The journey began in 2004. Shaun Livingston chose Duke University as his college basketball destination. The whispers concerning his draft position began once his college choice was made. I admit, I don’t know if I could handle that type of pressure at 18 years old. Livingston thought long and hard about his future, and decided he was going to chase his dream of playing in the NBA.
As a teenager fresh out of high school, could you blame him for chasing the big payday? Looking at at least another year of more studying, dining hall meals and financial struggles did not look tempting. How could anyone be mad at Livingston for deciding to skip college for a chance to make a few million dollars a year?
The Los Angeles Clippers took Livingston with the fourth pick in the 2004 draft to pair with Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley. His rookie season was not stellar, but he carved out playing time with 25 minutes a game. A promising career was evident in the youngster, but NBA success is never guaranteed. Injuries were the downfall of Livingston’s career, not his talent level. He knew he had the mental toughness to play in the NBA, he just needed his body to agree with the physical requirements.
A devastating knee injury changed everything for Livingston. He destroyed his knee by landing awkwardly after a lay-up attempt against the Charlotte Bobcats in 2007. The diagnoses was that he would never play again. However, Livingston attacked rehab profusely and made his return to the NBA a year later. His knee scared off many teams, which caused Livingston to be bounced around the league. He played for eight different teams from 2008-13, never giving up on his dream. Now fully healed, Livingston is hell-bent on maintaining a roster spot in the NBA.
Pride for a professional athlete can easily destroy a career. Livingston took his fall from grace like a man by never quitting. He paid his dues in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, while fighting for a chance to get back in the NBA. In 2013, he signed a one-year deal to back up Deron Williams in Brooklyn. Championship or not, Livingston has given us a reason to cheer for the underdog again. He has preserved through greater losses on and off the court. He is a living testament that hard work and dedication pay off.