In The Beginning
JaVale McGee was born January 19, 1988 in Flint, Michigan. Flint is a basketball town and this baby was a born to play. At 23 inches long, 11 pounds and 11 ounces, JaVale was one of the biggest babies in the hospital. Nurses from every floor rushed to see this big basketball baby from a basketball family.
His mother, Pamela McGee, was an All-American basketball player at USC and an Olympic Gold Medalist in women’s basketball. JaVale grew up watching his mother play professional basketball both overseas and in the WNBA. After Pam’s playing career was over, she went on to coach in the WNBA. She coached her team to a world championship while raising JaVale as a single mother. JaVale’s father, George Montgomery, played his college ball at the University of Illinois and was a second round pick for the Portland Trail Blazers.
JaVale spent most of his teenage years in Michigan and attended Detroit County Day, considered a basketball mecca, where other future NBA stars, like Chris Webber and Shawn Battier, were also students. JaVale moved to Chicago in his senior year and graduated with honors from Hales Franciscan High School, earning a 4.5 GPA.
JaVale McGee started off his college experience n the fall of 2006, he attended the University of Nevada, in the city of Reno. Thanks to the amazing talent that was by no doubt part of the inheritance that comes with being a McGee by his sophomore year, he became the starting center of the team. His average was 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and was named to the WAC All-Defensive Team, reaching an average of 2.79 blocks per game. Just like a McGee, setting records would be part of his lineage. That season he set a new school record with an amazing 92 blocks, showing great promise at such an early stage. After an amazing performance at the start of his college basketball career at the University of Nevada, it would be no surprise that JaVale would be looking to move forward and having thoughts about getting ready to enter the big leagues. He soon decided to take part in the NBA draft. Without a doubt he would become an ideal candidate for any team looking to get their hands on some fresh young talent.
Welcome to the NBA
In the 2008 NBA draft, JaVale was selected 18th overall by the Washington Wizards. In his second season, JaVale finished number two in the NBA in total blocked shots with 193 and he averaged 2.4 blocks per game.
That same year, JaVale had a career game against the Golden State Warriors, scoring 28 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in only 30 minutes of play.
On January 6, 2011, JaVale was chosen to participate in that year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest. JaVale was the first Wizard to ever participate in the competition and finished in second place, losing to Blake Griffin. He was also the first NBA player to use three balls at one time in a dunk contest, which was later cited by the Guinness World Records as the most basketballs dunked in a single jump.
In the spring of 2012, JaVale was traded to the Denver Nuggets. It was in game five of the Western Conference playoffs that the basketball world truly took note of JaVale’s multi-faceted game. He exhibited so much agility, and “guard-like” skills as the new face of the NBA’s mobile big man. JaVale scored 21 points with 14 rebounds in a 102-99 win over the Lakers. After his performance, it became clear why some basketball guru’s called him a “Basketball Frankenstein.”
During the summer of 2012, JaVale wanted to elevate his game to an even higher level and traveled to Houston to train with NBA legend, Hakeem Olajuwon. The Hall-of-Famer said of JaVale: “No question, I see him as another star. He has tremendous talent.”
JaVale continues to be a defensive threat for the Nuggets. Currently, he averages 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in about 19 minutes of play per game. He’s a fan favorite who always seems to amaze crowds with his athletic prowess and astonishing dunks.
JaVale McGee the Philanthropist
Despite his busy schedule, JaVale loves to give back to those less fortunate. He’s especially focused on inner city youth and sponsors boys and girl’s basketball programs across the country.
The JaVale McGee’s Children’s Portfolio Fund (JMCPF) sponsors the “Do the Right Thing” all-star basketball program. This program gives young people an opportunity to travel extensively and compete in tournaments across the country. Teams not only play basketball, but tour museums, courts, colleges and other culturally enriching landmarks. And though basketball fundamentals are stressed, student-athletes must maintain a high GPA to participate in the program. JaVale says his goal is to develop and help 100 teams across the country and give young men what basketball has given him.
Earlier this year, the hard work and dedication paid off when JaVale’s AAU team made up of 10 and 11 year-olds from his hometown of Flint, Michigan, won the national championship.
In 2011, JMCPF launched the annual JaVale McGee turkey give away in San Bernardino, California. Thanks to JaVale’s philanthropic efforts, every year, the Boys and Girl’s Club of San Bernardino is able to feed over 1000 families and dozens of disabled veterans during the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, JaVale expanded his turkey drive to include Denver and Flint, Michigan and fed more than 6,000 people.