Kyle Korver: Leaving a Legacy On & Off The Court
Kyle Korver played for the Creighton Blue Jays and was drafted 51st overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. He was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on draft day and began his NBA career. In 2007, he was traded to the Utah Jazz. During the 2009-10 NBA Season, Kyle set a record for the highest single season three-point percentage (53.6%), which still stands to this day. In 2010, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bulls, and in 2012, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks.
We had the pleasure of getting to meet with Kyle Korver, and we quickly discovered through our conversation that Kyle’s passion for basketball is closely paired with his desire to make a difference in the lives of others. In every city that he has played in, Kyle began working with local charities and maintains those relationships and support even after he has moved to another city. He originally started the Kyle Korver Foundation on the streets of Philadelphia to help city kids in an individualistic approach. Utilizing another one of his talents (design), he started Seer Outfitters, which produces clothing that 100% of the profits go to benefit organizations and causes around the country. Kyle’s actions speak louder than any words, as he is making a notable difference with the choices he has made and using his influence as an NBA athlete to encourage others to do the same.
It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you to how despite enjoying the life of an NBA player, Kyle Korver has overcome struggles like us, made a conscious choice to help others, and hopes that we all pay it forward with our lives too.
Jon Lechliter: Who or What Inspires You?
Kyle Korver: There’s a lot. The reason we are trying to do what we’re doing is trying to live out our faith. But people say if you love God, you’re going to win, get money and power, and get whatever you want, which is not what it’s all about. There’s that side of it.
I grew up in a family that was a part of community. My Dad and Grandfather were pastors. We grew up in churches that were involved in the community. Dad started Looking Good in Paramount, CA that picked up trash and painted houses every Saturday for a few years. Something about painting walls and transforming the old into new made pride in the community, as we watched a city transform through time and effort. Going back to faith, you don’t want it to just be words, but you want it to be action too.
It is us trying to do that. Meeting awesome people in every city I’ve played in and becoming friends. You become who you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with people trying to do something in the world, hopefully that rubs off on you.
A goal in life was to be a good person and make the NBA. I got there and wasn’t happy. I was chasing the carrot and had success/failures, but rookie year, I woke up one day and thought there is more to life than this.
That’s the fun thing about the Kyle Korver Foundation – there are so many projects. We are trying to partner with people, see what they do and how we can help. Spreading awareness through T-shirts and have fun doing it.
JL: What is a remarkable story where you impacted someone?
KK: We have a budget for the foundation for Utah ramps. We’re hauling 1,000lbs of ramp materials, and our guy’s old truck was breaking down. So, we had to go to dealership, and it’s way too expensive. The sales associate said he’d talk to the manager to see what they can do. Fifteen minutes later, a grandfather walks out with tears streaming down face and says, “You’re Brad Mepham. Last year, you built a ramp for my grandson.” They gave it to us as cheap as they could and made it work.
Honestly, my hesitation to do an interview is that we don’t want to pump ourselves up. We want to do something where people pay it forward (like the story just mentioned). Pass it on like a domino effect.
JL: What are the characteristics of a true role model as an athlete?
KK: Role models have character. I was told a great quote by Abraham Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” A bunch of them (role models) are out there, which you are highlighting.
Also, it’s easy to be blessed, but why are you blessed over someone else? We are blessed to be a blessing; make it come full circle.
How you play doesn’t make you a role model, it is character.
JL: What are your struggles?
KK: Sports are a mental roller coaster. There are many ups and downs in an 82 game season. You’ll get criticism, praise, etc. Everything is so extreme with no middle road.
Confidence is a constant struggle. There is a lot going on out there (with Social Media) and everyone has an enormous voice. You try to hear it and block it, but you also should have a voice.
I deal with confidence issues through my faith and my wife. I had a daughter recently, and life got smaller and bigger at the same time. Coming home to a family, my wife is incredible in who she is and her perspective in life. Ultimately though, your faith comes into play with your struggles. No matter what, it’s going to be ok.
JL: What’s her perspective in life that encourages you?
KK: She has an amazing story in life of music and touring. She performed worldwide when we met, so we had the same mindset of what’s really important in life. Music and basketball doesn’t last your entire life. Surely, we were born for more than just this. How does that thing you’re doing affect who you are, and what you do for the rest of your life? Looking at that, all the struggles and confidence issues are refinement of who you are and who you are to become by building character. You are able to walk through all those fires.
JL: How do you find that balance between everything?
KK: Balance is still being figured out. Basketball gets priority, even though it’s not the most important thing. My wife, child, and faith get priority.
With a baby in the mix, your own stuff gets cut up – no more golf, but now I get to be with my daughter, which is WAY better! They way I grew up, my Dad worked over 100 hours a week and never missed anyone’s games, but he never had a hobby. That’s my example. Don’t know if that’s balanced, but he found his joy while doing that.
JL: What’s the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
KK: I had a really bad stutter growing up. It was really tough, especially with interviews, as it became very embarrassing. I’m also learning to deal with a lot of pressure. I didn’t know how to handle it very well at first in the NBA. Eventually, I found better people to surround myself with that helped.
JL: What advice would you give to young men?
KK: Don’t make a plan. You should spend your twenties trying to see it all and find out what you’re passionate about. Find what you love to do in life. If you do what you love, you get good at it and make a little money. Then, hopefully everything else falls into place. Be happy in life, and you don’t get to do that unless you try things.
JL: How does it feel to be an Atlanta Hawk?
KK: I like being an Atlanta Hawk. It’s my first warm winter in 20 years. I feel guilty that life isn’t harder than it is. We have a good team of fun guys. I like the guys (on the team), the city, and have met a lot of good people. A lot of the guys (on the team) are doing good things.
JL: What is the life of being an NBA player?
KK: No weeks/weekends. The week starts Nov. 1 and it doesn’t stop until playoffs end. I don’t get up early, but I don’t go to bed at 11. After a game, you don’t go to bed until 3AM due to Red Bull and being hyped up.
JL: What do you want to do after basketball?
KK: I don’t know. Don’t have it (yet). We love the message of Seer Outfitters, and if it just covers the bills – that’s enough. Connecting with great people is great. It’s a fun hobby.
F R O M T H E E D I T O R
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