As far as the NBA goes, Dirk Nowitzki’s career is certainly one of the most thrilling stories there is. However, some may not know, but the empathic NBA title run with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 wasn’t the only battle “German Jesus” had won in his life. Even before he set foot in the U.S. to pursue his NBA dream, Nowitzki had already endured a tough obstacle.
Born for the game
Like some of the greatest players of all time, Dirk, too, knew from the get-go that he “never wanted anything else” but to be a basketball player.
“Sports was my life. Both my parents were athletes. I basically grew up in the gym running after loose balls as soon as I was able to walk,” Nowitzki told Sporting News in 2019.
Having been raised by former athlete parents, Dirk had the support he needed growing up. However, his parents also wanted him to finish school, which was easier said than done.
“When you’re a teenager, everything in life is cooler than school, especially sports,” he admitted.
Dirk had no choice
After years of doing his best to do well in school while honing his game, Nowitzki was beginning to feel the pressure. He admitted that “it kept being a struggle for me,” and just like any other kid, the young Dirk thought about quitting.
“I thought about dropping out after 10th grade…After seeing my grades during 11th grade, they [my parents] got quite scared and pushed me a bit more,” Nowitzki confessed.
In the end, Nowitzki’s love for basketball prevailed. Despite struggling to manage his time in school and practice, he found a way to cope with it. Left with no choice, Dirk was prompted to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany’s junior national team. Though the entire process was a bit taxing, Nowitzki managed to pull it off.
“I had to get private tutoring as well. Once I was traveling with the junior national team, I had to bring a tutor with me,” he revealed. “We were there to work on our conditioning and between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room.”
In retrospect, it’s safe to say that Nowitzki’s sacrifices and hard work growing up paid off. In 1998, Nowitzki arrived in the U.S. and was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was immediately shipped to the Mavs. And the rest, as they say, is history.