You think you know, but you have no idea. Find out how Austin Rivers, the Dime/2K Sports National High School Player Of The Year, transformed from a regular, lovable kid to a cold-blooded basketball assassin, hated on for his dominance and swagger on the court.
Winter Park, Florida is a lush, close-knit community in the shadows of Orlando, where oversized mansions and brick-lined streets are shaded by majestic royal palms. It’s got a small town feel, where everyone knows and looks out for everyone. It’s the kind of place you’d swear was the inspiration behind the “Cheers” theme song. As Austin Rivers’ mother Kristin puts it, “I’ve lived in lots of cities around the country, but I’ll die in Winter Park.”
After all, Florida, according to the Harris Poll, is the second most popular place to live in the country, and Winter Park is just a seven-minute drive from Disney World. Fitting, albeit on a smaller scale, that Winter Park is home to a conspicuous character of its own.
“You can’t think of Winter Park and not think of Austin Rivers,” says Austin’s friend and Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) point guard Myck Kabongo, a Texas signee. “Austin is Winter Park. Everyone knows that.”
An amazingly fitting appointment for an 18-year-old kid who was born in Santa Monica, Calif., moved to New York then to San Antonio, before ending up in Winter Park in 1998. Such is the life of an ex-NBA player-turned-head-coach’s son.
“He’s had to move around a lot, but this is where he made his mark,” says Austin’s father and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “This is where he became who he is.”
Who Austin is, really is, isn’t just the 2011 Dime/2K Sports National High School Player of the Year. He’s not just a marketable face because he can hoop. Not even close. The true essence is very much an anomaly, a larger than life persona with a collective perception that is vastly misunderstood.
“People don’t get me,” says Austin. “They think I’m something that I’m not. Spoiled rich kid… Entitled… Living off of my dad… Cocky. I mean, I get it. It comes with the territory. At the same time, one of the hardest things in life to be is constantly misunderstood.”