Patrick Ewing's early life as an immigrant from Jamaica was difficult. He rose above by dedicating himself to basketball, gaining entry in 1981 into Georgetown University, where he quickly became a team leader. He went on to play for the New York Knicks, Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic. He went on to win two Olympic gold medals in basketball in 1984 and 1992, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Patrick Aloysius Ewing was born in Kingston, Jamaica, August 5, 1962, to father Carl Ewing, who worked as a mechanic, and mother Dorothy Ewing, who stayed at home to raise the family's seven children. Ewing's parents immigrated to American when Patrick was seven. However, the family suffered so much financially that Ewing remained on the island for four years with his siblings, until his parents earned enough to bring each of the children to the U.S. Ewing finally came to America at the age of 11, moving into a five-room house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the rest of his family.
Patrick Ewing, who was already excelling at cricket and soccer, learned to play basketball with the help of some neighborhood children playing a pick-up game. The young man, who was already six-feet six-inches by the time he was 12, took to the game very naturally. School, however, was more of a feat for Ewing, who had to take summer school classes and use the help of tutors to make his way academically.
Determined to succeed, Ewing worked hard as a high school student at Cambridge's Rindge and Latin School. On the court, Ewing led his team to three state championships, and also tried out for the 1980 Olympic team. Although he didn't make the team, the experience was a coup to the young athlete, who was the first high school student to be invited to the Olympic basketball try-outs. During this time, Ewing also joined the MIT-Wellesley Upward Bound Program, a college-prep program for economically disadvantaged high school students. The work paid off; Ewing earned entry into Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
As a Georgetown athlete, Ewing was quickly a team leader. With the help of Ewing's leadership, the Georgetown Hoyas reached the championship game of the NCAA tournament three out of the four years Ewing was on the team. In 1984, the Hoyas won the NCAA championship and Ewing was chosen as the Outstanding Player of the tournament, beating out experienced player Hakeem Olajuwon for the title. That same year, Ewing again tried out for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. This time, he was accepted onto the team, which won the gold medal that year.
But while life on the court was successful for Ewing, the player's personal life was rocky and tumultuous. In 1983, Ewing's mother passed away from a heart attack. While still grieving for his mother, the athlete learned that high school sweetheart Sharon Stanford was pregnant with their child. Patrick Aloysius Ewing, Jr. was born May 21, 1984, while Ewing was still a college student.
Ewing was frightened by the prospect of supporting a young child as a student, but he held true to the promise he made to his mother to finish school. He turned down multiple lucrative endorsements and offers of professional ball until his graduation in 1985. That year, Ewing was in high demand by the National Basketball Association. The New York Knicks won the Draft Lottery, and selected Ewing first overall.
New York Knicks
Although he sustained several injuries his first year in the league, Ewing still managed to average 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game. His performance earned Ewing the NBA Rookie of the Year title, and credibility as one of the premier centers in the league. Ewing enjoyed a successful career with the Knicks for more than 15 years, playing against opponents such as Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippin. He was named an NBA All-Star 11 times, made it to the All-NBA First Team and Second Team, and was a member of the original "Dream Team" at the 1992 Olympic Games.
In 2000, Patrick Ewing left the Knicks as part of a trade to the Seattle SuperSonics. After a year with the Sonics, and another with the Orlando Magic, he announced his retirement. On September 18, 2002, Ewing left professional basketball. That season, he took a job as assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. On February 28, 2003, Ewing's jersey, "No. 33" was retired in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden. In 2008, Ewing was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
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