While there are obviously numbers and science to back up the fact that youth sports positively affect the lives of children, nothing drives this fact home harder than a personal story from one of the many athletes in the world of professional sports. Many pro athletes you see on TV today started out playing for their schools and local recreational leagues in order to develop the skills we all admire.

One such athlete is Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving. Irving credits starting basketball from a young age as well as the mentorship of his father as being two predominant reasons why he has performed so well and received the accolades he now has, including 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP, FIBA World Cup MVP and 2016 NBA Champion.

Irving’s story just goes to show that a child playing in your local league now could grow up to win their own NBA Championship.

 Irving’s Triumphant Story

While Irving currently plays for Cleveland, his place of birth was Melbourne, Australia. Basketball is something that runs in the family, with his father playing basketball for Boston University in his youth under the great coach Rick Pitino. From there he played professionally for the Australian basketball team the Bulleen Boomers before retiring.

Even as a baby, Irving showed a massive interest in playing basketball. At a little over a year old, an infant Irving would watch a basketball dribble and clamor to grab it for his own.

After moving to West Orange, New Jersey [where League Network is also born] when he was two, Irving’s life became tragedy-stricken. At the age of four, his mother passed from an illness, leaving his father and aunts to care for him. He often spent time with his dad at his father’s adult-league games. Soon after, his interest for playing in the NBA strengthened. He promised his father he would make it there someday. He was so inspired and driven to his goal that he would write it down and show it to anyone who didn’t believe him.

Irving began playing basketball in school and showed great promise. In an ESPN interview, Irving recalls how his father would encourage him to greatness.

“In eighth grade my father told me I would wind up as the best guard in the state of New Jersey. In my senior year of high school, he told me I’d be the number one player in the country. Then, in college, he told me I’d be the number one pick in the draft. He laid out all the necessary steps for me. It was up to me what I did with them.”

The bond he shared with his father was unbreakable, and Irving looks up to him even today as a measure of success. He’s achieved his goal of playing in the NBA and has shown the world he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Through playing sports as a child and having a strong mentor to encourage him to greatness, Kyrie Irving found success. When you coach and inspire child athletes to be all they can be, chances are they’ll prove to you they can be that, and then some.