Drafted…Now What

Two days after the NBA draft, Terance headed to LA to begin training. The Clippers organization invited our family out to join Terarance in LA. Our trip would include dinner with the Clippers’ brass and an invitation to the 2019 NBA Awards Show, hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. With less than 48 hours to prepare for our trip across the country, we needed to move fast.  Both Terance and his younger brother Martin would need suits. When you both stand over 6’5” you can’t buy one off the rack at Macy’s. We scrambled. My then-fiance quickly contacted his tailor who had made Terance’s suit for the draft. He was in Pittsburgh, but already had Terance’s measurements. Could he make another custom suit for Terance and send it Fed-Ex directly to LA in time for the awards show two days later in Los Angeles? Somehow, we got it done.  Martin would wear Terance’s suit from draft night. My closet is filled with dresses and I was excited to have the opportunity to pack one of my favorites to wear. It was a scramble, but everyone was all set for our big night. 

Martin, Terance’s dad (Eustace) and I flew to LA – first class.  This was the first time I ever flew first class. I sipped on complimentary cocktails,  ate chicken sauteed in mushroom sauce – a far cry from the small packet of pretzels you typically receive when you are seated in coach. The best part was the cushioned seating and being able to stretch out my legs. The extended legroom was greatly appreciated, especially for Martin, who is 6’7”.

The realization that Terance was in the NBA was slowly setting  in. In my 20 plus years as a basketball coach, I had flown hundreds of times. Not once did I feel important or famous.  This time was different. It was like I had a sign taped across my forehead that read “I am Terance Mann’s mom and he plays for the LA Clippers.”  

Shortly after we arrived, we had dinner at Fleming’s steakhouse with the Clippers’ Head Coach Doc Rivers and General Manager Lawrence Frank. We talked about their interest in Terance and the entire  draft process. It was a great way for both parties to discuss what happened behind the scenes on draft night. It was interesting to hear that the process was similar to what I would do to recruit a student-athlete. We learned they had been following Terance since high school.  Beyond his physical attributes and athletic ability they knew him to be a person of high character and excellent work ethic. It also helped that Terance was the son of a coach, which, in their words explained his high basketball IQ. It was a great night.  

The following day we attended the NBA Awards.  There was no better way to celebrate being drafted than a walk on the red carpet.  It felt like the show was simply created to announce the new Clippers Terance Mann.  I didn’t even care that we were surrounded by other celebrities like Robin Roberts, Magic Johnson and Common.  In my mind all eyes were on Terance Mann. The cameras flickered and we soaked up every bit of it. I think Martin enjoyed it the most. He is outgoing and expressive and looked like a natural on the red carpet.  Terance, on the other hand, started out a bit shy and nervous, but blossomed when the cameras flashed and he was getting interviewed on the red carpet by every media outlet in attendance. He handled it like a pro.  It was amazing to see my sons enjoying the limelight.  

The Clippers placed us in a hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA. This would also be Terance’s home for a few weeks.  The celebrations were over. Now it was time to get down to business. Getting drafted was just the first of many steps.  Terance still had to solidify a spot on the 12 player roster. After we left LA and headed back to the East Coast, Terance spent his days practicing at the training facility and preparing for the NBA Summer League in Vegas. However, he also had to find time to look for an apartment.  He asked for my help so although I had just returned home a few days earlier, I immediately dropped everything and flew back out to LA shortly after my return. This time I flew coach and needless to say it was not the same experience. The seats felt smaller than I remembered and there were no free cocktails.  I vowed to never fly coach again. Wishful thinking.

I had a friend, Corrie Summers, who worked as a real estate agent in the LA area.  So I called on her for her assistance. She sold high end homes so I knew this would be right up her alley.  He needed a place that was secure enough for the new Clipper, close enough to the practice facility and affordable.  Together, the three of us spent a few days searching for a home. Since Terance was unable to get on the lease alone due to his age and lack of credit, I had to step in and be a co-applicant. Terance wanted a three bedroom apartment because two of his childhood friends were planning to come to live with him.  At first I was a bit surprised by his decision to have roommates, but Terance has had roommates since 8th grade. He has never lived alone. I also realized the benefits of having familiar people around. Newly married and living on the East Coast, I was not about to move to LA. I would travel to the West Coast as often as I could, but it would be impossible for me to be there all the time.  His childhood friends Romello Crowell and Terrance Edrington agreed to live with him. Our families are quite close so I had a good feeling this would be the best company for him. They were ambitious, mature and hard-working young men. They would provide a great source of not only friendship, but genuine support for Terance as he navigated through his rookie year in the NBA. 

The cost of living in LA is incredibly expensive. I had heard LA was an expensive place to live, but I had no idea how expensive it was.  If it wasn’t for an NBA salary, I would not recommend a 23 year old live in LA. The cost to rent a one bedroom apartment was astronomical (an average one bedroom is almost $3,000 a month). Terance was looking for a three bedroom, so you can just imagine the prices.  Luckily, we found one that accommodated his needs and budget. Terance and his friends would each have a room, their own bathroom and even an extra room they now call “the man cave” – the place they congregate to watch movies and play video games. I sleep there when I visit and call it my  “she shed.”  

Before the landlord handed the keys over to Terance, we went through quite a lengthy application process.  The homeowner was skeptical about renting to a 23 year-old with no credit. His NBA contract was not enough to show proof of income and  I don’t think the home owner knew anything about the Clippers nor did she care. Finally, Terance got approved and had a September 1st move in date.  Mission accomplished!  

Shortly after we found the place, Terance headed to the NBA Summer League in Vegas. I headed back to Rhode Island, but would soon join Terance back on the West Coast. For 22 years on the fifth of July,  I traveled to begin the July recruiting period, in search of talent to join my team. This time on the day following Independence Day, I was traveling to Vegas to see my son play. I was sitting in the Charlotte airport waiting for my connecting flight and saw several coaches hustling by to catch their flights.  It was a weird feeling knowing I was no longer one of them. But any sadness I felt about not coaching this year was quickly erased as I had a chance to witness my son’s breakout performance in the Summer League. In one game, he was just shy of a triple double and by the time the Summer League ended my was dubbed “the steal of the draft.”  I was so happy to be there to witness him compete against NBA players. I sat in the stands and marveled at his play. He was ready and seasoned. He stood out among the rookies. His four years at Florida State University clearly set him apart from the rest. He was playing the point guard position – a new role on a new team. He shined and I beamed.

Teraance Mann is the Surprise of the Summer League  – (7/19)

Clippers Rookie Terance Mann is Proving his Point During Summer League – LA Times (7/19)

Right after summer league ended, I returned home to Rhode Island. Terance had a short break, his first stretch of downtime since NBA workouts began in May.  He immediately headed back to FSU to spend some time with his former teammates and coaches – his prior basketball family, who he is still so close to. He deserved a chance to celebrate his recent success with his brothers, something he hadn’t had a chance to do.  The trip to FSU was short and as soon as it ended he was back on the West Coast and off on a team bonding trip with his new teammates in Miami and attending rookie transition meetings.  

I didn’t see Terance again until the day before my wedding in August.  He took a day away from rookie transition to be part of my bridal party and watch as I walked down the aisle.  To experience this milestone and celebrate with my boys was amazing. We laughed, we danced and we celebrated with family and friends.  As the DJ introduced the bridal party he announced Terance not only as my son, but as “the newest member of the LA Clippers.” The place erupted.  Everyone close to us who was not able to be with us at the draft party finally had a chance to celebrate Terance’s success. I didn’t mind sharing my wedding day with the new Clipper.  It was the first time in years that we were all together to celebrate a joyous occasion. The next morning Terance flew back out to join his teammates at rooking transition meetings. His time spent at home was short lived – like most Christmases – but this one felt different.  Our celebration would continue.