BUCKS BEAT: Draft prospect beats incredible odds

2013-06-16T00:03:00Z BUCKS BEAT: Draft prospect beats incredible oddsGERY WOELFEL gwoelfel@journaltimes.com Journal Times

Dwayne Davis hasn’t fashioned the gaudy resume like so many of his colleagues in the 2013 NBA draft class.

But it’s highly unlikely any of them have accomplished as much as Davis.

Davis, who played collegiately at four schools, including Southern Mississippi last season, has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to be even considered a draft prospect.

A product of a rough area in Philadelphia, Davis’ life became even more challenging when he was a mere 13 years old.

That’s when Davis’ mother, Lawanda Smallwood, died, succumbing to Lupus arthritis — a systemic autoimmune disorder.

Davis’ world would never be the same.

“When my mother died, I just crashed; I was devastated,” said Davis, who worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday. “With my dad never around, I didn’t know what was going to happen.

“When you’re growing up and lose the only person you have as a mother and father, someone who you love ... I was angry. I was very, very, very, very angry. I was so frustrated and I didn’t know at that time how to talk to anybody. I didn’t have anyone to vent to, so I kept everything bottled in.

“But I knew I had to grow up.”

And Davis did. Showing maturity beyond his years, Davis decided that he, and nobody else, would raise his two younger siblings: Tysheea and Andre.

Davis took it upon himself to see they continued to attend school every day and, even though he didn’t have a driver’s license, drove them to school in his mother’s van.

Davis also hunted for a part-time job and landed one at a local Kay Bee Toys store in an attempt to feed his siblings.

“The checks weren’t that big,” Davis said. “As I remember, I think it was about $90 every two weeks. It wasn’t much, but it kept us eating.”

Sleeping was another matter. Davis said following his mother’s passing he and his little brother and sister slept in his mother’s van for nearly two months — or until they moved in with his aunt, Edwina Kinley. She was given custody of the children by state of Pennsylvania officials.

Davis said he did all of those things for his family because he didn’t want to impose any hardships on anyone else.

“I did it because I didn’t feel the need to ask anyone for anything,” Davis said. “I already knew the situation my family and friends were in. We weren’t wealthy to become with.

“For me to ask somebody, or look for a handout, that wasn’t me. I would rather do it and do it as best as I could.”

While Davis and his siblings found a much more stable environment with his aunt, the pain of being without his mother never really subsided.

His anger-management issues even spilled over into the one area where he often found solace and peace: basketball.

One of the premier prep players in the Philadelphia area, Davis came close to damaging his future in the sport during a game while playing for Strawberry Mansion High School.

“My attitude had changed for the worse,” Davis said. “Everything was starting to go downhill. Mentally, I just wasn’t there.

“I remember in high school — I don’t want to really bring this up — but I chased after a referee and it was because of what was going on in my life outside of basketball.”

Fortunately for Davis, basketball was his ticket out of a troubling situation. He drew scholarship offers from a spate of colleges on the East Coast, including La Salle, Temple and St. Bonaventure.

But Davis realized he needed a change of scenery and signed a national letter of intent with Morehead State in Morehead, Ky. He lasted less than a year at Morehead, though, before transferring first to Redlands (Okla.) Community College and then to Midland (Texas) College.

Two years ago, Davis packed his bags yet again for Southern Mississippi where, after sitting out the first season because of academic ineligibility, he enjoyed a productive senior season.

The 23-year-old Davis averaged 16 points and 4.5 rebounds a game while being chosen to the all-Conference USA first team.

His banner season earned him a spot in the Portsmouth Invitational at Portsmouth, Va., where he was afforded the chance to showcase his talents.

Davis seized the moment, demonstrating his shooting and defensive skills. He was chosen to the all-PIT first team.

And that, in turn, has secured him pre-draft tryouts with several NBA teams. Prior to the Bucks, the chiseled 6-foot-5 Davis worked out for Phoenix and Chicago. He has upcoming visits with Golden State and Dallas.

Slowly but surely, Davis has been raising eyebrows of pro personnel. During the Bucks’ workout, Davis staged a shooting clinic. In a drill where he was asked to take five shots from five different spots beyond the arc, Davis made an amazing 18.

What’s more, he held his own against two much more highly-touted prospects: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia and Ricky Ledo of Providence. Caldwell-Pope is virtually a cinch to be a lottery selection and Ledo is a virtual lock to be a first-round choice. Conversely, Davis is projected as a late second-round prospect.

Asked if he has any doubts he can play at basketball’s highest level, Davis confidently said, “Not at all. If they (the Bucks) would have brought in the top lottery guys, I would have shown them that I can compete with them also.”

While Davis yearns and prays — he’s Islamic and prays daily — for an opportunity to play in the NBA, he has established some other goals. And the biggest one is providing assistance to those who find themselves in the same extremely trying situation that he was once in.

“I hope to be a foster parent some day,” said Davis, who recently graduated with a degree in Family Practice. “I definitely want to do that. Coming from my community and my high school, which was just rated one of top 10 most dangerous high schools in America, and coming from my neighborhood, which was rated one of the top five most dangerous areas in America by CNN, I want to do something for them.

“My plans are to build a non-profit organization with an after-school program as a way to help those children out. I want to donate as much time and money as I possibly can to help them. That’s my mind-set. I think that’s what I’ll be doing the rest of my life, helping kids just like me.”

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. petersingh14
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    petersingh14 - June 16, 2013 10:30 am
    As someone who doesnt come from a great neighbourhood and broken fam this is an awesome story. Good luck Dwyane, you're gonna kill it!
  2. Prejects
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    Prejects - June 16, 2013 10:04 am
    Thank you for sharing this story. People like Dwayne Davis are positioned to make the greatest difference in communities ravaged by family disintegration. This is a growing problem in every corner of the country, with an estimated 100 million people affected to differing degrees by family dysfunction. I look forward to seeing Mr. Davis' impact on family practice in the country as a professional athlete.
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