Born: May 24, 1979
Place of Birth: Bartow, FL
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Career and Life
Tracy Lamar McGrady Jr., nicknamed T-Mac, is an American former professional basketball player. McGrady was born in Bartow, Florida, to Melanise Williford. His father was not a part of his everyday life, so Melanise raised McGrady with the help of her mother, Roberta, in Auburndale.
As a youth, McGrady played high school basketball and baseball at Auburndale High School for three years before transferring to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina for his senior season. A relatively unknown player coming out of Florida, he made a name for himself after a strong performance at the Adidas ABCD Camp, an experience that helped McGrady recognize his true talent. He later reflected, "Nobody had a clue who Tracy McGrady was. Sonny Vaccaro gave me that platform, and I played against the best players in the world at that time. I left that camp the No. 1 player in the nation, 175 to No. 1." Behind his leadership, Mt. Zion emerged as the number two-ranked team in the country, and McGrady was named a McDonald’s All-American, national Player of the Year by USA Today, and North Carolina's Mr. Basketball by the Associated Press. Initially, McGrady considered playing college basketball at the University of Kentucky, but he ultimately decided to enter the NBA draft as he was a projected lottery pick.
McGrady is best known for his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he played as both a shooting guard and small forward. McGrady was a seven-time NBA All-Star, seven-time All-NBA selection, two-time NBA scoring champion, and one-time winner of the NBA Most Improved Player Award. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017.
McGrady entered the NBA straight out of high school and was selected as the ninth overall pick by the Toronto Raptors in the 1997 NBA draft. Beginning his career as a low-minute player, he gradually improved his role with the team, eventually forming an exciting duo with his cousin Vince Carter. In 2000, he left the Raptors for the Orlando Magic, where he became one of the league's most prolific scorers and a candidate for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. In 2004, he was traded to the Houston Rockets, where he paired with center Yao Ming to help the Rockets become a perennial playoff team. His final seasons in the NBA were plagued by injuries, and he retired in 2013 following a brief stint with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the San Antonio Spurs.
Since retiring, McGrady has worked as a basketball analyst for ESPN. From April–July 2014, he realized his dream of playing professional baseball, pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
While still an artist at Uptown Records, Myers was instrumental in convincing Andre Harrell to originally hire Sean "Diddy" Combs for his first music business gig as an intern. In the early 1990s, he is also credited for convincing Harell to sign Jodeci. Myers became the first rapper to head a major music label when he became the president of Uptown Records. During this time, Myers also developed the boy band Soul for Real, and was the executive producer and principal writer of several songs on the group's breakout album, Candy Rain. He later became senior vice president at Universal Music.
As an actor, Heavy D is perhaps best known for his role in the 1999 drama film The Cider House Rules, where he plays a migrant worker. Along with his castmates, he received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for best cast in a motion picture.
He fathered a daughter in 2000 with chef Antonia Lofaso, a contestant on the fourth season of Top Chef.
Heavy D's final live performance was with Eddie F at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards on October 11, 2011, their first live televised performance together in 15 years. Myers died on November 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 44. He collapsed outside his home in Beverly Hills, California, and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His death was initially thought to be connected to pneumonia.
An autopsy report, released on December 27, 2011, stated that the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism (PE). The coroner's office found that Myers died of a PE that had broken off from a deep vein thrombosis in the leg. He also suffered from heart disease. Craig Harvey, chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, said that the blood clot that resulted in the PE was "most likely formed during an extended airplane ride". Heavy D had recently returned from a trip to Cardiff, Wales, where he performed at a tribute to Michael Jackson.
Shortly after his death, MC Hammer and others paid tribute to Heavy D on Twitter. Hammer tweeted that, "We had a lot of great times touring together. He had a heart of gold. He was a part of what's good about the world."
His funeral was held at Grace Baptist Church in his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York. He was buried in Hartsdale, New York.
McGrady has three children with his wife, CleRenda Harris. Their first son, Laymen Lamar, was born on December 27, 2005, during a home game in Houston, which McGrady left at halftime. Tracy's younger brother, Chancellor "Chance" McGrady, played for the 2008 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball runner-up Memphis Tigers. McGrady and former teammate Vince Carter are distant cousins; after McGrady left the Raptors, they had a feud, but it was resolved in a short period of time.
In 2002, McGrady signed a longterm partnership with Adidas, agreeing to an endorsement deal that lasted through his playing career and beyond. Adidas produced a signature line of shoes for McGrady that Complex remembered as "all the buzz in the early-mid 2000's". Upon retiring, McGrady shifted his focus to his business investments, including Dasdak, a Washington, D.C.-based technology company, and Blue-04, a bottled water company in Florida. He was also an initial investor in a Minor League Baseball team which would become the Biloxi Shuckers. Since 2016, he has worked as an NBA analyst for ESPN.
In 2007, McGrady traveled to the Darfurian refugee camps in Chad with John Prendergast and Omer Ismail of the Enough Project. McGrady recruited NBA players to support an initiative linking schools in Darfurian refugee camps to American middle schools, high schools, and universities. During one of his final seasons with the Rockets, he changed his jersey number to #3 in order to promote his humanitarian efforts in the region and a documentary on his summer visit called 3 Points. In 2008, McGrady was criticized for his comments on the All-Star Game being held in New Orleans, only three years removed from the destruction surrounding Hurricane Katrina. McGrady publicly questioned the quality of public safety and protection of NBA players.
On February 4, 2014, McGrady confirmed that he was officially pursuing his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, working with Roger Clemens to become a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. On April 23, McGrady made the Skeeters' Opening Day roster. In his debut, he pitched 1 2⁄3 innings, receiving the loss. In July, he started the Atlantic League All-Star Game, where he recorded his first strikeout. After the game, McGrady announced his retirement from baseball.