“The beauty in being blessed with talent is rising above doubters to create a beautiful moment.” — Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)
BLACK MAMBA JR.
A photo of the legendary Kobe Bryant occupies the cover image area of Dayronn Tucker’s Facebook page.
There is, by all accounts, a valid reason why Tucker has deemed it essential to customarily exemplify the “Mamba mentality,” something by which the late Bryant had exhibited masterly throughout his illustrious NBA Hall of Fame career.
A rising sophomore swingman for Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina, Tucker doesn’t shy away from the notion that he has set high expectations for himself, even as a relatively newcomer for a private, multidenominational Christian-based institution.
“Basketball is something I’ve always love to do and was good at,” Tucker, 21 told Making Headline News this week. “Kobe was a key reason why I wanted to go pro. His passion for the game rubbed off on me and to see the impact he had on people was crazy.”
While fulfilling his dream of playing professionally will undoubtedly take some doing, Tucker has become a mastermind, of sorts, for defying arguably the toughest of odds.
According his mother, Veronica Tucker, who first placed a basketball in her son’s hands when he essentially was too young to remember, she said he first professed an interest of playing pro basketball at the tender age of four.
“I believe the sport is in his DNA,” Veronica Tucker said. “We have a lot of athletes within the family, including his father.”
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Because Dayronn Tucker had looked up to Bryant years before he debuted on the AAU hoops circuit, the news of the Bryant’s tragic death in January was too difficult for him to stomach.
“Kobe Bryant was his favorite player,” Veronica Tucker said. “When Kobe passed away, literally everyone was calling checking on him…like my heart dropped. He was like, ‘Kobe was a part of the family,’ even though we never met him.”
Dayronn Tucker, according to his mother, had followed Bryant’s rise to stardom during a professional career that was highlighted by five world titles and 18 All-Star appearances.
“I remember when he was about six, I told him that he had to do research on the game itself and his favorite athlete,” Veronica Tucker recalls. “And, sure enough, he brought back research information about the game and Kobe Bryant, fully memorized.”
Yep. That’s surely a prime example of one exemplifying the “Mamba mentality,” a trend Dayronn Tucker hopes will ultimately transcend to his mechanics on the court.
A former West Columbia Airport High School standout, Dayronn Tucker is aiming to become a catalyst for a CIU team that finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 20-10 record and an NCCAA South Region championship with a 105-91 win over Brewton-Parker College of Georgia.
“I work out at least four times a week, and then I’ll usually take one day off to rest,” said Dayronn Tucker, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the postponements of several organized workouts. “My biggest strengths are definitely playmaking and moving without the ball. I understand floor spacing and filling in different spots to get open, but by weaknesses would be rebounding and defense. My Lateral quickness is a key component in my game I want to improve.”
Generally, after a year in which he enjoyed more success the second half of the season — “The first half of the season, I started shaky, but the second half definitely picked up and I ended the season well,” he said — Dayronn Tucker’s primary focus is to pick up where he left.
Or, perhaps, finally enjoy what he hopes is a much-anticipated breakthrough season.
The offseason, he emphasized, is the ideal time to make the necessary preparations and adjustments.
“Conditioning was always big for me and strengthening my core, but this summer, I definitely want to gain more muscle and do more weight training, because that also helps with endurance especially on defense,” Dayronn Tucker said. “Mentally, I’m just making sure my mind is clear of not having too many distractions so I can stay focus on this season.”
All things considered, if Dayronn Tucker is fortunate to make good on his assortment of lofty goals and ambitions this upcoming season, he’s confident he will eventually grasp the attention of pro scouts.
When asked what kind of player would a professional franchise inherit if he ultimately fulfills his dream, Dayronn Tucker, without hesitation, said: “A player who is willing to listen learn from coaches and players and someone who is committed to always improving. I’m not very talkative, but I do voice my opinion and ask questions to make sure I understand things.”
Something for which the “Black Mamba” was famous throughout his illustrious career.
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Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist or Instagram at @makingheadlinenews.