Tracy Lamar McGrady Jr, commonly known as “T-Mac,” is a seven time NBA All Star, seven time all NBA selection, and the NBA scoring champion twice (2003 & 2004). McGrady played as a swingman, often listed as a shooting guard or small forward. From the 1997/1998 to 2012/2013 NBA seasons, McGrady played for the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, and San Antonio Spurs. After the Spurs lost to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, he announced his retirement from the NBA. In 2013/2014 he played for the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association. McGrady was already ranked 75th on SLAM Magazine's 'Top 75 Players Ever’ list in 2003, with a current ranking of 39th, and at one point ranked 31st. His style of play is compared to Vince Carter, Scottie Pippen, Oscar Robertson, and George Gervin. Kobe Bryant claims that McGrady is the toughest player he ever played against at any level, calling McGrady “unstoppable”.
He was born on May 24, 1979 in Bartow, FL, to Melanise Williford in Auburndale, FL. He is the product of an area known as “The Hill” in Auburndale, a small town of about 9,000. Auburndale is known for it’s many lakes and is in Central Florida, between Orlando and Tampa. Tracy’s immediate family has always been a major influence in his life. He was raised by his mother, Melanise and grandmother, Roberta, so Tracy grew to know both of these women as ‘mom'.
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
While at Auburndale High, he quickly became a two-sport superstar. He absolutely loved baseball and his aspirations of playing in the Major Leagues overshadowed any thoughts of the NBA. Some Auburndale coaches were certain that McGrady would be playing in a Major League ballpark instead of on a NBA court. Tracy’s hoops tale began in his junior year at Auburndale High. He averaged 23.1 pts and 12.2 rebounds a game with the Bloodhounds during the season. But despite the great numbers, Tracy was not receiving the type of attention that someone with his talents normally got. The only schools that showed interest in him were Florida and Miami.
Soon after his junior year at Auburndale High School in Central Florida, he was invited to participate in the ABCD Camp. Tracy was still looking to get on the map and show the basketball world what he could do. During the senior all-star game at the camp, he dribbled down the left wing on a fast break. Realizing it was James Felton, a 6’9” blue-chipper from NJ who committed to St Johns, between him and the basket, Tracy threw down a vicious windmill dunk over a contesting Felton. Tracy sent the entire gym and surrounding area into a frenzy. It was after this play that word began to travel very quickly about this skinny kid from Florida. “After I made that dunk, I had chills run through my body, like the moment I knew I finally arrived,” said McGrady. One of the most popular recruiting newsletter’s “Hoop Scoop” called McGrady “the sleeper of the decade.” Ironically, he wasn’t included in the list of the top 500 prospects before the summer, however in the next edition of the list, he was ranked #2 behind Lamar Odom. While Tracy was still in high school, he was featured in a three page article in a February 1997 issue of the Sports Illustrated magazine.
Joe Hopkins, the head basketball coach at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina, received a call about Tracy. It was Alvin Jones Jr, a basketball coach at Kathleen High, one of Auburndale High's neighboring schools. During a visit to Central Florida, Hopkins took time to meet with Tracy and his two “mothers”. Coach Hopkins decided to offer Tracy a scholarship to attend Mount Zion, and Tracy McGrady began his rise to T-Mac.
His senior season was his one year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham. It was a successful experience, as Joe Hopkins has been a big part of Tracy’s life. Hopkins taught McGrady to respect others, himself, and the game of basketball. “He is my backbone, if it weren’t for Coach Hopkins, none of this would be possible.”, said McGrady.
McGrady led Mount Zion to a 20-1 record and the team earned the #2 ranking in the nation in USA TODAY’s Super 25. Tracy’s senior year, he averaged 28 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals per game while shooting 56% from the field, 39% from the three point line, and 79% from the free throw line. Tracy was named the USA Today “Player of the Year” and “Player of the Year” for the state of North Carolina by The Associated Press. McGrady also was named to the McDonald’s All-American Team solidifying his position as an elite basketball talent. Obviously, Tracy began receiving attention from all of the top colleges, but also heard he was getting attention from the NBA. As McGrady was about to commit to Kentucky, he started to get an abundance of interest from agents and NBA organizations. Tracy, with the help of his “mothers”, ultimately decided to enter the NBA draft as opposed to attending college.
The 6-8, 205 lb prep star, known for playing all five positions at Mount Zion, announced he would make himself available for the 1997 NBA draft in June. “This is the best decision for me and my family. I considered college but my dream is to make it to the top and I have a chance to do that earlier.”, said McGrady.
On draft day(June 25th), questions were being raised in regards to when/if Tracy would get drafted. Well, he didn’t have to answer those questions very long as he was the 9th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. He has since joined a small list of players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Jermaine O’Neal to make a successful transition from high school straight to the NBA. McGrady’s quick success helped many other future 'High School to NBA' players before a 2006 rule implemented by the NBA. The rule stated players must be 19 and one year removed from high school before they can become a member of the league.
Tracy’s time with the Toronto Raptors allowed him to play alongside his cousin, Vince Carter from 1997-2000. They both were contestants in the NBA’s Slam dunk contest in 2000, where Carter won the title with McGrady finishing second. In a rare occurrence, McGrady helped Carter during the contest, becoming the first contestant to participate in another contestant’s dunk attempts. As Carter and McGrady performed some of the most incredible dunks ever, it certainly raised Tracy’s game to a higher level.
After the seasons as Carter’s sidekick, Tracy chose to be traded to the Orlando Magic in 2000 for a first round draft pick. This trade paid off immediately for both the Magic and McGrady, as fans everywhere saw the arrival of 'T-Mac'. Mcgrady blossomed into an elite superstar in Orlando and was quickly regarded as a top 5 player in the league. The 2000/2001 season was his first with the Magic and he showed everyone why he was drafted directly from high school. During that season, Tracy won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award and was named a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. With more success during the 2001/2002 season, his second with the Magic, T-Mac had arguably become the league’s best player. The 2002/2003 NBA season, his third with the Magic, he won the NBA’s scoring title. Scoring an astonishing 32 points per game, T-Mac became the youngest scoring champion since the NBA/ABA merger. The 2003/2004 season, McGrady’s fourth with the Magic, brought him another scoring title while averaging 28 points per game. That season also included McGrady’s single game, career-high of 62 points, against the Washington Wizards on March 10, 2004.
Although Tracy had enormous personal success, his Magic team’s never made it past the first round of the playoffs. In June of 2004, Tracy was traded to the Houston Rockets in a seven-player trade among multiple teams. It gave McGrady a fresh start on a new team, while pairing him up with the 7’6” Yao Ming. During the 2004/2005 season, his first in Houston, Tracy led them to a fifth place finish in the Western Conference. However, in the first round of the playoffs, Houston was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in seven games. The 2005/06 season saw an injured McGrady and the Rockets fail to reach the playoffs. In 2006/2007 Tracy led the Rockets to a 52-30 record which was their best finish in over a decade. Yet again, Houston lost a tough series in 7 games, this time to the Utah Jazz. Visibly frustrated following the game 7 loss, Tracy promised to lead Houston to an improved 2007/2008 season. In early 2008, Houston won 22 consecutive games, which was the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history. Houston entered the post season as the 5th seed, again facing the Utah Jazz. During February, Yao Ming suffered a broken foot that kept him out of the second half of the season. Without their second best player, the Rockets played better than expected and won game 3 on Utah’s court. However, even with McGrady’s 40 points and 10 rebounds, the Rockets lost game six and the series 4-2 for another first round exit. Then in May 2008, Tracy had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and left knee. McGrady missed 18 games of the 2008/2009 season before the 2009 All-Star break because of his left knee injury. Reports began to surface that McGrady knew, before the season, his knee was not healed when he began to practice again. McGrady had another surgery on his left knee in March of 2009, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2008/2009 season. Doctors said the surgery was on a small area of the knee and the rest of his knee was completely healthy. McGrady was on the injured reserve list for the playoffs while Houston beat the Trail Blazers 4–2 in the first round. They lost in the second round to the eventual NBA champions, the LA Lakers in 7 games. As McGrady was on Houston’s roster during the 2009 playoffs, he advanced past the first round for the first time in his career. The 2009/2010 season was McGrady's last with Houston and due to injuries, he saw limited minutes as a reserve in just six games.
In February 2010 McGrady was traded to the Knicks in a multi team deal that included Houston, New York, and Sacramento. McGrady played his first game for the Knicks just two days later, scoring 26 points in a loss vs OKC Thunder. He finished the 2009/2010 season, averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 26 mins a game. Over the next two years, his production continued to decrease as he averaged only 8 points a game for the Pistons during the 2010/2011 season and his career lowest of 5.3 points a game for the Hawks during the 2011–12 season.
During October, 2012, T-Mac signed a one year contract with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles, playing in the Chinese Basketball Association. Tracy’s team finished the season in last place even with McGrady averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals a game. A few weeks after the CBA season ended, Tracy gladly signed with the Spurs and was activated for their playoff roster. The Spurs made it to the Finals but lost to the Miami Heat in a 7 game series. Ironically, McGrady's last career playing minutes were also his first during an NBA Finals.
On an ESPN program titled “First Take”, McGrady announced his retirement from the NBA on August 26, 2013. Tracy McGrady won numerous individual accolades and continues to be one of the league’s most recognizable superstars and men. He was selected to the NBA All-Star Team seven times since 2001 and has been an All-NBA selection 7 times as well. In 2007, he appeared on the cover of a basketball video game, NBA Live 07.
It’s obvious that Tracy never limited himself to working solely on the court. Always a forward thinker, McGrady understands how to positively impact people around the world without a basketball. Tracy is involved in his foundation, The Tracy McGrady Foundation, and is very active in the Florida and Houston communities.
He takes trips to Asia, where he serves as an ambassador for basketball and to bring positivity to people across the world.
McGrady travels to the Darfurian refugee camps with leaders of the Enough Project, helping with the crisis in Darfur. Tracy first visited in the summer of 2007, to better understand the situation, saying, “I knew I had to go. I could have read about it or seen it on TV, but you have to be hands on for the full effect. In order to really understand the devastation and the sadness of it all.” McGrady brought a film crew with him to make the documentary, “3 Points”, to raise awareness and do everything he can to help with the crisis.
Tracy recruited NBA players to support a program trying to link schools in Darfurian refugee camps to American middle & high schools, and universities.
In 2009, McGrady changed his jersey number to three to raise awareness about the Darfur region of the Sudan and educating people about the situation through "3 Points".
McGrady has focused some of his business interests on Dasdak, a tech firm in D.C. and Blue-04, a water company in Florida.
Tracy started a long term business partnership with adidas, with one of his contingencies being that it continued well beyond his playing career. He is known as one of the first pro athlete's to negotiate a long-term endorsement extending beyond his playing career; which he did at 18 years old.
Tracy McGrady and his wife CleRenda Harris have two daughters, Layla Clarice and Laycee Aloe, and son's Laymen Lamar and Layden. Their first son was born on December 27, 2005, during an 82–74 loss against the Jazz in which McGrady left before halftime to be present for. CleRenda and Tracy married on September 12, 2006 in Mexico.
McGrady and Vince Carter are third cousins as Tracy's and Vince’s grandmother's are cousins. McGrady learned of this at a family reunion while he was in high school and Vince was enrolled at UNC. They were teammates on the Toronto Raptors before McGrady left for Orlando. After McGrady left, he and Carter had a small feud that was quickly resolved.
Tracy's younger brother, Chancellor "Chance" McGrady, played for the 2008 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball runner-up Memphis Tigers basketball team.
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