Dejounte Murray is a testament to perseverance through adversity. The Seattle native was born into a family that succumbed to the traps of a blighted neighborhood — from his grandmother down to his parents, who reportedly were all gang members.
However, watching the tragedies of street life around him and the early mentorship of a local NBA star helped steer Murray into a more purposeful life.
10 Years Ago I Was In Juvenile And That Whole Month In There I Told The Guards Ima Get Out And Change My Life And Never Come Back And They Told Me I Will Be Right Back. 10 Years Later Them Same Guards Asking For Pictures And My Autograph!! Look At GOD!!!
— Dejounte Murray (@DejounteMurray) May 20, 2022
“10 Years Ago I Was In Juvenile And That Whole Month In There I Told The Guards Ima Get Out And Change My Life And Never Come Back And They Told Me I Will Be Right Back. 10 Years Later Them Same Guards Asking For Pictures And My Autograph!! Look At GOD!!!”
Sleepless In Seattle
Murray attended Rainier Beach High School. While there, he excelled athletically. However, before he became a 2015 Parade All-American, the 2015 Washington Gatorade Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, WIAA Mr. Basketball, Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune Player of the Year, he was in juvenile detention.
“All my homeboys got caught up in something; I’m talking like 20 to 30 of them, Murray said to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. “I happened to be in juvenile for like a month, and I wasn’t around none of my partners — all of them going to jail, going to jail, going to jail.
“So like I came home my sophomore year, and I’m like damn, all my friends in jail, like I’m in juvenile and I’m on the phone, and they like such and such got picked up for this. So I come home and there’s only like two of my homeboys left. Before I went to juvenile, there was like 40 of us. I sit down with my uncle; his name’s Terry. I sit down with him, and I’m like, ‘I want to change my life for real.’ ”
Black Boys Need Mentors
Murray found a mentor in Jamal Crawford, three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year from his neighborhood, who even went to the same high school. He steered Murray when his life could have gone in a very different toxic direction.
“Jail ain’t for me. I know I’m going to die or go to jail. It’s that simple. I know what came with the streets, and Jamal (Crawford) kept pushing that issue. He kept pushing it no matter what. He was texting me all the time.
“He got a game in probably Phoenix tomorrow; he’s worried about me; he texting me or trying to call me like, ‘Get out the streets, bro. Go to school, go get in that gym every day.’ Sophomore year I ain’t never look back. Since I got out of juvenile my sophomore year, I ain’t never look back.”
Murray played one college season at Washington, where he was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team. Foregoing his last three years at school, Murray became the 29th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft to the team he has spent his entire career with, the San Antonio Spurs.
Murray was drafted to potentially replace Tony Parker at the guard position. However, he started as a role player before solidifying himself as a franchise cornerstone.
Spurs guard Dejounte Murray this year became the FIRST PLAYER IN NBA HISTORY to average 20+ points, 8+ rebounds, 9+ assists and 2+ steals in a season. Ever.
— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) April 11, 2022
After spending much of his rookie season with the Austin Spurs of the G League, the following season he became the youngest player in NBA history to crack an All-Defensive team. He joined Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan as the only other players who qualified during their age-21 seasons.
This season, Murray led the NBA in steals and was named to his first All-Star Game since turning pro. After a rough start in life, Dejounte Murray is living his truth.