Steph Curry is doing things that no other basketball player has ever done. More importantly, Steph is an excellent role model for young people to look up to. Lots of kids wear his #30 jersey, which is great that they look up to an outstanding person. But whenever I see a kid wearing a Steph Curry jersey, I want to ask, “Did you know Steph worked so hard on his shooting in middle school that he sometimes cried?!” Or, “Do you realize Steph’s mother made him miss games if he forgot to do his chores?!” Also, “Isn’t cool that a player as talented as Steph always asked his coaches how he could improve?!” I have a feeling that these kids’ parents would not approve of a creepy stranger running up to their kid and asking these random questions. So instead, I’ll write about three of the many life lessons your students can learn by reading about Steph’s life.
Success requires an insane amount of work.
Steph’s father, Dell, was an excellent NBA player. When Steph was in middle school, Dell noticed his son’s shot was too easy to block. So he spent an entire summer teaching Steph new shooting techniques. And Dell didn’t teach him in a cozy NBA gym — Dell took Steph to the goal he shot at growing up. When Dell was a kid, his dad nailed a goal to a telephone pole in their yard. Dell’s father used a thick, steel rim. So you had to shoot the ball perfectly through the hoop to score — there were no forgiving bounces with that rim! And if you missed, you had to run far to retrieve the ball. Steph said, “It was make it or chase it out there.”
So Steph spent hours that summer relearning how to shoot. His grandmother remembers seeing Steph take lots of shots with tears in his eyes. It had to be an incredibly frustrating experience for Steph, who was already a good shooter. Imagine running after the ball every time your shot isn’t perfect. Imagine how tired he must have been! There must have been times when Steph doubted himself. There were probably a few times when Steph wanted to quit, especially since that was such an unfair goal to shoot on. But Steph always dragged himself to the goal every day to learn from his father.
What a powerful story to tell your students! Next time a kid feels like giving up, remind them that even Steph Curry felt so discouraged about his shooting skills in middle school that he cried. But no matter what, he didn’t give up.
I also think this story shows the importance of challenging yourself. I love that he spent an entire summer shooting on a goal that required a perfect shot to score. Steph said making shots during games was much easier after spending so much time shooting at his dad’s old goal.
Steph realized no one owed him anything
Steph’s father was a really good NBA player for 16 years. Steph was alive for most of his father’s NBA career. Steph got to attend lots of NBA games. He got to play basketball on fancy NBA practice courts. He met lots of famous players. It would have been easy for Steph to think that he was better than everyone else. But Steph realized that if he wanted to become an NBA player like his dad, he was going to have to put in a tremendous amount of work. He did not want to be automatically handed a spot on a basketball team just because of who his dad was. Steph always listened to his dad’s advice, but he wanted to earn success, not just be handed it.
Steph also worked hard in school. He tried his best to do what his parents and teachers told him to do. When he didn’t do his chores at home, Steph’s mom made him miss basketball games as punishment. Steph always loved basketball while he was growing up, but he realized that getting a good education was just as important. I love that even though Steph’s dad was famous, he remained humble, respectful, and hard-working.
Use your talents to make the world a better place
Steph is one of the best shooters in basketball history. He made 402 three-pointers during the 2015-2016 season. The next closest player had 276. Steph has always been a good shooter. When he was in college at Davidson, he started donating money to Nothing But Nets, which is a program that delivers bed nets to areas of Africa that have problems with malaria. Steph was sad when he read that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 60 seconds. He stepped up his giving when he got to the NBA, agreeing to donate enough money for three bed nets for every three-pointer he makes.
So, who will students most likely listen to: Me telling them why it’s important to work hard, or these stories about Steph Curry persevering? I’ve written a set of paired texts about Steph and Kobe Bryant that have more stories like these. I was very impressed with Steph and Kobe as I researched them. In addition to teaching reading skills with these paired texts, you can teach important life lessons as well!