Today I am going to take a look at Delonte West in our series of Player Profiles.
Delonte West is another of our young players who overcame a tough childhood to make it to the pros. Delonte grew up in a rough area of DC and his family struggled to make ends meet. They moved a lot because of their financial situation and were evicted 3 times. Sometimes the move meant that Delonte, his mom, Delphina Addison, his younger sister and older brother all had to sleep in the same bed. Delonte became a very angry young man, wanting more from life than having to move from place to place and never knowing if there would be enough to eat or a roof over their heads the next week. In those tough times, Delonte gravitated to the basketball courts of inner city Washington DC. He didn't join in with others but often played by himself, sometimes pretending to be Michael Jordan. And basketball became an outlet. Once he got into the games, West developed a way of playing, a bloody way, throwing caution to the wind, too often getting pounded to the hot-top court, landing on his elbows and knees. He can still point out scars from those long-ago days when he didn't have a clue where the game would take him.
School wasn't easy for Delonte as they moved so much. He went to three different middle schools. When he became a ninth-grader, they sent him to live with his father in Virginia. It was a bad move. Being in Virginia made him even more depressed and he got into a lot of trouble. He ended up quitting the freshman team."
He went back to the old Washington neighborhood, looking for another high school. A friend told him he should go to Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, Maryland because lots of nice-looking girls went there. He went there but still his academics weren't up to par. He started playing AAU basketball and then Roosevelt coach Glenn Farello took an interest in him. Clearly, the kid could play. But he also had baggage. Farrello wasn't fazed. He was the perfect coach for Delonte. He realized that West was an angry young man but made him believe in himself. West had to show he could stay eligible, balance the books and the game. He didn't play until his sophomore year was about halfway through. From then on until the end of his senior season, West became all-everything in the D.C.-Maryland area. He was even the Prom King.
Only 2 colleges recruited him: Manhattan and St. Josephs. He was leaning toward Manhattan until he saw in the St Joe's Media guide that two of their games would be on ESPN and that made up his mind. He chose St. Joseph's in Philly. In St. Joe's coach, In Phil Martinelli, West found another coach who was able to get the best out of him. The Hawks went 30-2 in West's senior year, 27-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. He put up 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He tossed a perfect game against Xavier: 12-for-12 from the field, 3-for-3 on treys, 6-for-6 from the foul line. His 37 straight free throws is a St. Joe's record.
The Celtics drafted West with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. He averaged 13 minutes per game as a rookie. His rookie year was plagued with injuries, however and so he really didn't get a chance to show what he could do. In his second year, Delonte became the starting point guard, in spite of having played shooting guard up until then. West has a collection of videos of point guards that he has to play against and studies them so that he knows the tendencies of the competition. He is one of the hardest workers in the NBA, never settling for good, but always wanting to be the best. Last year he was chosen to represent the Celtics in the Rookie-Sophomore All Star game.
West saw the experience as a learning experience and more than just going to play the game. ''I'm going to try to take the experience and pick the brains of the All-Stars that are hanging around," West said. ''When I came to the NBA, I didn't say I just wanted to make it to the NBA, I wanted to be one of the better players. I want to be the best that do it. Making it to that main game is definitely a measurement of that. That's one of my goals for my career, to be an All-Star. So being in Houston gives me a taste of what it would be like."
Basketball is not Delonte's only gift. When he was in the fourth grade, he was interested in a girl that he thought was the prettiest he had ever seen. She seemed smitten with this other boy because he could draw. West thought that he could do that too, so he took it up. He still draws. The Celtics media guide refers to him as "a talented artist." His drawing is another outlet to help drown the anger within him. Several of his drawings are still hanging at St. Joe's.
Delonte had a couple of big games that were televised in Italy, and suddenly he has a budding fan club there. He also has a great sense of humor. From the article on his perfect Valentine Date to being miked at the Rookie-Sophomore game and naming his shots ("I call this one 'Cookies'.") to being the #1 best looking player in the world, you just have to love this kid.
Delonte also loves giving back to the community. You often see photos and stories on celics.com where Delonte goes to a school or helps with a community project. This summer he went on a class trip to Washington with kids from an elementary school. He also participated in Basketball Without Borders, going to Puerto Rico to present clinics and work with kids there.
Delonte plays all out all the time. He led all point guards in blocked shots last year and you only had to watch him for a little while to realize that this kid has something special. He has a good court vision and great basketball IQ. ''My basketball philosophy, my basketball genetics, is 'by any means necessary,' " West said. ''That's what I do. Whatever we have to do to get the W, that's what I do, so I'm always going to go all out"
It is unclear what Delonte's roll on the team will be this year. With two new point guards that Danny is high on, Delonte will have an uphill battle if he is to keep his starting PG role. I see Delonte as the Sixth man this year, backing up both the 1 and the 2. He is a great shooter and could be a microwave type player coming off the bench. There are a lot of teams interested in him but so far, Danny has said that Delonte is part of the core of the team that he wants to keep together. One thing is sure, whatever role Delonte plays, he will give it his all... that's just the way he is. I wouldn't want to bet against him making the All Star team... he has fought for everything his entire life and has proved that he is a winner wherever he goes.
What a truly well written article this is. Your passion for the Celtics, and your adoration for Delonte comes out in this piece. I kind of feel bad now for talking about including him in a deal to bring in a veteran big man. I mean, ultimately, it may be the best thing to do because of the surplus we have at the wings, but he's such a feel good story, and he's an exceptional player that having him on any other team but ours is heartbreaking.
Thanks for reminding us (me) of how lucky we are to have Delonte.
Thank you Derren. I think Delonte's heart is going to set him apart from other players. When you think about it, we have several feel good stories on our team now... Powe, Perk, West, Ratliff... all have overcome so much to make it to the NBA and all are good people. I have had a bad feeling that Delonte might be going in a trade because of the Allan Ray signing. I hope I am wrong though. Thanks again for all you do for the blog and for your nice words on the Delonte article. I am not a writer and when I started I wasn't sure I could put out anything worth reading. I am just trying to fill in until some real writers can contribute :-)
You certainly are a writer, FL. All your articles have been top shelf stuff. Really good reading. You do a really good job of giving a total glimpse of a player's life and how he got to the point where he is now. When I put things together, its more of an assesment of a player's ability and shortcomings, so it only focuses on the here and now. I'll try to get up an article soon.
Not a Celtics fan being from Philly. But appreciate the article on Delonte and a very good one at that, he gave St. Joe's everything he had, only wish he stuck around another year. I wish him all the best at Boston.