More Than A Game: The 2023 NBA Draft


As June approaches, so does the NBA draft. The draft is more than a spectacle for the fans, but is an amalgamation of emotions, hard work, and sacrifice finally paying off for the young men who are drafted every year. The draft is not only their dreams being realized, but an overture of what’s to come. Here are some of the most heartfelt NBA draft stories of hardship and sacrifice that could inspire anyone. 


Lonnie Walker IV was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on December 14th, 1998 to a single parent home, and was raised by his father Lonnie Walker III. Growing up, Walker’s father had to work multiple jobs and even dropped out of college to take care of him. However, he always encouraged his son to read and educate himself. Walker would read every day after school and eventually adopted reading before every single game as his pregame ritual. By the time Walker was in 5th grade, he was around a lot more family. On paper, being around family is usually a good thing, however, this was not the case for Walker. Walker was sexually harassed, raped, and abused during this time, and did not fully recognize what was happening to him.


In a time where Lonnie had very little control over his life, he began to grow out his hair. This hair would become iconic to NBA fans, as he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2018.  In June 2020, Lonnie decided to cut his iconic hair and accompanied it with a tweet on Twitter. He describes growing out his hair by saying, “I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control. My hair was what I can make and create and be mine, And it gave me confidence.” Then describes the process of cutting it off by saying “My hair was a mask of me hiding the insecurities that I felt the world wasn’t ready for. But now better than ever. Out with old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.” The story of Lonnie Walker IV is one that could inspire anyone and is truly fulfilling now that he has achieved his dream of playing in the NBA. 


MarJon Beauchamp was born on October 12th, 2000 in Yakima, Washington. Growing up Beauchamp was homeless, and constantly had to be enrolled in new high schools. Because of this, he struggled to fit into a community and had no semblance of normalcy throughout his childhood. Beauchamp attended 4 different high schools but first gained the attention of coaches and media when he posted 26 points per game at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. However, as MarJon began to finally have his dreams realized, he was forced to move high schools once again. Now entering his senior season he had dealt with every issue under the sun, homelessness, poverty, sickness, and his mother being absent for multiple years of his life. Beauchamp finished out his senior season at Dream City Christian High School in Arizona and grabbed the attention of many division one colleges. He decided to turn down these offers and attend a training program in San Francisco that would prepare him for the upcoming draft, but unfortunately, this would not go to plan.

In the summer of 2020, COVID-19 swept through the world and shut down almost everything for an extended period. The open gyms and training that Beauchamp had planned on attending were now closed, so he went back home. At home he battled depression, anxiety, and developed respiratory issues after contracting COVID. Beauchamp was at the lowest point in his life, just when he had figured out what he was doing in his life it was taken away from him. Through this depression, Beauchamp found a way out through basketball by joining his hometown college’s basketball team temporarily while he waited for COVID to subside. As he describes it “After not playing for a year and a half, getting to play with some friends that I grew up playing with and being coached by people that I grew up with, was just what I needed.” “It’s crazy how it came full circle. And, man, it was an amazing experience, because I found the love for the game again.” 


As the 2022 NBA Draft approached, Beauchamp was invited to play in the NBA’s developmental  G-League. He would gain the attention of scouts and executives and the hype began to build around him, as he lit up the G-League. With the 24th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected MarJon Beauchamp. Emotions overtook Beauchamp, as he cried tears of joy while walking up to the stage. Everything he had gone through had accumulated to this moment, and his lifelong dreams were realized. After nearly quitting basketball for good he had defied the odds, or as he puts it “I’m just happy, God never gave up on me, Everything I had to go through, all the adversity, no one believed in me. This is just special.” 


Regardless of if you’re a sports fan or not, the stories of Lonnie Walker IV and MarJon Beauchamp are undeniably inspiring. The sport of basketball is more than just a game for thousands of men and women, and the draft is a beautiful spectacle of dreams being realized. With the 2023 NBA Draft on the horizon, only more and more amazing stories will be brought to light that inspire every fan of basketball.