Leonard’s father, James, passed away when Leonard was six years old. That left his mother to raise Meyers and his brother by herself. They moved from house to house, enduring power and water shut-offs, living on what they could afford (which was close to nothing). Leonard’s mother, Tracie, was victimized with crippling back pain that left her housebound after her husband’s death. In the second grade, Leonard would find a surrogate family to help him in a time of need. Brian Siler, an insurance agent in Robinson, Illinois, knew of the family’s situation and became Leonard’s surrogate father. From there, Leonard became a top-ranked prospect in high-school basketball. A five-star player who was recruited by many schools, Leonard decided to stay close to home and attend the University of Illinois. Playing two seasons at Illinois, Leonard achieved some of the highest honors, such as becoming an All Big-10 honorable mention in his sophomore season. After his second season at Illinois, Leonard declared for the 2012 NBA Draft.
CJ McCollum: “We need to play like somebody took our lunch money, like somebody disrespected your mother. I think that’s the type of anger you need have and the aggression you need to have on the court. That doesn’t mean making mad faces or mean faces but it means attacking the glass, strongly attacking the rim when you have the ball on offense. If somebody is about to get a layup, commit that foul and make sure they don’t get the ball up.”