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Steph Curry, Overlooked by Scouts but Now a Three-Point Warrior

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

Legends are made not only by their deeds, but the stories behind them. We’re sharing the stories of today’s sports legends, who defied all odds to wow the world — not unlike the heroes and villains of DC's Legends of Tomorrow. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Series Premiere Thursday Jan. 21 at 8/7c on The CW. Check out the trailer here.

It's known as the Summer of Tears in Curry family lore — the arduous weeks of shooting practice a young Steph Curry endured after his sophomore year in high school to improve his basketball mechanics. Jumper after jumper, free throw after free throw: It was hard work that often resulted in wet eyes. His father Dell Curry, a former NBA sharpshooter who played 16 years in the league, drilled his son on the backyard basketball court at their North Carolina home.

Father knows best. That basketball intensive has had paid major dividends. Steph Curry's trademark quick release and extended follow-through has become one of the NBA's surest bets and deadliest threats. Last season, the 27-year-old baller knocked down a record 273 three-pointers, picked up league MVP honors, and led the Golden State Warriors to their first NBA title in 40 years. This season, Chef Curry's hot hand hasn't cooled — Curry averages more than 30 points per game and his Warriors teammates jumped to a record-breaking 24-0 start.

In the early days, few would have predicted that Curry — a puny 5'8" and 150 pounds in high school — would blossom into one of pro basketball's most lethal shooters and biggest stars. (He's listed now at 6'3" and 185 pounds.) Though he often lit up game stat sheets at Charlotte Christian School in the suburbs of North Carolina, most college scouts overlooked him largely due to his slight build and small frame. Even Virginia Tech, his father's alma mater, failed to offer Steph a scholarship. He wound up attending Davidson College, a small liberal arts college that hadn't made a NCAA tourney appearance in nearly four decades, as an unheralded recruit.

He soon obliterated expectations, forcing the nation to notice him even as he toiled on the fringes of big-time college hoops. Only future NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, who played at the University of Texas, outscored him his freshman year in 2007. In Curry's sophomore season, he scored a record number of three-pointers and led Davidson to the Elite Eight. By the end of his junior year, Curry entered the NBA draft and the Golden State Warriors selected him with the seventh pick. Still, he wasn't tipped to become more than a three-point specialist, a role player at best.

A scouting report featured in a commercial for Coach Up explores how so-called basketball experts rated him. In the voiceover, Curry reads his perceived limitations outlined in the report: "Stephen's explosiveness and athleticism are below standard." "Do not rely on him to run your team."

He proved doubters wrong, coming in second in the rookie of the year race. The next season, he won the skills contest during All-Star weekend. Then multiple injuries threatened to derail his momentum, forcing him to miss many games due to surgery and branding him around the league as an injury-prone lightweight. Once again, Curry rebounded, reemerging stronger than before and by the 2014-15 season he became the fastest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 3-pointers.

Currently, his swashbuckling style looks effortless as he dribbles around pressure, fights through screens and swishes long-range bombs. Only his opponents are weeping now.

Illustrations by Joshua Ariza.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.


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