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Russell Westbrook
Photo: Stephen Gosling

Russell Westbrook

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Russell Westbrook of the NBA's Houston Rockets has drawn attention for his explosive scoring performances and creative outfits.

Who Is Russell Westbrook?

Russell Westbrook learned to play basketball from his hoops-loving father. After joining the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008, the point guard became one of pro basketball's most dynamic players; he led his team to the 2012 NBA Finals and was named MVP in 2017 after becoming the first player in 55 years to average a triple-double for the entire season. Also known for his eccentric outfits, Westbrook has collaborated with Barneys New York and launched an eyewear brand.

Early Years and Schools

Russell Westbrook III was born on November 12, 1988, in Long Beach, California, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He learned to play basketball from his dad, a playground star who devised drills for Westbrook and younger brother Raynard to follow. Russell Sr. and mom Shannon Horton also made sure their two boys focused on academics, with Westbrook eventually becoming an honor student.

Westbrook attracted little attention as 5'8" freshman at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California, and the following year he endured a personal tragedy when teammate Khelcey Barrs died after a pickup game. Westbrook played his way into the starting lineup as a junior, and that summer he underwent a growth spurt that suddenly transformed him into a major college basketball prospect. As a senior, he averaged more than 25 points per game and dunked for the first time, and was recruited to play for Ben Howland at UCLA.

The athletic, explosive Westbrook helped UCLA reach the Final Four in both of his seasons at UCLA, earning all-conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. He was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Seattle Supersonics, which officially became the Oklahoma City Thunder a few days later.

Pro Basketball Career and Stats

Westbrook was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team after averaging more than 15 points per game in his first season, and by his third season he became just the fifth player in league history to accumulate 4,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,000 rebounds by that point of his career. Paired with fellow All-Star Kevin Durant, Westbrook helped a young, exciting Thunder team reach the 2011 Western Conference Finals.

The 6'3" point guard averaged 23.6 points per game during the 2011-12 season and led the Thunder to an NBA Finals matchup against the Miami Heat. Although billed a showdown between scoring champion Durant and Heat superstar LeBron James, Westbrook often stole the show with his explosive drives and tenacious play before Miami pulled away to win in five games. Later that summer, he earned an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. men's basketball team.

Westbrook underwent surgery after suffering a torn meniscus during the 2013 playoffs, and a second operation a few months later ended his streak of 394 consecutive regular-season games played. Although he returned to the lineup early in the 2013-14 NBA season, Westbrook underwent a third operation on the knee at the end of December and missed two more months.

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Following years of criticism that he didn't pass the ball enough as a point guard, Westbrook became his team's top scoring option when Durant was sidelined with a foot injury for much of the 2014-15 NBA season. After scoring a near-record 41 points to win All-Star MVP honors, Westbrook embarked on an incredible run in which he delivered six triple-doubles in eight games. He wound up leading the league with an average of 28.7 points per game, an accomplishment rendered bittersweet when the Thunder were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the season.

Triple-Double Machine

When Durant left in free agency after the 2015-16 season, Westbrook took it upon himself to carry Oklahoma City without his longtime partner in crime. Racking up a triple-double (double digits in three statistical categories) seemingly every other day, the Thunder's floor leader kept his team in playoff contention with his virtuoso performances. By the end of 2017, he had surpassed Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson's single-season record with his 42nd triple-double while becoming the first player since Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double for the entire season, an overwhelming showing that earned him NBA MVP honors. 

Amazingly, Westbrook averaged a triple-double in each of the next two seasons as well, the 2018-19 campaign concluding with a career-high 11.1 rebounds per game for the point guard. However, the Thunder failed to make an impact in the playoffs during those seasons, despite the pairing of Westbrook with fellow MVP candidate Paul George.

In July 2019, Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets, a move that reunited him with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden.

Fashion Design & Other Interests

Along with his dazzling play, Westbrook has drawn attention for his colorful and creative outfits. His fashion interests led to a collaboration with luxury department store Barneys New York, which began selling the Westbrook XO Barneys New York line in 2014. He also launched the Westbrook Frames eyewear brand that year, and in early 2015 he was named marketing creative director of True Religion's spring campaign. In March 2016, he launched a clothing line with the company.

The NBA star founded the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation in 2012 to support community based education and family service programs. 

Wife & Children

In August 2015 Westbrook married his college sweetheart, Nina Earl. The couple had a son, Noah, in May 2017, and in November 2018 they had twin daughters, Jordan and Skye.

Among his personal interests, the basketball star enjoys playing video games, bowling and spending time with family.

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