basketball, volleyball

Kawhi Leonard biography: 13 things about NBA star born in Los Angeles, California

Kawhi Anthony Leonard is an African-American professional basketball player nicknamed The Klaw. He made his National Basketball Association debut in 2011 with the San Antonio Spurs.

The nickname The Klaw came from Leonard’s extraordinarily large hands. He stands 6’7″ and his mitts are 9.75 inches long and 11.25 inches wide.

Leonard moved to the Toronto Raptors in 2018 and to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019. Here are 13 more facts about the NBA player from California, United States:

  1. He was born in Los Angeles, California on June 29, 1991 to Mark Leonard and Kim Robertson. He is the only son among five children. On January 18, 2008, his father was fatally shot in a family owned car wash.
  2. He is the cousin of former National Football League wide receiver Stevie Johnson Jr., who played for the Buffalo Bills, the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers.
  3. He first played basketball for Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California. He then transferred to Martin Luther King High School for his junior and senior years. In his final year for the King High Wolves, he averaged 22.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 3.0 blocks per game en route to being named California Mr. Basketball.
  4. He was just a 4-star recruit in the eyes of Rivals.com, in which 5-star recruits are considered the cream of the crop. The website also had him as the eighth best small forward prospect in the U.S. and number 48 overall.
  5. From 2009 to 2011, he attended San Diego State University in San Diego, California. He was recruited by Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal and Washington all recruited him but none of them offered a full scholarship. Even schools from the WCC and the Big West did not do so. Only San Diego State, USD, Santa Clara, Pepperdine and Long Beach offered a scholarship. In the end, he picked the Aztecs.
  6. He amply rewarded the Aztecs’ faith with a sensational freshman year. He was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year after he averaged 12.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
  7. He was selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. On draft day, the Pacers traded him, Erazem Lorbek and Dāvis Bertāns to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for George Hill.
  8. He made his first All-Star Game only in 2016. He was an NBA Finals MVP in 2014 with the Spurs and won a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015. He added a second Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016 and another NBA Finals MVP in 2019 with the Raptors.
  9. In 2016, his girlfriend Kishele Shipley gave birth to their first child Kaliyah Leonard. Shipley also graduated from San Diego State University.
  10. In 2018, he left Jordan Brand and signed with New Balance. He is currently the face of the latter, which has also signed the Spurs’ Dejounte Murray and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Darius Bazley.
  11. In the 2019 NBA offseason, he orchestrated a LeBronian coup in free agency. The LA Times reported how he did his own recruiting so he could bring along a second star to the Clippers while being recruited heavily by both the Clippers and Lakers. That player turned out to be Paul George.
  12. He hit the biggest shot of his career in the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals, an off-balanced, fall-away buzzer-beater over the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid. That shot fittingly made a list of the decade’s top 5 memorable postseason plays published by Bwin as he hit it in the last seconds of the Raptors’ series-winning game 7 clincher. It was also just the ninth time a series ended at the horn, and it helped propel the Raptors to their first-ever NBA title.
  13. Entering the 2019–2020 Season, he was ranked by Sports Illustrated as the NBA’s second best player, just behind reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and ahead of BET Awards’ Sportsman of the Year LeBron James.

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