My dad is a basketball coach, so it’s not surprising that I started to play basketball at a very young age. My elder brother also plays basketball professionally now. When we were little, we practiced together. Practicing with those who are three years older than me helped me become more physical. In addition, we often played one-on-one in summer.
At 10 years old, I went to a bigger city to play basketball. My mom drove me there and watched me practice every day, so she understands basketball as well. Sometimes my family try not to talk about basketball at home. All of us agree on that. But five minutes later, our topic turns back to basketball. We can’t help. We are basketball family!
In fact, when I was not a professional player, I was quite good at academic subjects. I like math, and I was even one of the best kids at school. However, I like basketball more. Thus, when my home city team invited me to join in, I accepted immediately. I was 13, and I was the youngest player in the league then. When I went on the court, I was shaking.
When I was 15 years old, I went alone to our capital, Vilnius, to play in the second tier of Lithuanian league. It’s also the moment that I knew basketball would be my living. Actually, all my life, I was thinking that I'm gonna be a basketball player. But when I signed the contract, I knew that I would make money by playing basketball for real.
At that time, I was still a student. I had morning practice, then I went to school, and went to practice again. Although I stopped going to school afterwards, I still took exams and finished the schoolwork. Everything was fine.
I was preparing to be a center at first because I was 185 cm tall when I was 13. But in Vilnius, the coach told me that I had to shoot. My coach helped me a lot to build my confidence, so I started to be the shooter, playing like a shooting guard.
People put huge expectation on me because I started to play basketball early. I have been to a lot of basketball camps, like Jordan Brand Classic. I played an all-star game with Wiggins and Hezonja, and practiced with Anthony Davis. When I was 16 years old, I had a lot of offers. American universities and one of the best European teams gave me offers.
因為我很早就開始打職業籃球，所以大眾對我有滿高的期待。我也參加過很多籃球營，像是Jordan Brand Classic。我和Wiggins(現NBA球員)，還有Hezonja(現NBA球員)一起打過明星賽。我們也和Anthony Davis(現NBA球員)一起練過球。16歲的時候，我有滿多打球的機會，像是美國的大學，還有歐洲很棒的球隊都有來找我。
But I don't like American style basketball. American basketball is just one-on-one. I like to play more like a team. That's why I stayed in Europe. Eventually, I chose one of the best Lithuanian teams to sign the contract.
I was one of the best European players at my age. I played very good in LKL (the premier professional basketball league in Lithuania), and I was starting five in every game. In 2012, I got a chance to play in Junior EuroLeague. However, the worst thing happened...
這一路走來 | 呂奇旻
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