Ethe name of Chris Duarte It didn’t take long for him to make himself known in the NBA. In fact, in his first game he already made history with the Pacers by becoming the rookie who has scored the most points in his debut with the Indiana jersey (27 against the Charlotte Hornets) and now he has once again captured the attention of the entire league after his exhibicin ante los Golden State Warriors, whom I knocked down with 27 points (10 of 16 in shots, 2 of 3 in triples), seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and without losing a single ball.
Numbers that are only the reflection of an unbreakable spirit of work and the desire to achieve a dream that seemed impossible when he was just a child in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The town to which Ana Luisa Duarte He came back from Montreal after Chris’s father died when Chris was only six months old. The first stone of a path full of them.
Baseball, his first love
Those were difficult years in which Ana Luisa barely saw her children at dawn. The rest of the day he alternated different jobs to put food on the table for his family. “we were poor but my mother fought all it took to give us what we needed”Duarte remembers today, who signed his first NBA contract with the Pacers for four seasons and 17.7 million dollars.
The current Pacers player did not fall in love with basketball until he was 13 years old. Before, like most of the children who grew up on the streets of the Dominican Republic, Chris preferred the baseball bat and ball. It was the national sport and although he had already demonstrated his quality on the courts of Puerto Plata, the orange ball did not stop calling his attention.
It was on those street courts, playing three against three, where he caught the attention of the Club Deportivo Fantastico, team with which he started playing to basketball in a more organized way and that led him to try out in the lower categories of the Caribbean team. Some tests that changed everything after being discovered by Guillermo ‘Giz’ Beitler, who would eventually become his mentor and in the key figure to convince Ana Luisa so that the young Chris went to try his luck in the United States.
first failed experience
Convinced of Duarte’s talent, Beitler offered him a spot on his show. American International Sports and Education, which brought young foreign athletes to the United States. Chris landed on a youth campus in Florida where he dazzled his coaches with his quality. However, Duarte did not like that first experience away from his home and family and I packed my bags again to return to the Dominican Republic.
Beitler did not give up and traveled to Puerto Plata again to convince the Duarte family and get a second chance for Chris: “He had the talent, but he did not have the means and I think that is where I played a very important role in to return to the United States, helping him day by day to overcome the different obstacles that were in his way”.
I remember myself crying, away from home, without money and not knowing how to speak English. I only knew how to say: ‘I’m hungry’
One barrier stood above the others: language. The Englishman has been the toughest rival in the race of Duarte, who was about to drop out on several occasions because he did not understand his teachers or his coaches at the Redemption Christian Academy in Massachusetts, a school he went to every Sunday after spending weekends in New York with another coach, Dana Dingle.
The English, his most difficult rival
“It was a very hard time. I remember myself crying, far from home, without money and not knowing how to speak English. I only knew how to say: ‘I’m hungry’. It was very hard, but I really wanted to achieve my dream.”, remember now a Duarte who at that time barely had enough to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while riding the bus to rural school in the middle of Massachusetts.
The problems with English did not end there. Duarte attracted the attention of such prestigious universities as Syracuse, but once again the language barrier proved insurmountable and he was the reason for having to attend a Division II university because of his low academic grades.
the chosen one was Northwest Florida State College with which he began to make a name for himself throughout the country thanks to basketball. After two seasons in said center, the University of Oregon He offered him a scholarship to complete his university education in one of the best teams in the country. Duarte did not miss the opportunity and ended his university journey being named Best Player of the PAC 12 and with the Jerry West trophy the best shooting guard in the NCAA under his arm.
With that endorsement and his ability to work, the Pacers did not hesitate to give him the opportunity to select him with number 13 in the last draft. An award for tenacity and hard work that has led him to an NBA that today surrenders to a player capable of silencing Curry and his Warriors.