Willie Cauley-Stein will also have a special place in the hearts of the BBN, but the national media and general NBA fanbase doesn’t necessarily foster that same love. A new article, written by Connor Letourneau for the San Francisco Chronicle, could be enough to finally change that.
The feature, titled “Willie’s Reckoning: How the Warriors center found new purpose,” takes the reader through Cauley-Stein’s hometown of Spearville, Kansas. The town, which has just 793 residents, is so small “you didn’t just know everybody; you knew their birthdays, too,” according to Cauley-Stein. Letourneau paints a picture of Cauley-Stein’s simple yet pleasurable childhood in the town.
“Some of Cauley-Stein’s fondest memories involve jumping over wheat bales during harvest; dueling his friends in the backyard with sticks used to herd cattle; and playing bike tag until the streetlights came on. In eighth grade, after his basketball team stayed at a Best Western 90 miles north in Hays for a tournament, Cauley-Stein raved for weeks about getting to swim in an indoor pool.”
But it wasn’t always easy. Cauley-Stein moved around a bit, looking for the right fit for both academics and sports. Of course, that journey eventually led him to Lexington, John Calipari and the University of Kentucky. That, in turn, propelled him into the NBA. But after years of feeling like the Kings’ “scapegoat” and struggling to maintain his motivation for basketball, the death of his grandfather (and father-figure) shook Cauley-Stein back to his roots.