If you saw the back of a college basketball jersey reading Stoudemire and saw Lake Wales, FL was his hometown, according to the roster; you’d probably be baffled, right? Amar’e got drafted right out of high school the typical basketball fan would think.
Relax, it’s not a myth. It’s Calvin, the younger brother of the New York Knicks superstar. This Stoudemire plays ‘Magician’ ball at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, TN, a total diversion from his original basketball plan.
He’d planned to go to a basketball preparatory school before entering a major Division-I school, preferably in his home state of Florida. However, during his last Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) summer tournament, Magician head basketball coach William Anderson spoke with an AAU coach and asked to speak to young Stoudemire.
Stoudemire, who majors in finance, decided that it wasn’t about D-I or D-II, he realized something greater right before signing with LeMoyne-Owen: “I just want to go get my education and play ball.”
Now a senior, Stoudemire was truthful about the difference he may have experienced at another school. “I can say, a D-I would probably offer more publicity,” he said after imagining seniority-based ESPN highlights that revolve around his name.
He gets special recognition around the LeMoyne-Owen campus for being Amare’s younger brother, citing “even if I have a mediocre game…people think I’m good regardless of how I play. I get noticed just because of him (Amar’e).”
There have been numerous times when people, including his own coaches, have asked him if he is in fact Amar’e Stoudemire’s brother – kids would even mosey by trying to get a good look. “At first, it got aggravating, but the older I got, the more I knew how to handle it,” he said. He’s even been dubbed ‘Little Amare’ by some people.
But basketball, for him, is more than the advantages that come with having a NBA superstar for an older brother. Stoudemire said he’s truly grown to love the game. “Basketball teaches you life lessons: loyalty, honestly, trustworthiness. It taught me to be a motivator…it’s formed me into a stronger person,” he said. Basketball at LeMoyne-Owen couldn’t be any better for him on and off the court.
Usually, the Magicians return home for the summer. But this past one, Coach Anderson encouraged his team to stay in Memphis and prepare for the upcoming season. Because social amenities in the city were scarce, the team practiced literally every day which brought them closer together.
“That’s one thing about LeMoyne-Owen basketball, we’re bonded,” he said, “Every one of my teammates is like my brother, and I learned the respect of brotherhood.” Of course he meant a different type of brotherhood versus the one with Amar’e or his other three brothers. He also has four sisters.
Growing up, his mother compelled him and his siblings to play sports year-round as a way to limit mischief and, originally, baseball was Stoudemire’s first love. He rejected basketball until he reached the eighth grade.
Seeing the elder Stoudemire go from playing basketball at a simple park to getting drafted by the NBA’s Phoenix Suns ninth overall out of Cypress Creek High School in 2002, a similar scenario seemed unimaginable for Calvin when he was younger but he says embraces the challenge now. “If it can happen for him (Amar’e), maybe it can happen for me too,” Stoudemire said.
The intense pressure that Amare’s NBA status brings to Stoudemire demands excellence from the LeMoyne-Owen forward. For many years, everyone compared him to his brother saying he couldn’t live up to the standards. “It caused me to work on my game every summer because people thought I should be like him,” he stated. He said, at times, he was discouraged because he knew he wasn’t as good as his brother. “I have to perform at the top level every night,” he said.
According to Stoudemire, results of his hard work have begun to show. Last year, he wasn’t in the top ten of the SIAC in any statistical category, but things have changed this season as he ranks ninth in the SIAC in scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (7.5 rpg), and steals (1.9 spg) while ranking fifth in field goal percentage (.527) and third in blocked shots, averaging nearly two blocks per contest. He called it “coming from the bottom to the top.”
Stoudemire, who was named the SIAC Player of the Week earlier this season, emphatically says, “Hard work got me here.” His improved play also has the Magicians in the midst of the SIAC regular season title race, after finishing ninth last season.
Calvin says Amar’e supports him as long he’s doing something positive. “That takes pressure off of my mom,” Stoudemire said.
When Stoudemire (Calvin) was a sophomore at LeMoyne-Owen, he lost both grandparents within three weeks of one another. “My grandma and granddad were a great part of my life because they helped raised me, too,” he said, “It’s hard to see my mama going through it and there’s nothing you can do about it. I learned to pray and depend on God to get me through.” He said Amare, though, will always provide a helping hand.
The two brothers are in constant communication. The younger looks up to the older because they’ve experienced many of the same hardships and one made it through. The other is waiting for his chance to do the same and even if he does it in a way that is different from his older brother, it’ll be good enough for him.
“People expect me to be like Amar’e, but I’m Calvin Stoudemire. I’ll never be Amar’e.”
Written by Jessika Morgan