DeAndre Ayton’s basketball career started in the Bahamas, and now the big man is in the running to be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. DeAndre’s mother, Andrea Ayton, has been her son’s biggest fan. DeAndre spoke with ESPN about his life growing up in the Bahamas.
“To me, I don’t even think I had a childhood,” DeAndre told ESPN. “From when I was a baby to 12 years old, yes. But as soon as I left the Bahamas, that stuff was over. It was just straight business. I’m on a mission. That’s how it’s always been…Most people say they’re in poverty because they’ve got a little Android [phone]. Those people [in the Bahamas] don’t have phones. No house phones. People live in wood houses, straw houses. No electricity and barely any water, even though we’re surrounded by water. My mom and dad, they really did a good job because they did their best to not show us that part of the world.”
Learn more about DeAndre’s family.
1. DeAndre Is From the Bahamas & Moved to the United States to Play Basketball
According to Bleacher Report, DeAndre was fascinated by basketball at a young age, and used to stop at a local gym to watch some of the older kids play basketball instead of catching the bus home. He grew up near Nassau, Bahamas where he initially learned to play basketball at a church league. His size caused the organizers to put DeAndre in a league with much older kids, and the experience was not enjoyable.
Years later he enrolled at a summer basketball camp, where coaches noticed his natural ability. DeAndre’s family agreed to send him to San Diego where a new basketball program was being established. Things did not go as planned in San Diego, but DeAndre along with his mother eventually moved to Phoenix, Arizona for DeAndre to attend Hillcrest Prep.
2. The Ayton Family Issued a Statement Refuting an ESPN Report Linking Deandre to a Pay-For-Play Scheme at Arizona
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported Arizona coach Sean Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment with Christian Dawkins for Ayton to play at Arizona. The timeline of the ESPN report has been refuted by other media outlets, and the Ayton family issued a statement to ESPN denying any involvement.
The parents of DeAndre Ayton, and his family are outraged and disgusted by the reported recent news stories which have falsely implied that her son or his family have any involvement in illegal or prohibited activities regarding his decision to matriculate at the University of Arizona.
DeAndre’s family would like for the public to consider the following:
1. DeAndre directly stated to the FBI, more than six months ago, that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, or any shoe company or anyone on behalf of either- Period. This includes basketball and anything else.
2. DeAndre’s decision to commit to the University of Arizona was based on his family ties to Phoenix, and his knowledge of and familiarity with the basketball program. He and his family moved to Phoenix Arizona and he played for HIllcrest Prep Academy.
3. DeAndre Calls His Stepfather, Alvin, His Dad & Does Not Have a Strong Relationship With His Biological Father
According to Sports Illustrated, DeAndre’s biological father lives in Londo, Bahamas and tried to reconnect with his son after he became a top high school prospect.
“He’s a stranger,” DeAndre told Sports Illustrated. “I don’t want to hear nothing he has to say. He’s only contacting me for one thing. What else is he going to talk to me about?”
According to Bleacher Report, he calls his stepfather Alvin his dad, and it was Alvin’s plumbing business that helped DeAndre earn money to attend a local basketball camp. Bleacher Report detailed DeAndre’s dilemma of attending the basketball camp, or using the money to buy a lot of candy.
It wasn’t until several years later, in the summer of 2011, that Deandre got his big basketball break. After school let out, he had apprenticed for a week with Alvin, whom he calls Dad. Alvin, a plumber, let all of his children join him on jobs during school breaks, and he’d pay them $20 a day. At the end of the first week, $100 cash in hand, Deandre had a decision to make: Use the money to pay his fee for the Jeff Rodgers camp, the Bahamas’ premier summer basketball program, or blow it all on gummy worms and sour skittles.
4. DeAndre’s Mother Insisted He Attend College Rather Than Play Basketball Overseas
During DeAndre’s college announcement, he emphasized the importance of his family being able to watch his games. According to Kentucky.com, his mother also wanted him to attend college for at least a year before turning pro, rather than playing professionally overseas after graduating high school.
“I made Arizona home,” DeAndre said in his commitment to Arizona. “My family can benefit from it by coming to my games. … We really trust those guys. We really trust their program. And I know they can help me get to the next level…My family and I have said college is a must.”
5. Andrea Thought Her Son Would Be a Comedian Rather Than a Basketball Player
Andrea knew her son would be a star, but she thought he might become a comedian. Andrea spoke with ESPN about what DeAndre was like growing up.
“Growing up, Deandre would always say he was a star,” Andrea told ESPN. “I never thought it would be basketball. I thought he’d be a comedian.”
When DeAndre came to the United States, it was a difficult decision for the family.
“My dad didn’t want me to come,” Ayton told ESPN. “My mom said, ‘Hey, we don’t have [the money]. But it’s a great opportunity.’ She just sent me off. She didn’t care what he had to say.”