Kyle Kuzma is one of a few unexpected rising stars in the NBA. Since he joined basketball’s premier league, his profile has risen. He has gone from an unknown to being a prominent part of one of the league’s best teams. His name gets screamed by fans, and there are social media accounts dedicated to him.
This rise in popularity has not only increased the pressure on him to deliver on the court. It has also sparked interest in his off-field life, from his ethnicity to his family. As fellow admirers of the Lakers star, we went in search of answers to these questions, and here is what we found.
Kyle Kuzma’s Ethnic History and Background
Kyle Kuzma was born on the 24th of July 1995 and given the full name Kyle Alexander Kuzma. He has made the news for a variety of reasons, mostly for his performances since he joined the NBA. But his name has also raised eyebrows among observers.
As Kuzma, the Los Angeles Lakers power forward does not have a traditional Caucasian name, prompting questions about his ethnicity. From a cursory look at him, one thing is apparent – He is biracial. An in-depth look further reveals that his biological father is African-American.
The Caucasian side of him comes from his mother, whose ancestry is traceable to European countries, Germany, England, and Ukraine. The exact ethnic history of his paternal side, like his father, remains elusive.
A Toy Basketball Rim Sparked Kyle’s Basketball Journey
Kyle had his love for basketball ignited when he was young. His parents bought a toy basketball rim for him when he was a toddler. This seemingly innocent act of love sparked a lifelong interest in basketball for the young power forward.
Basketball became his haven from the rough streets of Flint, and it would be a huge part of his formative years. Kyle went to school at Swartz Creek Community School from where he moved to Bentley High School. In high school, he managed to average 17.9 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.4 blocks per game while he was still a junior.
As a student at Bentley, Kyle Kuzma sent shooting tapes to preparatory schools. The head coach of Rise Academy, Vin Sparacio, liked what he saw and brought the young player in. While Kyle was a high school student at Rise Academy, he raised his average to 22 points and seven rebounds for each game. He then got offers to play with Division I schools which included Tennessee, Iowa State, and Connecticut. He finally picked the University of Utah to attend.
Kyle was averaging 10.8 points per game. As a junior, he brought his average up to 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He earned his first-team All-Pac-12 honors. At the close of the season, Kyle Kuzma made up his mind to get into the 2017 NBA draft.
Kyle Kuzma’s Budding Career in the NBA
Kyle was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft for the Brooklyn Nets. He was traded on draft day to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for D’Angelo Russel who went to the Brooklyn Nets from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kyle Kuzma got named to the All-Summer League Second Team after averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. He was also the Summer League Championship Game MVP after he managed to record a double-double of 30 points in his team’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers in their championship match.
Kyle has also got himself named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month at that time and is now recognized as the first NBA rookie to have compiled in his first 20 games; 330 points, 120 rebounds, and 30 made three-pointers. After his rookie season, on the 22nd of May 2018, Kyle Kuzma was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
In the 2018/19 season, he played 70 games, starting 68 of them, he averaged 18.7 points per game, with 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. It was a successful season for Kyle individually, although the teams’ 37-45 record ensured the team missed the playoffs for the second straight season of his career.
He Has Lost an Inch Since Joining the NBA
When Kyle Kuzma joined the NBA, he had a listed height of 6 feet 9 inches. It was a body frame that made him an ideal player for his position as a power forward. Having reached the height since high school, it helped get him listed as the 25th best power forward in the country by ESPN.
At 6 ft 9 inch, Kyle Kuzma’s height also aided his impressive college career. There, he recorded personal records like starting 35/36 Utah games, scoring 52% of his shots from the field, and 25% of his 3-PTs.
Kyle Kuzma now has an official height of 6 feet 8 inches following rule changes by the NBA in 2019 that require teams to provide precise measurements without shoes.
However, the loss of an extra inch in his official height did not affect his quality on the court. Before the suspension of the league in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he had played 54 games, averaging 12.5 points per game with 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Kyle Kuzma Biological Father is Out of the Picture
Unlike some of his teammates, Kyle Kuzma did not have the most wholesome start to his family life. His mother, Karri Kuzma, got pregnant with him in college and remained the only biological parent in his life to date. According to him, he has only met his biological father once.
She did not, however, raise the Laker’s power forward alone. Karri met Larry Smith, a father of two, who became a father figure in the Kuzma household. Together, they raised Kyle Kuzma in Flint, Michigan. As the only father figure in his life, Larry had a lot of first with Kyle, including being the first person he played basketball with.
Karri Kuzma’s relationship with Larry Smith also meant Kyle gained two siblings, a half-brother, and half-sister. Both younger than him, Andre, the brother, is a student at Grand Blanc High School in Michigan. According to him, despite the age difference, the two have a cordial and strong familial relationship.
As for his half-sister, she is Briana, who works at Bishop International Airport as a baggage handler. We don’t know much about her education history, but like Karri and the rest of the family, she is a huge supporter of her brother.
His Mother Used to Play Shotput
All Karri Kuzma might be known for today is her status as Kyle’s mom, but before then, she was a shotput champion. She was a two-time Class B shotput champion at Otisville Lakeville High School. Her performance in high school earned her a track scholarship at Hillsdale College. Her college career ended after she got pregnant with the Lakers star.
Another noteworthy fact about Kyle Kuzma’s family is he and his mother used to move around a lot. The duo relocated several times for different reasons, one being to avoid an obsessed ex-boyfriend. They also relocated after an eviction.
Mom a crib https://t.co/wVs1zIpQmT
— kuz (@kylekuzma) November 24, 2017
In appreciation of his mother’s sacrifices and his desire to see her do well, Kyle bought a house for his mother after joining the NBA.