Marcus Landry may not have many fans in Boston yet, but four of his biggest fans arrived here on Wednesday for the first time.
Landry, 24, is not your typical NBA rookie. The undrafted forward out of the University of Wisconsin holds down two other full-time jobs while playing on the Boston Celtics- he's a husband and a father of three.
Landry and his wife, Efueko, met in church back in Landry's high school days at Vincent HS in Milwaukee. She went on to play basketball at Marquette University, while he attended nearby Wisconsin. It was during these next four years in college that Marcus and Efueko would have three children- Marcus Jr. (4), Mariah (3), and Makaylah (1).
Obviously, with three children come many responsibilities that most college students don't have. It goes without saying that Landry's typical day of college was anything but typical. While his wife would drop the kids off at daycare early in the morning, Landry would hop on his moped and head to class.
"In college it was hard," Landry admitted. "I'd wake up in the morning, I'd go to class, I'd come home, get the kids, take a nap, go off to practice. After practice sometimes I'd have a class, so I'd go to class and then come back home and be with the kids. I'd go to church if it was on a Wednesday. So, it was hard but it was something I made it through."
Certainly there was no time for 10 cent wings on Tuesday nights at the local pub, and it's doubtful Landry spent much time at the Miller Brewing Company. Through four seasons at Wisconsin, Landry averaged 9.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. He was named Second Team All-Big 10 in both his junior and senior year, and became the 18th player in school history to record at least 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. Having a family kept Landry's eyes on the prize, and it's the reason he has made an NBA roster.
"It gives me something to work for," said Landry. "It gives me that (push) like, ‘you got to go work, you have three mouths to feed and you have to take care of your wife.' So having that drive, and that family there, is what really gave me that edge; that chip on my shoulder to go into workouts and go into practices and just go hard."
But when the NBA Draft came and went, Landry's name wasn't called. Like many graduating college students, Landry was left without a job in a tough economy. He couldn't afford, literally and figuratively, to sit around and weigh his options. His agent said there was some interest in him from some teams, and Landry joined the Sacramento Kings for workouts and played on the Summer League team. Cut from the Kings roster, Landry's agent made some calls, and the New York Knicks responded.
"It was kind of weird," Landry said shaking his head. "My agent had called them and they wanted to bring me out for a workout, but they wouldn't pay for it. So I went out there and paid my own airfare and paid my own hotel. They actually weren't doing workouts; they were just doing five on five's."
So on his own dime, Landry left his family once again to try his luck in New York City for the three-day event. They call New York City the City that Never Sleeps, and Landry, not knowing what the future of his family would hold, didn't get much sleep either.
"I probably played the worst basketball of my life, so I thought," Landry said. "I guess they thought I played alright and they decided to bring me into veteran's camp."
Landry was up against six other players vying for that last Knicks roster spot in camp. The hard work and dedication he put in towards school and his family translated onto the basketball court, as he out-worked the others on a daily basis.
"I was hearing from my teammates that they were going to keep me, as days went on and on I just heard, ‘They're going to keep you, congratulations you made the team.' The coaches didn't come up and say anything to me, it was my teammates."
Landry continued to work, taking everything he heard from his teammates with a grain of salt. It wasn't until right before the start of a preseason game, while he was in the layup line, that Landry finally heard the news that he made the last spot on the roster.
"I'm usually pumped at everything, but I heard I made the team and I was just quiet. It was emotional to me. David Lee came over to me and was like, ‘What's wrong man? You're not being your normal self.' I was like, ‘I heard I just made the team, they're going to cut the two guys tomorrow.' He was just like, ‘congratulations!'"
Still, it was all so much to take in. Less than six months ago Landry was living with his wife and three kids, still without a college degree, uncertain of what the future would hold. Now, he stands in the layup line before that night's game, feeling a lot more secure about his and his family's life.
"I was just, you know, emotionally I was just happy, like now I can take care of my family and provide for my family now," Landry said with a smile from ear to ear. "It was like the greatest feeling ever."
Since he was told the good news right before the start of the game, Landry could not wait until it was through to tell his wife. He had to text her at halftime and tell her that he made the team.
It wasn't long before the family moved to New York to live with Marcus and start their new lives. They wouldn't be there long though, as Marcus was traded at the deadline to the Celtics along with Nate Robinson. His family was away in Milwaukee at the time of the trade, and just joined him in Boston before the game against the Cavaliers.
"It was crazy because I didn't know," Landry stated. "I actually found out the day that I was getting traded that I will be getting traded. Usually you hear the rumors and you can kind of know if it's going to happen. You can pack up and start getting stuff together. I heard I got traded and I just had to pack up. My flight was leaving for Boston less than three hours after I heard. So I drove home and tossed two suits in a suitcase, some underwear and socks, and I literally left everything."
Landry leaves the team that signed him into this league, but joins a team that hopes to be a legitimate contender in the playoffs this season.
"This is a great opportunity. I didn't really know what to expect at first because I was hearing rumors that they might cut me, I don't know. I still don't know, but one bit of advice that my brother gave me was play like you're already on the team, so that's what I'm doing. I'm happy to be here, this is a great place to be- making the playoffs."
Marcus' brother, Carl, is in the third season of his career currently playing on the Sacramento Kings after two and half seasons on the Houston Rockets. As children, Carl and Marcus were huge Bucks fans, attending numerous games a year. Marcus' favorite player growing up was Ray Allen, a player who now sits two lockers away from him.
"I remember some shoes I got from Ray Allen back in high school. He was just my favorite player; I remember me and my brother staying after the games to see him come out and get autographs. I still have autographs to this day of Ray Allen. It's in a cardboard case- Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, Tim Thomas, Sam Cassell, just all those guys we have autographs of and we still have them to this day, that's what's so crazy about it. And now he's my teammate."
Based on his work ethic and attitude towards life, it is no surprise that Ray Allen was Landry's basketball idol growing up. Allen knows what it takes to be successful in this league, and had some advice for Landry and players in similar situations.
"Really, I mean, it's simple- don't worry about the things you can't control," Allen said. "What you can control is getting your rest, eating right, being where you need to be on time, and don't wait for somebody to ask you to do something. If Coach needs another player in line, be the first one. Lifts in the weight room- always be there. They need you to rebound- rebound. Whatever it is, it's like filling in the gaps."
Nate Robinson has played with Landry all season long, and knows the type of player Landry is better than anyone else in the Celtics organization.
"He's a hard worker," said Robinson. "He does everything by the book. He's a great kid- he can shoot, defend, everything. You can kind of call him an overachiever, in that a lot of people didn't think he was supposed to be in that position [to make the Knicks]."
You can call Marcus Landry a lot of things- a husband, father, hard worker, and overachiever. Now, you can call him a Boston Celtic. Welcome to our family, Marcus.