The Life and Career of Grant Hill

Grant Hill was on the fast track to stardom. Hill’s career can be summed up in four chapters. He started his career at Duke, then had a great start to his NBA career with the Detroit Pistons. That was followed by a big contract and a string of 7 years with injuries with the Orlando Magic. After he left he Magic he didn’t have many more injury problems and went on to have six solid seasons with the Suns and Clippers. Grant Hill exceeded every expectation given to him.

Grant Hill had parents who were very influential in his life and career. His father, Calvin Hill, went to Yale and was in the same fraternity as President George W. Bush. Calvin Hill played football there and would become a first round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. With the Cowboys he won Rookie of the Year, a Super Bowl, and was named a Pro-Bowler four times. His mother is a graduate of Wellesley College where she shared a suite with Hillary Clinton.

As a star high school basketball player, Grant was named to the 1990 McDonald’s All American game for the nation’s best senior players. Grant Hill then went to college at Duke where he would have one of the best careers in college basketball history. As a freshman and sophomore in 1991 and 1992, Hill helped guide Duke to National Championships. However, he was not the star of the team yet. That role belonged to Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley. In the 1992 Elite Eight against Kentucky, Duke was down one with 2.1 seconds to play. Hill was in bounding from the other side of the floor and football passed it to Christian Laettner who caught it at the free throw line, dribbled and took potentially the greatest shot of all time as he made the game winner and ran across the floor sending Duke to the Final Four.

As a Junior, Hill and Bobby Hurley were the stars. Hill averaged 18 points per game that season. Unfortunately, Duke lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Although they lost early, Hill won National Defensive Player of the Year which led to a lot of optimism for Duke the next season. In his Senior year, Hill led Duke back to that National Championship game. The 1994 title game was very good, Arkansas and their “40 Minutes of Hell Defense” proved to be too much for the whole country as they cruised through the NCAA Tournament and beat Duke 76-72 in the Finals. During his senior year, Hill again won Defensive Player of the Year. He also was named ACC Player of the Year and was a First Team All American. Duke quickly retired his number 33.

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The Detroit Pistons took Grant Hill 3rd overall in the 1994 NBA Draft. Hill lived up to the hype. His rookie season he averaged 19.9 points per game and was named Co-Rookie of the Year along with Jason Kidd who was taken 2nd overall. Hill led the NBA in All Star votes during his rookie season which was the first time a rookie had the most. In Hill’s six seasons in Detroit he was voted Second Team All-NBA four times, he was voted to the First Team once, in 1997, and in 1996 he was one of the players chosen to represent Team USA in the Olympics that went on to win the Gold Medal. In his last year with the Pistons, Hill scored 25.8 points per game which made him a major player in free agency that summer. During his time in Detroit he picked up endorsements from McDonalds, Tag Heuer and shoe company Fila. The contract with Fila was worth more than 90 million dollars. Later in his career he would sign with Nike and Adidas.

Following the six strong seasons for the Pistons, Hill moved on to Orlando on a seven year contract worth more than 90 million dollars. His time in Orlando was a trainwreck. Originally, Orlando thought that Hill and Tracy McGrady would be able to team up and make the Magic contenders. Because of ankle injuries Hill only played in four games his first year, 14 games his second year, 29 in his third year, and he missed every game in his 4th year. In his 5th year Hill played in 67 games and averaged 19.7 points per game, which was by far his best year in Orlando. It is amazing that he missed so much time and still be able to comeback and average more than 19 points a game. Year six was unfortunate, he only played in 21 games because of a groin injury. But his 7th and final year in Orlando was a lot better, he appeared in 65 games and averaged 14.4 points per game. Overall, his time in Orlando was rough for Grant Hill and for the Magic. Hill had to go through numerous surgeries, and the Magic went through more than 90 million in order to pay for him.

After Orlando, Grant Hill went to Phoenix for much less money, which is ironic because he was able to play in almost every game for the Suns. He played in 70, 82, 81, 80 and 49 games respectively in his five years there. Although he didn’t put up monster numbers in Phoenix, he was very consistent averaging at least 13 points per game all five seasons. For someone in their mid 30’s coming off many major surgeries, that number is remarkable.

The 2012-2013 NBA season was Hill’s last. Playing for the Clippers, he once again fought injuries and averaged 7.7 points per game as a role player. His final performance came in the playoffs where Hill scored four points.

In his career, Hill made roughly 140 million in salary and another 125 million in endorsement money. Few players have made more money than that. Grant Hill now will spend his time working with his various charities as well as spending more time with his family. In 18 NBA seasons, Hill averaged 16.7 points per game. Hill was known as a very tough player who would draw fouls. Five different seasons he was in the top five for most free throws made. He appeared in seven All Star Games as well. Six of them were with the Pistons and his final one came with the Magic in 2005. Grant Hill had a great career and if he hadn’t been injured he might have been one of the top players in NBA history.


You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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