Once upon a time, NBA stars were regular everyday kids. Well, unless you were a childhood prodigy like LeBron James, who had the media spotlight on him as a teenager. Or maybe you had an upbringing like Stephen Curry, whose father Dell played in the NBA and introduced him to the league and its players at an early age. Or you had an unfortunate upbringing like Jimmy Butler, whose mother kicked him out of her home when he was just thirteen years old. I bet she regrets that decision now!
Some NBA players are easily recognizable in their childhood pictures. James and Curry, for example, simply look like bigger versions of their younger selves. On the other hand, there are those kids who turn into NBA stars and look nothing like they did when they were younger.
Here are fifteen NBA stars who looked shockingly different as kids.
15. Kevin Love
Seeing a Seattle Supersonics jersey always brings back bittersweet memories as the team is now defunct. Kevin Love looks to have been a fan of the Seattle franchise as a kid as well, or if not a fan, a fan of the reign man, Shawn Kemp. Love here is the recipient of a Kemp jersey (as evidenced by the tag on the jersey) and seems to be ecstatic to have received number forty’s jersey. Little did Love know at the time that he’d one day be playing in the NBA just as Kemp did. After being a member of some woeful wolves teams, Love was shipped off to Cleveland. While Love initially struggled upon being drafted as he was unaccustomed to being a third option as opposed to the normal number one he’d been throughout his career, he has adjusted well and won a ring in his second season with the Cavaliers.
14. Danny Green
This tall, lanky child may be more recognizable than most on this list, but his attire is what is particularly cool about this pic. Here, we have Tony Parker’s starting backcourt mate and three point marksman, Danny Green, who is decked out in a North Carolina Tar Heels polo. Little did Green know that he’d be playing his college ball down in Chapel Hill, which makes for quite the ironic picture. Green is in his eighth NBA season, and seventh with the Spurs (he started his career with the Cavaliers where he struggled mightily). Green is averaging 7.4 PPG to go along with 2.9 RPG and 2.1 APG. He’s also shooting just over from behind the arc which has always been the strongest part of his game.
13. Klay Thomspon
When you look at this picture, you wouldn’t imagine that this kid would drop 60 points in 29 minutes. You also wouldn’t imagine that he dropped 37 points in a quarter. This kid is one half of the sharpshooting Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson. For one, Thompson no longer sports blonde hair, and he actually has waves in his hair. Here, his hair is on the curly side. He also looks to have forgotten his detachable goatee! Just kidding, Klay! Thompson, the number eleven pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by way of Washington State, is averaging 22 points a contest which is on par with his average of last season. For those who thought Thompson would see a significant decrease in his scoring output because of the addition of Kevin Durant, think again.
12. Karl-Anthony Towns
This right here is a big kid! Next to Karl in this picture is his older sister, Lachelle. The 7’0” former Kentucky Wildcat by way of Piscataway, New Jersey started growing early as evidenced by his picture as a youngster. But, it’s unlikely that even his own mother believed her son would grow to be a gargantuan seven footer. Towns now sports a beard and does not have a babyface; moreover, he looks like a full grown man (that’s what tends to happen when you get older). Not only does he look like a man, but he plays like one, too, and is going to dominate the league for years to come. In his second season in Minnesota, Towns is absolutely shining as he is averaging 21.8 PPG, 10.4 PPG and 1.5 BPG.
11. Manu Ginobili
One thing is for sure, this kid looks absolutely comfortable and confident with the rock in his hand. Another thing that is for certain is that this kid looks like Moe Horowitz from the three stooges as a result of the haircut he is sporting. Here, we have everyone’s favorite bat killer, Manu Ginobili. He sported quite the mane as a child; unfortunately, he can’t say the same in present day as he is in the midst of losing his hair. An absolute steal at the fifty-seventh pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili is at the tail end of his career. In fact, it isn’t a bad bet to say that the thirty-nine year old Argentinian will hand it up at the end of the 2016-2017 campaign.
10. Chandler Parsons
Ah, the dreaded mushroom cut that dominated the late nineties! To the kid’s credit, he’s showing off the ice on his neck and has a basketball in his hand. Does this look like a kid who would make it to the NBA? Moreover, does this look like someone who would one day command a max contract in the NBA? I didn’t think so! Here, we have someone who can be depicted as Mark Cuban’s “frienemy”, Chandler Parsons. He thankfully no longer sports the mushroom cut and usually sports a buzz cut. Parsons has spent time with two Texas franchises, the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks. He currently finds himself in his first season with the Memphis Grizzlies as the team’s starting Small Forward.
9. Tony Parker
Who could hate a baby with cheeks as chubby as this? Well, asides from Eva Longoria and Brent Barry. Ladies and gentlemen, that right there is Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. Parker, who regularly sports a somewhat messy beard is unrecognizable here without his facial hair. The Belgian-born Frenchman is now in his sixteenth season in the NBA (where has the time gone) and is showing signs of slowing down. Playing in his first season without the “Big Fundamental”, Tim Duncan, Parker is currently averaging 9.3 PPG and 4.4 APG, which are his lowest totals since his rookie season in 2001-2002. At thirty-four years of age Parker knows that he is well past his prime, but isn’t quite ready to call it a career as he can still be a pivotal piece for the San Antonio franchise.
8. Kenneth Faried
First thing’s first, this kid has established that he is a boss (just take a look at his shirt)! But maybe if you were to take a look at the man pictured with Faried, who is presumably his father, you may be able to guess that this is none other than the Manimal. To see Kenneth Faried without his trademark dreads today would be similar to when Carmelo Anthony cut off his braids as it seems like a thing that will never happen. The Morehead State product has called Denver his home throughout his NBA career despite being involved in a number of trade rumors. In his sixth season in the Rocky Mountains, Faried is currently averaging 8.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 23.0 minutes of action per game.
7. Kristaps Porzingis
Who’s this angry young buck? He does have a trophy in hand, but he still remains to look like he’s pissed off about something! Maybe it’s a participation trophy? The cornrow sporting kid is none other than the man KD has referred to as a “unicorn”, Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis almost never, if ever, has looked angry on the NBA hardwood since being drafted by the New York Knicks. On the contrary, he looks laser focused. Not to forget, he’s ditched the blonde cornrows for a shorter haircut. Hopefully, the next time Porzingis receives an award he isn’t appalled like he seems to be in this picture. Porzingis in his second season as a Knick and has improved as he has upped his scoring from fourteen a game to twenty a game.
6. David West
At first glance, if I were to take a guess, I would have said that this was Zach Randolph. I got the position right; but I didn’t get the player right. This right here is current Warrior (and who could easily pass as Mareese Speights’ twin), power forward, David West.
West, who sports a clean bean looks far different with hair. The former Xavier Musketeer has played for thirteen seasons in the NBA and is clearly focused on one thing and one thing only, which is obtaining that illusive NBA Championship ring. Last year, he was a member of the Spurs; this year, he is a member of the Warriors. This is the same person who said he wasn’t a ring chaser when he was a member of the Indiana Pacers. Your actions seem to say otherwise, Mr. West.
5. Bradley Beal
Who do we have here? Here’s a hint, John Wall and this baby don’t tend to get along well on the court. Here, we have the kid that rapper Nelly used to walk to school as a child and former Florida Gator, Bradley Beal, who looks to be quite the large baby! That’s not something that translated to present day. Beal, who just signed a max contract in the offseason is having a career year for the Washington Wizards. Beal is averaging a career high of 21.6 PPG which is the first time he has averaged over 17 a game. He is also shooting a sizzling 42% from three point land which also happens to be the best of his career. Beal is a stud when on the court but injuries have consistently plagued him and he’s already missed three games this season.
4. Chris Bosh
The caption for this picture should be, “oh you mad cuz I’m stylin’ on ya”! The red blazer, the red bow tie and check out the young man’s hand signal; it looks like he’s throwing up a “Four Horsemen” taunt that would make Ric Flair smile. Here we have the fourth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, Chris Bosh.
Bosh looked pretty different when he cut the twists in his hair, but most wouldn’t guess that this was a childhood picture of Bosh. Bosh is currently in a corundum as he believes he is healthy enough to play, while his team, the Miami Heat beg to differ. Whether it is on or off a basketball court, all the best to Chris Bosh in his future!
3. John Wall
I wonder what news this child received prior to this snapshot being taken because he looks like he’s just about ready to jump for joy. This image is quite different from the player we know today. This is John Wall. On the court, Wall almost never smiles. Moreover, he has a stern look on his face that echoes unparalleled seriousness. The passion that Wall oozes is quite remarkable. It’s this seriousness that has made Wall one of the upper echelon Point Guards of the NBA. While Wall’s Wizards are struggling, the same can not be said about him. Wall is averaging a career high 23.6 PPG, 9.5 APG, 4.3 RPG and a career high 2.2 SPG. Wall and the Wiz probably aren’t playoff bound, but he looks to be a lock for the All-Star game.
2. J.J. Redick
Big bro (presumably) looks pretty bewildered in this picture despite having his arm around his younger brother. The younger kid, on the other hand, looks to be as happy as can be and a breath of fresh air. Here, we have current Los Angeles Clippers Shooting Guard and former Duke Blue Devil standout, J.J. Redick. Maybe its the facial expression, maybe it’s the fact that he’s missing a good amount of teeth from his grill, but this doesn’t strike one as Redick instantaneously. Redick is now in his twelfth season in the NBA, with it being his forth in Lala Land. Redick is coming off a campaign in which he shot a career high, scorching 47.5% from three point land and a career high 16.4 PPG.
1. Russell Westbrook
Hint, he’s everyone’s favorite babyfaced assassin (unless Steph Curry is more your cup of tea). Need another clue? He’s a player everyone is now rooting for because Kevin Durant deserted him. This right here is Russell Westbrook. Seeing Westbrook with braids may catch one off guard at first glance, as we’re more used to seeing him with his current shorter haircut. Seeing Westbrook with chubby cheeks is strange given that he’s arguably the best conditioned athlete in the entire league. With Durant departing OKC for GS, the Thunder is officially Westbrook’s team, and he has shown that he’s more than up for the task, currently averaging an unheard of triple-double per game. The last time that was accomplished was in the 1961-1962 season by Oscar Robertson. If anyone has a chance of doing it again, it’s Westbrook.