That doesn’t mean he’s not trying, though. Using hi…

That doesn’t mean he’s not trying, though. Using his connection with Stan Van Gundy, his former head coach with the Orlando Magic and now the head coach and president of basketball operations for Detroit, he got himself an invite to Summer League for a chance to prove himself. Van Gundy guaranteed him nothing in providing the opportunity, but Cook is hoping to make the most of it, if only to show his gratitude to Van Gundy. “He was one of the first guys I called in being a free agent because I’m very comfortable with his offense,” Cook said. “I look back at my career, and he’s one of the few coaches that really cared about me and held me accountable. When you’re young, you don’t realize that. I’ve been at home with my kids and my wife, and I’ve matured during that process. (Van Gundy) gave me a shot to come down here. I’m ready.”
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The resilience that helped Murray push through a trying professional start wasn’t entirely organic, though. It was molded through heartbreak; a glimpse at why he is the way he is only fortifies the belief that Murray is a person worth investing in. Years before he was a Spur, when even the thought of playing in the NBA was a different universe over, Murray faced a nightmarish adolescence, perfused by grief, terror and harrowing uncertainty. “It’s a story that’s never been heard before because I was in the streets for real, for real. I didn’t live off of nobody’s name,” he says. “It ain’t nothing to brag about. This s— is crazy when I wake up. I’m playing in the NBA. I’m on a video game. I have fans that buy my jersey. It still don’t feel real. I’ve been here five years; I feel like it’s a dream still.”
Every player who makes the NBA is a miracle. Every story is spruced with dabs of luck, a trail of serendipity, cosmic happenstance and mounds of adversity that were eventually cleared. For Murray, the mere fact that he’s still alive and free is its own tall tale. “I feel like the path I took to get here,” he starts, “what I had overcome, nobody ever overcame. Nobody’s ever been in my situation and made it to where I’m at today.”
“I’m in the stage right now where I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to tell my story to motivate the world and allow the world to know who Dejounte Murray is,” he says. “I’ve been real quiet and to myself about it, because it traumatized me. To this day it haunts me still. If you just think of the streets, a young kid in the streets, gangbanging, around drugs and just doing anything to get money, that was what it was. That’s what I was. I wouldn’t even say I was taught that. It was that or it was no way.”
When Murray was first arrested in middle school, it didn’t phase him. “Juvenile? That was nothing to me at 11 years old. I wasn’t scared; I wasn’t nervous, because I knew what to expect from going to jail.” His relationship with violence was frequent, felt in the body-numbing sensation that takes over after hearing a close friend or cousin has been fatally shot. His mother was in and out of prison and his father wasn’t always around. “I love my mom to death. My dad, me and him are still working on ways to become closer,” Murray says. “He wasn’t a deadbeat, but neither one of them were full-time parents.”
Murray bounced from one apartment to the next, one hotel room to another. Couch to couch. His mother was kicked off state housing the first time he was arrested. Evictions weren’t uncommon. “I don’t even have a favorite cartoon. That’s how much I was in the streets. You know what I’m saying?” Murray says. “I can’t even tell my daughter I had a favorite cartoon growing up, and that f—- with me. That bothers me a lot.”
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