Kawhi Leonard
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Kawhi Leonard is an American basketballer who began his professional career after he was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He, however, had no chance to play for the team as he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs on the night of the same day he was drafted. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year still plays for the San Antonio Spurs as a junior forward.

Kawhi Leonard Bio

Kawhi Anthony Leonard, known professionally as Kawhi Leonard, was born on June 29, 1991, to Mark Leonard (father) and Kim Leonard (mother). He started his high school education at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California but did not stay long there before moving to Martin Luther King High School where he finally graduated from.

While in his second school, he played for the King High Wolves and led the team to a 30–3 record in his senior year alongside his teammate, Tony Snell. At the end of his time in the team, Kawhi had made an average of 22.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.0 blocks in each game that year. He also won California Mr. Basketball, was rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and positioned as the nation’s 8th small forward and 48th player in 2009.

Continuing, he secured a spot at the San Diego State University in 2009/10 session, playing for the Aztecs and recording an average of 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game during his first year. His outstanding performance in the season earned his team a 25–9 record in addition to the Mountain West Conference (MWC) tournament title. He also earned the MWC freshman of the year, first team All-MWC, and the 2010 MWC Tournament MVP.

In his sophomore season, Kawhi Leonard played at the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 but lost to the champions. He recorded an average of 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds during this season and was named to the Second Team All-America the NCAA tournament.

Following his entry into the 2011 NBA draft, the young chap forwent his final two seasons with the Aztecs.

His Career Stats and Injury Update

Following the NBA draft, Leonard sealed a multi-year deal with San Antonio Spurs on  December 10, 2011. He lost his opportunity to showcase his talent at the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge as a result of a calf strain. The small forward was soon promoted to the starting small forward position following the exit of Richard Jefferson. By the end of the 2011-2012 season, Kawhi Leonard took the fourth position of Rookie of the Year voting and was consequently, named to the 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team. Having been observed to be someone with an unquestionable dedication to his career, Kawhi was not left out when it was time to choose NBA up-and-comers who would play for the 2012 USA men’s basketball Select Team in the summer of 2012.

During the 2012-2013 season, the Spurs re-signed Leonard through the next season and in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, the young star recorded 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds.

In the game played on April 6, 2014, against the Memphis Grizzlies, Leonard contributed to his team’s victory with his season-high 26 points. He led his team to become the number one seed in the NBA and for the first time in his professional career, earned the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. In another round of the NBA Finals,  Leonard made an average of 17.8 points on 61% shooting, becoming the third-youngest player to win the NBA Finals MVP, behind only Magic Johnson (a two-time winner).

Leonard missed the final six preseason games and the season opener in the 2014–15 season as a result of an infection in his right eye caused by conjunctivitis. He began playing again on October 31 and even though his sight was still not in a perfect condition, he still scored season-high points. However, he was ruled out indefinitely on December 22 after he had an injection in his injured right hand, missing 15 games. On his return in January, his performance was taken a notch higher and he was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The passionate player was again, signed to the Spurs to a five-year contract worth $90 million during the 2015-16 season. All through the season, he continued his strong performance, scoring career-high points on several occasions. On January 21, 2016, Kawhi earned his first All-Star selection as he was named a starter to the Western Conference team for the 2016 All-Star Game. This made him the sixth Spurs player to be picked as an All-Star starter.

This season also had him lead his team to set a franchise record with their 64th victory, a 102–95 win over the Toronto Raptors (a feat made possible with Kawhi’s 33 points). With his help, the Spurs came second in the Western Conference with a record of 67–15. Consequently, he won the Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second time in two consecutive years and also emerged as a runner-up in the MVP voting.

In the following season, Kawhi Leonard remained on top of his game, setting new career high points in almost every game. He recorded three consecutive 30-point games, becoming the third team member to do so since Tony Parker in 2012. He also earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors and for the fourth time, was named Player of the Week. 

During game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Kawhi Leonard could not play with the Spurs as a result of an ankle injury. He further aggravated the injury when he landed on Zaza Pachulia’s foot after trying to score a field goal in the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Unable to continue, he left the game but before then, he had already scored 26 points.

At the end of the season, Kawhi Leonard had recorded an average of 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the regular season, and 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals for the playoffs.

Leonard made his 2017-18 season debut on December 12, 2017, after missing 27 games of the season due to a right quadriceps injury. Having returned with the same winning spirit which he is known to always possess, Leonard scored a season-high 21 and 25 points which led to the team’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks respectively. On January 5, 2018, he had a partial tear in his left shoulder which kept him away from playing until January 13. Four days later, he was ruled out indefinitely from playing in order for him to recover fully from the injury he sustained on his right quadriceps (quadriceps tendinopathy). Although the Spurs medical staff subsequently declared him fit to play, he never played with the team again in 2018.

on July 18, Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors where he hopes to get back to his impressive form and continue doing exploits in the league.

Salary

Kawhi Leonard’s salary for 2018 with the Toronto Raptors is $23,114,067 million. At this salary, he is obviously making more money (22.5% more) than he was previously earning. The basketballer was reportedly the 36th best-paid player in the NBA in 2018, 17th best paid forward and the second best paid Toronto Raptors baller all in 2018. Perhaps, if he improves the more, we might see his pay cheque get fatter.

Kawhi’s Uncle

Kawhi Leonard’s father, Mark, was shot dead on 18th January 2008, at his car wash in Compton, Los Angeles. Following the absence of his father, Kawhi’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, stepped in to fill the void and help his sister and her family. He has been a staple in their lives ever since.

The media refers to Dennis Robertson as a major influence in Kawhi’s professional life. He has acted as Kawhi’s agent for the last couple of years and has always been there to help Kawhi blossom into the player he is today.

Before Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, it was alleged that there was growing tension between Leonard’s camp and the Spurs rising from a disagreement over his injury rehabilitation process. The disagreement eventually led to the trade and several NBA agents accused Kawhi’s uncle Robertson as being the one who intentionally distorted his (Kawhi Leonard) rapport with the San Antonio Spurs in order to set up a new marketing company which would have his nephew as the face of the brand.

According to his LinkedIn page, Dennis Robertson is the president of the elite athlete division at Protocol International, in the New York City-area. The player’s uncle describes himself on the page as an award-winning Banking Executive with over 30 years of experience in corporate branding, training and development, campaign marketing and promotion, and staff recruiting.

During his days in the finance sector, uncle Robertson worked for American Express, Carver Federal Savings, and JP Morgan Chase.

Relationship – Girlfriend, Wife

The basketball player is romantically involved with Kishele Shipley, a Public Administration graduate of San Diego State University who concluded her studies at the institution in 2012. Afterward, she got a job as a human resource professional in San Diego.

Kawhi and his girlfriend, Kishele Shipley: image source

According to reports, Kishele, born on April 10, 1989, is about two years older than her basketballer boyfriend but age is just a number right? The couple was said to have met while Kawhi still lived in San Diego but after he joined the Spurs and relocated to Texas in December 2014, Kishele moved with him, signaling a total commitment to their relationship.

See Also: 5 Best African Basketball Stars In NBA of All Time

In 2016, Kishele moved from being just a girlfriend to being a baby mama having welcomed a baby girl named Kaliyah in July 2016, with the basketball player.

Although it is common knowledge that the couple has been living together since 2014 and are very much into each other, their relationship status is still not clearly defined to the public as there is no tangible evidence of their engagement or marriage. As a result, Kishele is simply described as the basketballer’s partner in some quarters but to many people, she is his wife.

She is the daughter of Cathy Marie Shipley and Kenneth Shipley and has two sisters – Kasandra and Kenisha.

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