Ione was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she died the day before his 14th birthday. His older sister Cheryl and her husband Ricky Lowry returned to the island to care for the family. Lowry, a former college basketball player, encouraged his brother-in-law to pick up the sport. The year prior, the couple had shipped a basketball hoop to the family, and it survived the hurricane. So Duncan picked it up, and with Lowry’s coaching, he never looked back.
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Tim Duncan | 0:00
Allen Iverson | 1:29
Michael Jordan | 2:43
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson | 3:45
Kobe Bryant | 4:56
Len Bias and Reggie Lewis | 6:10
Jerry West | 7:16
Hank Gathers | 8:22
Ben Wilson | 9:31
Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman | 10:46
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