James Harden’s journey from an asthmatic child who grew up in a mobile home in Compton, a notorious area of LA, before rising to stardom the NBA’s MVP has captured the imagination of fans.
The 29-year-old who is yet to shave in Seven years defied his modest upbringing on the west coast to become one of basketball biggest stars and valued at close to $500million.
His mother, Monja Willis had suffered two miscarriages before she gave birth to Harden on August 29, 1989. Expectations were low for the new arrival. After all, each breath was a miracle. His father dipped in and out of jail and played little to no role in Harden’s formative years.
Harden soon became a nationwide talking point and with the 2009 NBA draft on the horizon, teams were busy jockeying to secure his signature. It quickly became apparent that of all the top young players up for draft selection, Harden was one many really wanted.
Arriving at OKC, Harden was rightly considered one of the best all-round prospects to emerge from college basketball in his generation. He became the team’s ‘sixth man’ – a player who does not start games but makes an impact from the bench.
His game-time was a slice of what he enjoys now at Houston rockets, but when chances came Harden left an impression. He recorded the fourth-highest three-point percentage in NBA history (.375) for a player under the age of 21 during the 2009–10 season.
They didn’t value him like Westbrook or Durant and that bothered him deeply. He needed to step out from the shadow, show his personality and go on to establish himself as not another sixth man, but a main man.
In April 2019, he become the first NBA player in history to score 30 points or more against every team in a single season.