Paul George gave a happy ending to a tough chapter in his career this summer when he won Gold in Rio with Team USA. The victory marked the end of an incredible comeback, one that had been in the works since he suffered a horrific injury two years ago while training with Team USA.
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After the calamity, many questioned whether George would ever be the same, but the even-keeled Indiana Pacers forward was unbothered.
“That’s pretty much what my career has been based off of—being doubted,” George said. “That’s the reason why I love to work every day, to prove people wrong.”
George insists that he has faced down the disbelief of others at every stage of his career. It seemed that with each step he took—moving up from JV to varsity starter at Knight High School in Palmdale, California; earning a scholarship to Fresno State; and ultimately earning a spot on NBA Draft boards—critics found a way to cast a shadow on his achievements.
“I was told I wasn’t going to be in the position that I’m in now—wouldn’t be an All-Star, wouldn’t be in the league longer than four years, wouldn’t even make it to the league,” George said.The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder used those doubts to fuel his fire. “It’s all bulletin board material. You see the big picture.”
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The 26-year-old George says that through it all, what kept him in the game was his unwillingness to doubt himself. That, plus the ability to keep going no matter how tough things got, are what enabled him to realize his dreams—including the one he achieved in Rio.
“Deep down, I believe one of the biggest things you have to have in this game is self-belief,” George said. “I’m fully confident in my work ethic and approach. It comes down to just believing in yourself and putting the work in.”
Follow the inspiring stories of other pro and high school athletes proving their doubters wrong at #SayICant.