A native of Akron, Ohio, when he was younger, LeBron James was known simply as a youngster. Back when Dirk Nowitzki was still a youngster in Germany, he was nothing more than a skinny youngster. Kobe Bryant was referred to as “bean junior” before he became the lethal Black Mamba. Before they started making waves in the major league, these stars and other iconic NBA players were all just dreamers. Now, they are all world-famous athletes who make millions of dollars, but in the past, they were all just hopefuls. Cavs Nation managed to get their hands on some unique images of these superstars from back in the day, when not even they had the least idea of where their careers would take them.
15. Chris Paul
Christopher Emmanuel Paul grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He started playing basketball at the age of five and was outstanding in high school. Paul lost his grandfather, his biggest supporter, to a murder during Paul’s senior year. Paul’s grandfather, who passed at 61, was in the gym in spirit watching at Paul scored a career high 61 points. Now he’s a star point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers.
14. LeBron James
It was LeBron Raymore. James was born in the city of Akron, Ohio, and he started playing basketball when he was nine years old. James was forced to move about a lot when he was young, but that did not prevent him from playing the sport that he cherished. He only played in high school but became a standout player and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated during his senior year. Since he was selected first overall in the draft in 2003, he has seen nothing but success in his career. LeBron James has established himself as one of the very best players in the history of basketball through his excellent play at the forward position for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
13. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, however he did not have the ideal childhood. He is a professional basketball player. In spite of the difficulties he was having at home with his mother, Wade looked to basketball as a way to get away from the difficult times he was forced to go through. After putting in a lot of effort over the years, he has now seen the fruits of his labor as he has contributed to the Miami Heat winning three NBA championships.
12. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki grew up in Würzburg, Germany. The seven foot forward for the Dallas Mavericks grew tall as a child and his basketball skills attracted the attention of a German International player who trained him to be the arguably the best European player in history.
11. Blake Griffin
Blake Austin Griffin was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After focusing on baseball and football as a child, Griffin began to devote his time to basketball as he entered the ninth grade. He played basketball with his brother Taylor at Oklahoma, and was selected number one overall in the 2009 Draft. He’s now the all star power forward for the Los Angeles Clippers.
10. Klay Thompson
Klay Alexander Thompson grew up in Los Angeles, California. He started playing basketball at a young age, and was even little league teammates with the Cavs power forward, Kevin Love. Thompson went to Washington State University for three years before declaring for the NBA Draft.
9. Brandon Jennings
Brandon Byron Jennings was born in Compton, California. He made a name for himself during his senior year where he averaged 35 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. Funny that he wears a Pistons jersey in the photo, and then ends up playing for them less than 20 years later.
8. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bean Bryant grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began to play basketball at three years old and even played overseas for a while. Bryant was a standout player in high school, and was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. Imagine if they had only kept him…
7. Paul George
Paul Clifton Anthony George was born in Palmdale, California. George started his career playing organized basketball at Knight High School and went to Fresno State for two years before deciding on moving up to the NBA.
6. Stephen Curry
Wardell Stephen Curry II was born in Akron Ohio but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Curry’s father, Dell, played for the Charlotte Hornets. Steph and his brother Seth used to shoot around with their father’s team during warm ups and were always around basketball. Now, both are in the NBA (Stephen with the Warriors and Seth with the Kings).
5. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant grew up in Washington, D.C. He favorite team growing up was the Toronto Raptors, with Vince Carter being his favorite player. Durant could make a return to the D.C. area when he becomes a free agent in 2016.
4. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook was born in Long Beach, California. Westbrook was big on basketball, but didn’t get the attention of college scouts until the summer before his senior year. Westbrook averaged 25 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and three steals per game during his senior year and committed to UCLA after. He was then drafted to the Seattle Supersonics, now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder.
3. Dwight Howard
Dwight David Howard grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He decided to get serious about basketball around the age of nine, and was freakishly lanky in high school, where he played the point guard position! Howard skipped out on college and declared for the draft in 2004, where he ended up being the first overall pick.
2. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York. His family moved to Baltimore when he was eight. By the end of his junior year, he had announced he would be attending Syracuse University. Anthony’s whole career has been fixated around New York as he grew up there, played his college ball there, and now plays professionally there with the Knicks.
1. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Andrew Irving was grew up in West Orange, New Jersey after moving from Australia to the U.S. when he was two. He was raised by his father, also a basketball player, and was selected number one overall in the 2011 NBA Draft after just 11 games at Duke.