Boston – When Al Horford was 14 years old, he moved to Michigan, where his father and four half-siblings lived in the Dominican Republic, where he was raised by his mother in Santo Domingo.
“That’s really cool,” said Anna Horford, 29, Al’s half-sister. “He helped raise us.”
He looked after his siblings and played baseball, volleyball, and basketball in the backyard. Anna Al remembers skipping a high school party to be with them.
When they were old enough to party alone, he gave advice, urged them to be safe, and called him if they needed a ride.
“He’s always been like his father,” said Anna. “He’s about six years older than the eldest Horford. He’s always been older and always leads the track in one way or another. I think the Celtics are the same.”
“I joke that he’s like my Celtics dad,” he added, “because he’s always trying to get a guy in line or when he talks he makes sure he listens, cares and respects him.”
At the start of the season, Alhoford, 36, was the only player in his 30s. Boston’s starting line-up includes three 20-year-olds Jason Tatum, Jaylene Brown and Marcus Smart who just started their NBA tour six years ago when Horford became the first Celtic player.
He briefly left Boston before returning this season to provide veteran leadership and stability for the young Celtics. His presence and the Boston stage helped propel the franchise’s 18th championship.
Horford said of Tatum, Brown and Smart, “grow up differently and so much better.” “This is the kind of team they are. This is the kind of time they have. You know? from him now.”
Horford became the first Dominican player to reach the NBA Finals when Boston defeated the Miami Heat in Game 7 to win the Eastern Conference Championship. In Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia, he made 141 playoffs without reaching the final. That’s more than any other player.
The outburst he showed as the Celtics celebrated their conference title reflected how much it meant to him. But he also means a lot to his comrades.
“Nothing is worth more than this man to my right,” said Brown that night. “His energy, his attitude, comes every day, being a professional, taking care of his body, as a leader – I’m proud to be able to share this moment with veterans, mentors, brothers and people like Al Horford. Men. ”
The Celtics drafted the Browns in 2016, weeks before Horford signed a four-year contract with the team. The following summer, Boston picked Tatum in third overall. Sixth Smart was generally unveiled in 2014.
Horford spent three years in Boston with Brown, Tatum and Smart, the Celtics went to the conference finals twice and lost once in the conference semifinals. He chose to leave in the last year of his contract in 2019 and joined the 76ers as a free agent.
In December 2020, the 76ers traded him for the rarely used Oklahoma City Thunder. In June 2021, Boston swapped the Thunder to get it back.
“I think there’s a reason for everything,” said Horford. “They grew up, and so did I. I had a different point of view and now I’m more grateful for what I have.”
When the Celtics head of basketball operations and former head coach Brad Stevens of the team called Horford to tell him about the trade, Horford was in the car with his family. They all got excited and started screaming.
Anna Horford said of Boston, “I thought it felt like home.” “It was the first place she played when she was old enough to realize her kids were starting to play. Ian was a toddler in Atlanta. He went to school. here, friends here, So do the other children – it used to be the first place the whole family could feel at home.”
Home is a very meaningful concept for transgender people like Horford.
In Santo Domingo, his mother Arelis Reynoso was a sports journalist and sometimes took him on missions.
“I felt really independent there from a young age,” Horford said. “It’s really special to be with my mother this time.”
He moved to Michigan for high school and then went to college in Florida, winning two national championships alongside two other players who had illustrious NBA careers, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer.
3rd overall draft by the Hawks in 2007, he was selected to be 4 of the first 5 All-Star teams while playing for Atlanta.
The seeds of his long career were sown there.
“I see his daily habits,” said Kenny Atkinson, the Hawks’ assistant coach when Horford played there. “Al will be like Nolan Ryan. He will play until the age of 45. He is perfect at that.”
Atkinson helped Horford develop his three-pointer, which also helped prolong his career in a league that gradually eliminated the non-shooting giants.
Atkinson is currently an assistant to Golden State. He said this the day after Horford had scored 26 points and six three-pointers in Boston’s first game against Golden State.
How do you think Horford’s career will continue?
“No,” said Atkinson. “But I’m not surprised.”
Back in Boston, Horford tries to share with his younger colleagues the habits he has developed over time. They gladly accepted the suggestion.
“It’s like a teacher and a student when you see them talking to Al,” said Joan Morgan, a third-year striker who signed for Boston before the end of the regular season. “You only see the elements that you admire. Everyone is silent when Al speaks, because they know it’s best for the team.”
Horford described it as an attitude of mutual respect.
“You’re trying to set a good example for them,” said Horford. “I’m just trying to lead and help them. They know what I’m up against. I play the right way and do my job the right way on the pitch. But working the right way off the pitch.”
This is the same language that Horford uses to talk about mentoring with his younger siblings.
Horford said, “It’s important to me to help them in some way so that they can thrive in whatever they choose in life.”
It seems to convey the hearts of those who care for their son.
Ian is 7 years old, full of curly black hair. He likes basketball and hangs out in the locker room with his dad’s friends. After Game 1 and 3 of the NBA Finals, Al Horford grabbed his hand and led him to the podium for a post-match interview. Ean winked at the camera after the first game.
“He had a huge influence on his sister,” he said. “My second Alia is now more interested in basketball.”
Her younger brother, Alia, 5 years old, couldn’t make it to the 3rd game because the start time at 9pm was too late. But he wanted to leave so much that he drew Al, his wife Amelia Vega and Ian from the game and put them on his father’s bed so he could see them when he got home.
He smiled and said, “I was in a bad mood this morning. He will be playing Game 4, which means he will be in the 3rd Evado game. There is no way you can miss.”
Horford saw a lot of himself in his son, especially in his observation skills and competitive firepower.
In Ean, he also saw a child who loves his older brother’s responsibilities and likes to protect and educate his younger siblings. This is another thing he shares with his father.