On the night of June 13, 2019, my mother sent a text to my boyfriend: “Fred is hot tonight!”
My mom recently turned 60, has been married to my dad for 31 years and has never EVER made a comment about another man’s physical appearance. And yes, I realized that she wasn’t speaking about Fred’s body here. But still. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life as I did when I read that message.
Seriously, though, my mom was right. So very right!
A few words that can be associated with Fred VanVleet include grit, steady, battler, remarkable, tenacious, hot streak, 3-pointers, underestimated, performance.
Most of us have watched him progress from a no-name rookie to a seasoned NBA athlete who’s game was essential for his team to win the championship. It’s been an incredible ride.
Michael Grange from Sportsnet called him “the little point guard that could,” and that’s the best description I’ve ever read. The guy legitimately pulled himself up by his bootstraps. There aren’t many who can say they didn’t make the NBA draft but now play for a title-winning team and make $18 million for two years.
VanVleet claims that his stepdad was the one who taught him to be tough. A few years after his biological father was killed in a drug deal (when Fred was only 5 years old), his mom remarried, and Joe Danforth became his stepfather. Joe and Susan made it their mission to keep little Fred out of trouble and Joe’s 5 a.m. drills, ball handling instruction, and other coaching opportunities kept his son on the straight and narrow – straight to Wichita State and the NBA.
Not only is Fred tough, but he’s also not one to give credit where credit isn’t due. Fred Jr. had absolutely nothing to do with that shooting streak! The new daddy even went so far as to say he wished he could go back in time and not tell anyone he’d had a son so that the media wouldn’t attribute his success to the baby’s birth (watch that interview here). As much as we all love our kids, none of us would probably want work and sweat for endless hours and then have our brilliant success attributed to someone who wasn’t even there. You tell ‘em, Fred.
Now, with the Raptors at training camp in beautiful Quebec City, Fred is once again fighting hard. Just as he went up against several other point guards in the 2016 camp to win a spot on the team, now he’s fighting to be a starter. If he takes his own advice, to get “[z]ero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose,” there’s a good chance he’ll make it.
Mom, Fred is gonna be HOT this season!