Tyson Chandler started playing basketball at the age of three when his grandfather Cleotis Threadgill hung a basket on a tree on their farm in Hanford. It was on that farm that not only Chandler’s passion for basketball came alive, but also where the work ethic, that has led him to a successful NBA career, was first instilled in him.
“My grandfather nailed up, literally, a peach basket to a tree back in the day just to give me and my cousins something to do out there,” Chandler said. “That was kind of my introduction to basketball.”
Chandler, who has played for seven different teams in his 18-year-NBA career, credits his grandfather for teaching him the value of hard work and an honest effort while helping raise him.
”He showed me work ethic. I saw my grandfather, he came from the Arkansas-Texas border, drove his family down for opportunity. He and his sons actually built the house that my grandmother is still in today,” Chandler said. “I saw him every day wake up in the morning, tend to his garden and animals and then go out and work and come back and make sure everything was together. He has been my idol who I looked up to since I could have one. The way I go about my day-to-day life, being a man and the way I tend to my children. It is all patterned after him”
Chandler was raised by his mother, Vernie Threadgill, on the farm until he was nine, when they moved to San Bernardino. The family eventually moved to Compton where Chandler enrolled at he enrolled at Dominguez High School, a school known for its athletics, and became a star.
While he has called Southern California home since then, he still has fond memories of his time in Hanford.
“I got great memories; my family is still out there. I remember spending a ton of time with my grandparents and family. The memories are just incredible,’ Chandler said. “I remember the freedom of riding bikes everywhere, chasing my older cousins. It's just all the family memories I think back too.”
Chandler has done a lot since his time in Hanford. He was won an NBA Championship in 2011 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, he won an Olympic Gold Medal as the starting center for Team USA in the London Olympics in 2012 and has also been an All-Star selection.
While Chandler has been to big cities and has traveled the globe as part of the United States Olympic Team, he said he always embraces his time as a farm boy from Hanford.
“That is my foundation. On that farm is where everything started for me. You have responsibilities that you can’t let down because then you are letting down your family from eating, providing and just everything,” Chandler said. “You have to work to provide for them and I took still have that same work ethic. It is who I am to the core. It’s the same thing on the court. You gotta pay attention to the details, and you got go about it the same way every day.”