Tracy McGrady, known to the world as “T-Mac,” was born on May 24, 1979 in Bartow, FL., to Melanise Williford. He grew up in Auburndale, FL., and is the product of an area called “The Hill” in Auburndale. A quaint town of about 9,000, it is surrounded by lakes and rests between Orlando and Tampa. Tracy’s family has been a major influence in his life. Raised by his mother, Melanise and grandmother, Roberta, Tracy grew to know both women as Mom.
At Auburndale High, he quickly became a two-sport star. He loved baseball and had aspirations of playing in the Major Leagues. Some Auburndale coaches were certain that McGrady would be playing in a Major League ballpark instead of on a NBA court.
Tracy’s hoops tale began in his junior year at Auburndale High. He averaged 23.1 pts and 12.2 rebounds a game with the Bloodhounds during the season. But despite the great numbers, Tracy was not receiving the type of attention that someone with his talents normally got. The only schools that showed interest in him were Florida and Miami.
After his junior year at Auburndale High School in Florida, he was invited to play in the ABCD Camp. Tracy was still looking for a way to put himself on the map and let the basketball world know who he was. During the senior all-star game, he dribbled down the left wing on a fast break and found only James Felton, a 6’9” blue-chipper from NJ committed to St Johns, between him and the basket. Tracy went up, cupped the ball in his right hand, and threw down a windmill dunk over James. He sent the whole gym into frenzy. “After I made that dunk, I had chills run through my body. It’s like the moment I knew I had finally arrived,” Tracy said. The recruiting newsletter “Hoop Scoop” praised Tracy as “the sleeper of the decade.” While he was not included in the list of the top 500 prospects before the summer, Tracy was ranked #2 behind Lamar Odom, in the next edition of the list. He was even featured in a 3-page article in the February 10, 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Joe Hopkins, the basketball coach at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina, received a call about Tracy from Alvin Jones Jr., a basketball coach at Kathleen High, a neighboring High School to Auburndale High. While in the area, Hopkins stopped by to meet with Tracy and his “moms.” Hopkins offered Tracy a scholarship to Mount Zion, and the rest is history.
His senior season he transferred to play one year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina, which turned out to be a very successful experience. Tracy has said that Joe Hopkins has been a big part of his life. Joe taught him to respect others, himself, and the game. “He’s my backbone,” Tracy says. “If it weren’t for Coach Hopkins, none of this would be possible.”
He led the Mighty Warriors of Mount Zion to a 20-1 record, earning the spot as the #2 team in the nation in USA TODAY’s Super 25. As a senior, he averaged 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game while shooting .564 from the field, .389 from three-point range and .791 from the free throw line. He was named the USA Today “Player of the Year,” “Player of the Year” in the state of North Carolina by The Associated Press, and was named to the McDonald’s All-American Team. By this time, Tracy had begun receiving the attention from all the top schools that he never heard from early in his high school career. As Tracy was getting set to commit to Kentucky, he was also receiving an abundance of interest from NBA teams and agents. Tracy wrestled with the decision, but ultimately decided to take his talents to the NBA rather than attend college.
The 6-foot-8, 200-pound prep-star, who played all five positions at Durham’s Mount Zion Christian Academy, announced his decision to make himself available for the June 25 1997 NBA draft. “I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” said Tracy, “I considered college, but my dream is to make it to the top, and I had a chance to do that earlier.”
On draft day, with question marks concerning if and when Tracy would get drafted, he was the 9th pick by the Toronto Raptors. On that day he joined the list of players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Jermaine O’Neal, who successfully made the jump from high school to the NBA. Tracy’s success paved the path for numerous other prep-to-pro NBA players before the NBA instituted a rule in 2006 requiring players to be at least 19 and one year removed from high school before entering the league.
Tracy’s stint with the Raptors lasted from 1997-2000, and gave him the opportunity to play alongside his cousin, Vince Carter. The duo were contestants in the NBA’s Slam dunk contest in 2000, where Carter edged out McGrady for the title.
After a few seasons in Carter’s shadow, Tracy was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2000 for a first round draft pick. The trade paid off immediately for the Magic as McGrady blossomed into a superstar in Orlando. In his first season in Florida, Tracy won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, and was named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Two seasons later he won the NBA’s scoring title by scoring over 32 points a game, making him the youngest winner of the prestigious title since the NBA/ABA merger. The following season McGrady won the scoring title again, averaging 28 points a game. He also scored his career-high of 62 points that season against the Washington Wizards on March 10, 2004.
Despite Tracy’s personal success, the Magic never made it into the league’s elite, and in June of 2004, Tracy was traded to the Houston Rockets in a seven-player deal. The trade gave him a fresh start on a new team, and also paired him up with 7’6” Yao Ming. After taking some time to adjust to his new team, Tracy led them to a fifth place finish in the Western Conference, but the team was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in a hard fought seven game series. The 2005-06 season was plagued by injuries for Tracy, and the Rockets failed to reach the playoffs. In 2006-07 Tracy led the Rockets to a 52-win season, their best finish in over a decade, but lost a tough series in 7 games to the Utah Jazz. Visibly emotional after the series, Tracy vowed to do everything in his power to take the Rockets even further in the 2007-2008 season. In 2008 the Rockets won 22 consecutive games in a row, for the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history. The Rockets entered the post season in the 5th seat and once again faced the Utah Jazz. Even in the absence of Yao Ming, who suffered a broken foot in February to keep him out of the second half of the season, the Rockets fought hard, even taking game 3 on Utah’s home court. Despite McGrady’s 40 points and 10 rebounds, the Rockets lost game six and were once again knocked out in the first round (4-2). The 2008-2009 season proved to be an uphill battle for McGrady. Despite getting off to a quick start, McGrady was hampered by his left knee, though he attempted to play through the pain. After being in and out of the lineup in December and January, he eventually determined after consulting doctors that his injury would require microfracture surgery, a procedure which would sideline him for the rest of the season. Despite not being able to play, McGrady was excited to see his teammates advance to the second round of the playoffs and take the Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals.
Tracy McGrady had only played six games with the Rockets in the 2009-2010 season when he was traded to the New York Knicks. After a season plagued by injury troubles Tracy ended the season averaging 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 9.4 points per game.
On August 16th, 2010, Tracy was traded to the Detroit Pistons. McGrady averaged 8.0 points, 3.5 assists, & 3.5 rebounds for the Detroit Pistons but they failed to make the Playoffs for the second year in a row. Tracy is happy to be in Detroit, hoping to stay injury free, and helping the team get back to championship form.
Tracy McGrady has racked up numerous individual accolades and continues to be one of the league’s most recognizable stars. He has been selected to the All-Star Team 7 times since 2001 and has been an All-NBA selection 7 times as well. In 2007, his image appeared on the cover of NBA Live 07.
Despite his success, Tracy has not limited himself to working solely on the court. Tracy is involved in his foundation, The Tracy McGrady Foundation, and is very active in the Florida and Houston communities. He has taken numerous trips to Asia, to serve as an ambassador for basketball and, most recently, has become very involved in the Enough Project to help with the crisis in Darfur.
Tracy took a trip to the region in the summer of 2007, to give himself a better understanding of the situation. “I still don’t know why, but I knew I had to go.” Tracy said, “I could have read about it, seen it on TV. People can tell you. But you have to be hands-on to get the full effect, to really understand the devastation, the sadness of it all.” Tracy brought a film crew with him to make the documentary, “3 Points” about his trip and to get the word out. He is fully committed to do everything he can to help the crisis.
Tracy and his wife CleRenda Harris have two daughters, Layla Clarice and Laycee Aloe, and one son Laymen Lamar.
Tracy’s younger brother Chance McGrady plays for the Memphis Tigers basketball team who reached the 2008 NCAA Finals Championship game.