Spotlight: Clippers Guard Shaun Livingston
By Zack Cimini
In sports overcoming injuries tests an athletes mental will to regain his old form. 23 year old Oklahama City Thunder guard, Shaun Livingston, has been on and off the court with derailing injuries that some players never come back from. Being young has helped his recovery but there is more to Shaun besides basketball. He spends a lot of time hosting events for underprivileged kids by giving back to the city of Los Angeles and hometown Peoria, Illinois. When healthy, Livingston has shown to be a top notch defender, great point guard with sick dishes, and a steadily improving offensive player.
His injury February of 2007 may have been one of the most painful sports injuries ever to watch. One so severe that doctors hinted that he may have had to have his leg amputated. Everyone has seen it but just in case you haven’t, here is the hard to watch clip.
Q: Being from Chicago you must have love for Kanye and Common, what other artists are you into right now?
A: Obviously Kanye and Common are the big artists out right now. Ya know, Tupac is the all time favorite, Twista was big when he came out with Do or Die in Chicago. So those are definitely in the archives.
Q: Do you have anything current right now in your CD rotation?
A: Right now, obviously a lot of Lil Wayne. I mean he is dropping something new every week. That new Common is out, and I like that new Kanye and 50.
Q: They’re having a little war, are you rooting for them both?
A: Yeah I am, I’m a fan of both. Supposedly there is beef and all that, but good music is good music. If I can ride to it, than that’s what it is.
Q: Being under the wing of Sam Cassell how much of an affect has he had on you?
A: He has been good. He is older and more experienced, and has so many little tricks to get his shot off and get space. That’s mostly what I’ve learned is to be able to create space for yourself, but also being able to the run the team and knowing when to take over yourself and getting your teammates involved.
Q: Talk about your foundation.
A: The foundation we started a few years back. It’s been running three or four years now and were getting a lot more proactive this past year. Basically it’s for underprivileged kids from optical communication all ages. Whether it’s a St. Judes program, kids with cancer or diseases; underprivileged more so like kids that are struggling trying not to give up. We’re giving kids more of an opportunity and people more of an opportunity to do things. To experience things to make them better, and better at what they’re doing with a chance to succeed.
Q: Outside of NBA games what type of gear do you like to wear?
A: Casual. I like the jeans with a regular t-shirt. Maybe a little sporty casual kicks. I get dressed up every now and then. Maybe a sweater or blazer. Nice jeans, nice shirt, and some business casual shoes.
Q: You’ve had a career worth of injuries during your first few seasons. How do you stay positive to your road of recovery each time?
A: It’s tough, but I mean I guess I could be where I am at right now, or I could be walking with one leg. There was a chance for them to cut my leg off. So I mean it is what it is. I’m better, I’m blessed, and I have a chance to come back and play ball again. I’m definitely optimistic about it and it’s going to happen.
Q: Going back to your latest injury in February of 2007, what was going on in your head when you landed there?
A: I did it before with my right leg when I popped my right kneecap out. I thought I did the same. I was in a lot of pain but I was thinking maybe four to six weeks. Until they told me I tore all those ligaments and then I knew I was going to be out for pretty much all of the year.
Q: Back in high school we saw you rocking the big fro, and now the braids. Are we going to see a Ludacris fro or cut transformation from you anytime soon?
A: Yeah, I know I would love to. All the fans like the fro but it’s hard for me to play with the fro. It gets in the way when I play. I need it to be back so I can see so I can have some vision. It’s not working for me when it’s bouncing off my face and I can’t see my defender or my teammates….We’ll see I have about maybe another year or so before I think about cutting it. I might have to go with the grown man look or something.
Q: Were you really close to signing with Duke, or was the NBA pretty much where you were going?
A: No, I signed a letter of intent with Duke. I was going there and everything but found out I was going top five or top ten.
Q: So you were getting these prognostications from what type of sources?
A: More so my trainer, Tim Grover from Chicago, he trains a lot of NBA athletes from training Michael Jordan. So he had a bunch of contacts throughout the league. So he was basically my agent sort of speak. He was just getting word and feedback and everything else. It was legit so we made it happen.
Q: Do you like the new rule that you have to play one season of college basketball?
A: It’s cool, I think it will make the college game better. It’ll be good for kids to get a year of maturity, but obviously when we were coming up it wasn’t in place. It was more so our choice and what decision was best for us.
Q: We saw a few commercials last year with Reebok, how’s that current deal going?
A: It’s going well. I got another year or two to get under my belt. Things are good and we’re currently working on marketing and exposing my athletic and lifestyle abilities.
Q: With your size and quickness I’ve seen you guard all over the floor. Who gives you the most fits?
A: The quicker guys are tough, but it’s a little easier for me to guard them because I am tall and can contain them. More so the stronger and quicker guys. Guys that I have to guard like a Baron Davis, Derin Williams, or a Dwayne Wade.
Q: A lot of people don’t see the rigorous rehabilitation workouts athletes have to do. Describe an average day during your previous rehab?
A: You get up early, lift weights, than I go to a therapy rehab from there. You have to start off with ice and heat just too micro contrast and rub my knees to get going. I warm up a bit, then I have muscle exercises, whether it is strength or agility. I’m currently in the pool right now doing running exercises. Some days in the pool I’ll lift weights with my legs and lower body to strengthen it. Also I will try to get my range of motion, so they bend my leg back as far it will go and try to push it, push it. It’s probably about a three to three and a half hour process five days a week.
Q: Do you have any worries about coming back early, or are you just going to take this one month at a time?
A: I’m going to take it a day, month, whatever it takes at a time. I have goals and definitely want to get back to playing and everything else, but it will have to be the right thing. The right thing for me, or otherwise it will not be good for me or the team.
Q: I’ve read that you have your finances in line, unlike other athletes that spend freely. That’s shocking for a young person as yourself. How have you managed to budget and save so well?
A: A lot of that has come from the early years, from saving off of that. I didn’t come from a lot of money, so we had to save what we had anyway and budget. So now it’s just a larger scale, which can be harder to do with more to spend. The bottom line is that we are not going to play ball forever. It’s very unlikely that we will get these checks for the rest of our lives, unless we handle our business and try to brand ourselves for life after basketball.
Q: Tell us where you see yourself five years from now?
A: Hopefully I will have a chance from sometime between now and then to play in the conference finals and finals, and be close to winning a championship. Also to have my foundation up and running fully, putting on our own events here in LA and also in my hometown of Peoria, Illinois. Branding my real estate company into other areas, whether it’s a movie production company, marketing company, whatever it is.
Q: With the referee scandal being exposed, did you ever have any suspicions on the court?
A: I would have never known. So it’s just one of those things…. good thing they caught it. That type of stuff is not good for the game of basketball, especially pro basketball. I never knew any suspicions but I’m not defending any of it.