This is part one of a multipart series on the enigma that is DeMarcus Cousins. This series is going to cover everything from his early years before he ever picked up a basketball, to his discovery of basketball, high school, college, his misconceptions as a person and his salvation as an NBA player.
DeMarcus Cousins never wanted to play basketball when he was growing up. Basketball wasn’t the “it” sport in Alabama -that title belonged to football. The margin between the two sports’ popularity in that region isn’t even close. When people say “Roll Tide” in Alabama it will never be about basketball-it’s always going to be about football.
Football is the sport that DeMarcus wanted to play. Before he turned thirteen years of age he was strictly a football player. Everyone tried to get him off the field and on to the court, but he refused every request.
DeMarcus was a quarterback, and a damn good one. His prowess may be a little embellished, as many stories from children are. Stories have said that Cousins could throw the ball sixty yards easily, could run like Randall Cunningham and once after a game then- Alabama coach, Mike Shula, offered him a scholarship.
Are these stories true?
They are at the very least plausible. John Elway could throw a football 50 yards as an 11 year old, so it is possible a 13 year old could throw it sixty. If you’ve seen him rebound a ball, take off down the court now, dribble around five guys and dunk, you can’t rule out that he could have moved like Randall Cunningham on the football field. A major college program recruiting a 13 year old is not uncommon and probably happens more than we like to admit.
What caused this football crazed kid to stop playing the game he loved so much?
He was freakishly tall for his age and because of this he was taking many shots to his legs during games. So his mother, Monique, told him that he needed to stop playing football.
He fought her tooth and nail for almost two years, but since he adores his mother above all else he finally relented. After one of his Alabama Little League Football games, DeMarcus was walking across a basketball court after changing in a shared locker room. One of the basketball coaches ran up to him, thinking he was a junior in high school. The coach asked him if he knew of any eighth graders on his football team that would come out for the basketball team.
Cousins said he was in eighth grade, but wasn’t interested.
Shocked, the coach worked him down and eventually got him on the court. Days later, DeMarcus Cousins was playing his first game of organized basketball.
Next - Part II: The New Romance With Basketball