Home sweet home
Fans adore Warriors’ Curry in North Carolina city that shaped him
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It didn’t take long for Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser to understand the depths of Stephen Curry’s Charlotte roots.
In November 2014, four months after he joined Golden State’s staff, Fraser was working Curry through his pregame shooting routine at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center when a larger-than-normal crowd gathered around the court. During a pause between drills, Curry saw his childhood dentist and exclaimed, “Hey, Dr. Johnson!”
“I could feel the closeness Steph has to that community just through that warmup,”
“No matter where I go, having been out in the bay for 10 years, (Charlotte is) still pretty close to my heart.” Stephen Curry
Fraser said. “He was engaged with them as much as he could be. They were proud of him, and he was equally as proud to be associated with that city.”
The Charlotte Hornets are the official hosts of All-Star Weekend, but Curry might as well be the city’s unofficial ambassador. Over the past 10 years, as Curry blossomed into a global icon with the Warriors, he made a point not to forget the friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers and coaches in Charlotte who helped him reach the NBA.
In addition to competing against his younger brother, Seth, in Saturday’s 3-point contest and starting Sunday’s All-Star Game, Curry intends to celebrate the relationships that made all of this possible. His itinerary includes a stop at his high school, Charlotte Christian; the unveiling of a refurbished community center; a game at his alma mater, Davidson College, and a ceremony hon-
oring his father Dell’s contributions to the city.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to showcase the city and highlight what it meant to me and my family,” said Curry, who has arranged tickets for close to 100 family members and friends in Section 121 of Spectrum Center on Sunday. “I’m just going to embrace the weekend, embrace the fun.”
Curry was 3 months old when his father, who had split his first two NBA seasons between Utah and Cleveland, was selected by the Hornets in an expansion draft. Some of Curry’s earliest memories are of Hornets equipment manager David “Big Shot” Jovanovic babysitting him in the locker room while his dad took his postgame shower.
During elementary and middle school, Curry watched the clock eagerly on days Charlotte had home games because of what awaited after that final bell rang: rides to Charlotte Coliseum with Dell. Before the crowds arrived and players began their warm-up routines, Stephen and Seth played games of H-O-R-S-E, heaving shots as their dad rebounded.
When the Curry brothers tagged along with their mother, Sonya Curry, to a salon or grocery story, they were often greeted by a friendly stranger saying, “Hey, you’re Dell’s kids!” Sonya and Dell went to great lengths to ensure that their three children — Stephen, Seth and daughter Sydel — stayed grounded.
The family was active at Central Church of God, a Pentecostal mega-church currently boasting more than 6,000 members. It was at one of the church’s youth groups that Stephen met his eventual wife, Ayesha.
All three Curry kids attended elementary and middle school at the Montessori school founded and run by Sonya before enrolling at Charlotte Christian. A selfdescribed “homebody,” Stephen chose Davidson — the small liberal-arts college just 20 miles north of Charlotte — over a walk-on offer from his parents’ alma mater, Virginia Tech.
“Charlotte definitely has a lot of Southern charm,” said Michelle Bain-Brink, a close family friend of the Currys. “The headquarters of major banks are there, but you get this small-town, super Southern hospitable vibe. It’s a slower pace, for sure, which I think suits Steph really well.”
For a basketball-obsessed city, Charlotte has enjoyed minimal success on the hardwood.
Neither the Hornets (1988-2002, 2014-present) nor Bobcats (2004-14) have reached the conference finals. As the local NBA team spent much of the past decade toiling in mediocrity under Michael Jordan’s ownership, many Charlotteans took to cheering Curry.
His No. 30 jersey often outnumbers Kemba Walker’s No. 15 at Golden State’s annual game in Charlotte. Even with Curry open about his plans to play his entire career with Golden State, some Hornets die-hards still hold out hope that he’ll someday don the teal and purple.
Regardless, the Currys will continue to consider Charlotte home. Dell — a color analyst for Hornets telecasts — and Sonya still live there. Last spring, Stephen tried to help put together a group to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. A stop in Charlotte is part of his annual summer schedule.
“Just a lot of great memories,” Curry said. “No matter where I go, having been out in the bay for 10 years, it’s still pretty close to my heart, for sure.”
“I’m going to do whatever I can to showcase the city and highlight what it meant to me and my family.” Stephen Curry, who will have close to 100 family members and friends at Sunday’s All-Star Game
Stephen Curry “pounds the drum” before an NFL game in Charlotte, N.C. He tried to buy part of the Panthers a year ago.
Above: Former Davidson College All-American Stephen Curry poses with members of the Davidson men’s basketball team. Left: Curry greets students after a halftime ceremony at his former high school, Charlotte Christian.