People love to compare me to my dad.
But let’s be real — I’m not my dad.
I’m not him, and he’s not me.
I wear the Hardaway name on the back of my jersey with a ton of pride because of everything my dad accomplished. Don’t get me wrong.
But my parents instilled in me from an early age that I would be my own player — that I would be my own man. They just wanted me to do whatever I needed to do to be the best player I could be.
My dad’s story has been legendary.
But this is my story.
This is my path to walk.
The elephant in the room
I’d be lying if I said the path that I’m on wasn’t inspired by my dad.
Man, I remember being a little five-year-old kid traveling around to different games just to watch him play. Just being around all of that at such an early age made me fall in love with basketball. By the time I was seven years old, I was already shooting on one of those mini hoops around the house.
I was definitely the slam dunk king on that thing.
Growing up, my dad was just like any other dad — giving me life lessons, encouraging me to be better, and just being there when I needed him.
But at the same time, there was this other side that couldn’t be ignored.
The elephant in the room, as some might say.
He was also this global icon in the basketball community. Honestly, I didn’t even realize how big he was until I got to middle school. I obviously knew he was a great player because he played in the NBA. But a global icon? No way. I had no idea.
It never even hit me until I started hearing everybody talking about him.
The glory days
That’s when I started to binge-watch his highlights on YouTube.
I wasn’t around to experience the glory days. So that was my way of seeing that version of my dad that everyone talked about. I used to watch his highlights all of the time, man—just taking notes on everything he accomplished and contributed to the sport.
I’ve always looked up to him, and those highlights still motivate me to this very day.
They made me want to improve and take my own game to the next level.
That’s why joining a Division I basketball program was always in the cards for me. It’s something I’ve had as a personal goal ever since I started competing.
I had a lot of interest in high school, but I was a really late bloomer. So, I was never a top prospect coming out of school.
After graduating, I went to IMG Academy and started getting some offers while playing with their college prep team. Not long after that, my dad got the job at the University of Memphis. I was proud of him, but I didn’t really think much of it beyond that—until he reached out to me a couple days later.
He told me he was recruiting me, not because I’m his son, but because he believed in my abilities. He’s had a front-row seat to watching me play and compete for years. If anyone knew, he knew what I brought to the table as a player and a competitor. He also knew what I needed to do and where I needed to be to find success.
It took my dad a couple of days to call with an offer.
And it took me a couple of days to accept.
Now that I’m here, I can definitely say that I can’t think of a better place than Memphis.
No free passes
It felt great to have my dad believe in me.
I mean, he’s always believed in me, but this just took it a step further. The best part about it was that this opportunity came from the work I put in — not because I was his son.
But obviously, just because dad and I know this doesn’t mean everyone else does. So, I joined the program with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
I had to grind like never before to show people what I had to offer the team.
I wanted to show everyone this wasn’t just an invite.
I deserve to be here.
I’m supposed to be here!
The best advice my dad ever gave me was to never get complacent. You always have to outwork the man beside you. No matter how good you think you are in any particular moment, there’s always somebody else out there fighting for the same opportunities you’re fighting for.
I take those words with me every time I step onto the court.
I’ll keep giving it my all until there’s nothing left. If I can do that—whether I make it to the NBA or not—I can walk away happy.
I don’t need to walk the same path as my dad to find success in this world.
My story will be legendary, one way or another.