Life after the NBA: TJ Ford starts program, AAU team & HS Basketball Tournament
TJ Ford is one of the greatest high school ballers to ever come out of the Houston area. He won the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award while playing at the University of Texas. He was drafted 8th in the great 2003 draft, which is known for the Miami Big 3, Carmelo and the bust that is Darko. In a Sports Illustrated survey of over 200 NBA players, he was voted the fastest player in the league.
The only reason why Ford still isn’t in the league and why he wasn’t on All-Star teams with the other top picks from his draft were because of a string of injuries, including a near career-ending one (contusion of the spinal chord) during his rookie season. The injury cost Ford a season and a half. In his first game back on the court, he was just a rebound shy of a triple-double (16 points, 14 assists 9 rebounds). He finished the season averaging 12 & 7.
Ford played six more seasons in the NBA, with the Raptors, Pacers and Spurs. After an elbow to the back in 2012, Ford decided to retire at the age of 28.
“When he walked away from playing, people thought that was a bad idea,” said his mother, Mary. “But you walk away when you can walk. That’s what he did.”
TJ Ford is back on the court but not as a player but as a coach and a mentor. He’s sharing his experience and knowledge of the game with kids in his TJ Ford Academy that includes basketball camps, an AAU team and a tournament called the “TJ Ford Invitational” that will go down this weekend in Austin, TX.
For his camp in Houston, TX, Ford has brought in his network of friends ranging from Floyd Mayweather to Vince Young to WNBA great Tina Thompson to ex NBA player James Posey, who is now coaching in the D-league, to be a part of the activities in his camp and share their stories, messages and tips with the students.
“Playing professional basketball isn’t a given,” said Ford. “You have to get something else out of this game. You have to get joy from it and life skills. It might not become your whole life.”
“A lot of my experiences with basketball were great, and a lot of them were tough. I want to teach these players that either way, it’s OK. You can still be a leader every day, you can learn to be prepared every day and you can make other people better every day.”
You can read more about The TJ Ford Program and Tournament at his website TJFORDBASKETBALL.com