Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had a rocky upbringing in Chicago. He believed he only had two options: play basketball or sell drugs.

“I probably would've been the best drug dealer in the world,” the 31-year-old told ESPN.

In the summer of 2008, during his junior year, he had been suspended from the University of Arkansas basketball team for plagiarism. When he arrived home to Chicago’s west side, he faced a quandary: go after a pro career or hustle on the streets. At that time, his son was 2 and he had a newborn daughter—and he had also received a $5,000 advance payment from an agent, which he felt cemented his choice.

“Mouths need to be fed, you know?” Beverley said. “Coming from where I come from, I didn't have the luxury of having a trust fund. Or money from generations. Or the luxury of hoppin' into the family business, you know?” He added, “It's either hoop or you sell dope.”

But what really sealed his fate was the shooting death of his friend and little brother, Donovan Morris. Two days after he died, Beverley received a call to play overseas in Ukraine.

“I'm going to play basketball and not be in his shoes," Beverley said. “People talk about like, I don't know, sacrificial lambs and all that. And of course, I don't compare him to a lamb, but his sacrifice kind of woke up our family.” He continued, “It forced me to go hustle—the right way.

“I can't let myself down. I can't let my hood down, my area down,” he said. “I can't let Chicago down. I got to put on for my city.”