Steph Curry, The Cauldron (https://thecauldron.si.com/my-next-move-47884ebdcbea#.ai7lafuwz)
What’s behind your success?”
People ask questions like this of all-star athletes and gold medalists, famous CEOs and successful politicians alike. It’s an attempt to unlock some wisdom, uncover some secret approach, or expose some special trick that must be the reason why such high levels of achievement were accomplished.
The question has never stumped me. For me, the answer’s not even all that complicated.
Over the years, I’ve been doubted and questioned for my size, my skill and a host of other reasons. Growing up, I was a skinny kid who wasn’t very tall, especially for a basketball player. “Not tall enough,” they said. “Not strong enough,” they said. “Won’t be able to guard bigger, stronger players at the next level,” they said.
When it came to the doubters, there were many.
No matter what was said, or who said it, though, I always blocked them out — all of them — and kept training to play the game I love. When I turned 13, I started doing private workouts with coaches, and it became clear very quickly that they were there to motivate me in ways I hadn’t thought possible and to increase my drive to develop my game.
It may seem hard to believe now, but the top universities didn’t invite me to play for them. In fact, none of the big basketball programs offered me a scholarship. Not even Virginia Tech, the college where my dad, Dell Curry, had played before his career in the NBA.
Still, I continued to train with my coaches, becoming mentally tougher and building confidence in my skills — practicing shooting, working on my dribbling and doing drills to make me faster and stronger.
Eventually the hard work paid off, and success followed. People began to notice my teammates and me. At Davidson, we made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I won an NCAA scoring title. Got drafted to the NBA. Twice named an NBA All-Star. Broke the all-time record for three-pointers made in an NBA season.
I’ve always believed that success for anyone is all about drive, dedication and desire, but for me, it’s also been about confidence and faith. To excel at the highest level — or any level, really — you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching.
Individual coaching sessions have helped me develop as a player, and I still do them during the NBA offseason. It’s a cyclical and symbiotic relationship: Through continuous training and maintaining a steady work ethic, I always feel like there’s more I can achieve. That’s why each and every day, I do something to try and get better; to challenge myself; to learn more about the game; to make my teammates better.
This way of thinking isn’t just reserved for Stephen Curry, the professional basketball player, either. I believe that the persistence and time that I put into my craft can lead anyone to success.
It’s a word that people have used to describe me from day one. And throughout my journey from underdog to the NBA, it’s a word I’ve used as motivation. That’s why today is so important to me; that’s why I’ve spent my basketball career proving the doubters wrong; that’s why I’m so excited to share the news of today’s announcement with you. Now, I am thrilled to help other kids be the best they can be in whatever sport they play; to help every kid who’s ever been an underdog or a “longshot.” Now, I can take an active role in helping them prove to their doubters that with enough hard work, persistence and desire, they can succeed, too.
Just like I did.
Private coaches not only helped me become a better player, but they also helped me develop as a person. Many of you know that my dad, Dell, was a great NBA player in his day (I will leave the arguments over who was the better shooter to you guys!), but even he and my mother, Sonya, know just how significant my work with private coaches was to my overall development, both on and off the court.
When I started playing, my parents and coaches had high expectations. They weren’t sure of my eventual success — no one could have been — but they were sure of my commitment. They taught me to give it my all and put everything I had into my game. In team sports, other people rely on you to train your best and try your hardest. Once you make a commitment, you have to stick with that commitment and give it your all.
My basketball journey started more than a decade ago when I first decided to ignore those who said I was too small and not strong enough. The doubters. Make no mistake, it took endless extra hours with my coaches to sharpen my game, and improve my strength and conditioning. It was that work ethic, established early on, that set me on the course which has taken me where I am today.
If I’ve been lucky in the NBA, it’s because of those thousands of hours, early in the morning and late at night, working to prove myself. To prove them wrong.