Life story

Devin Cannady shares inspirational life story with local youth on Orlando Magic and Pepsi Stronger Together summer program

ORLANDO- Run your own race.

It’s the life motto of Orlando Magic guard Devin Cannady.

Whether he was overlooked by junior all-star teams, whether he wasn’t drafted into the top college basketball programs in his own backyard, whether he wasn’t drafted, or whether he hurt himself right after receiving his first chance to play in the NBA, the 6-foot-2 Indiana native has always found ways to overcome the obstacles in front of him and achieve his goals.

Cannady had the opportunity to speak about those accomplishments and share his inspirational life story with kids from Central Florida’s Boys and Girls Clubs as part of the Pepsi Stronger Together and Orlando Magic summer program on Monday.

“We had a great program today where the kids were vulnerable and asking questions,” Cannady explained. “I was able to tell my story, share how unique my story was, but how it relates to exactly what everyone is going through.”

For the second year in a row, Pepsi Stronger Together – PepsiCo’s national series of local initiatives and community-friendly programs – has partnered with Magic, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and Close The Gap Foundation (CTG) to organize an eight-week mentorship program for local youth.

“We were so happy that Devin was able to speak today about his journey of perseverance and how he overcame adversity,” said Elisa Baker, Senior Director and Head of Multicultural Brand Communications + Community Engagement for PepsiCo. “He chose the right path to further his education which also helped him achieve his basketball goals. I couldn’t think of a better person or NBA player to be here today. today to talk to our kids about driving for what they want.”

In addition to conveying messages about making good decisions, setting goals and surrounding yourself with the right people, he talked about the different stages of his life journey. After all, nothing has come easy for the 26-year-old, but he has always managed to achieve the unthinkable. And he conveyed this message resoundingly to the approximately 30 children present.

His first story was about being cut from a junior all-star team and having to read all the names of the kids who made the team on Twitter. Instead of being overwhelmed with disappointment and abandoning his goals, he responded by working hard and not only making the team next year, but also becoming this game’s most valuable player.

He then went into detail about his desire to go to Notre Dame or one of the other traditional powerhouses in college basketball, but failed to get drafted by any of them. Instead, he relied on his academic success, went to Princeton University – a prestigious Ivy League school – and developed not just as a player over a career four years old, but also as a man.

While he hoped to hear his name called on draft night, the five-time Ivy League Player of the Week was not drafted. He then fought and fought his way through the G League for three seasons, ultimately helping Lakeland win a championship and be named G League Finals MVP. This success resulted in Cannady receiving a contract with parent club Lakeland.

But shortly into his tenure in Magic, the guard suffered a devastating injury. During a game at the Amway Center against the Indiana Pacers – his hometown team – and with a number of his family members in attendance, Cannady landed awkwardly after contesting a shot and suffered a horrific open bone fracture. the right ankle.

Forced to leave on a stretcher, it was fair to wonder if a player who had to fight so hard to make it to the league would ever be able to overcome that type of injury and come back. But that’s exactly what the determined Cannady was able to accomplish.

“Going through these things shaped me and helped me grow along the way,” he explained. “I don’t think I would be the person I am today without the setbacks, obstacles, (and) struggles. Whether it’s my injury (or) whether it’s been difficult in the G League for the past three years.

On March 31, 2022, less than a year after his injury, Cannady returned to the Magic on a 10-day contract. And after appearing in five games, averaging 10 points per game and shooting 40.5 percent from long range, Cannady was awarded a two-year contract this offseason.

“It was emotional and I didn’t expect it to be,” said Cannady, who said he cried when he heard the news of the contract offer. “I thought I would jump for joy and be extremely happy, which I obviously was, but I think it really hit me, the severity of what I had been through for the last three years, the last ten years. You’re constantly being told, over and over, “you’re not good enough” (and) “you’re too small”, whatever. The injury, specifically. Overcoming that alone and being healthy was so moving. But having the faith and belief of (Magic President of Basketball Operations) Jeff (Weltman) and (General Manager) John (Hammond) and Coach (Jamahl) Mosley, the organization, to give me the one of those fifteen spots and feeling like I’ve earned it and that I’m doing something – my shooting in particular – that can keep me on the court and playing, that gave me a lot of confidence and that was also very rewarding.

It’s just about running your own race.

“I found strength in that sentence, knowing that everyone’s journey is different,” he said. “I’m not the guy who got thirtieth in the draft, let alone one. There are a lot of undrafted guys like me. Many of my mentors in the past have talked about not letting outside noise cloud your judgment, whether it’s making financial decisions, whether in your own career or in your life. So, that’s where “manage your own race” comes from. … It’s been the foundation of my belief system ever since.

Through his work with the Magic, Pepsi Stronger Together, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and the CTG Foundation, it’s a positive message that not only impacts Cannady but others as well.

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