O.J. Mayo was supposed to be a NBA star. He averaged 23 points per game as a 7th grader playing for his high school varsity team. As a freshman in high school, he helped a team that had gone 2-18 the previous year to the state championship. And as a sophomore, he became the second sophomore in Ohio history to be named the state’s “Mr. Basketball”. The other sophomore to do this was of course, the one and only LeBron James. And at this point in Mayo’s career, scouts truly believed he was going to an NBA star like LeBron. Some scouts even went as far as calling him the next Michael Jordan with a 3 point shot.
During Mayo’s senior year of high school, the hype only got bigger. He transferred to Huntington High School in West Virginia and was averaging 28 points a game, a McDonald’s All-American, and a state champion. And in the state championship game, O.J. put up an insane triple double, consisting of 41 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, while scouts and the media paid attention to his incredible performances on the court, they also ignored the red flags that O.J. was waiving off. As his fame grew, O.J. began to run into more and more trouble. In his senior season, he was ejected from a game for assaulting a ref and after that season, he was pulled over and cops found pot in his car. After high school, O.J. went on to play for USC, averaging 20 points per game in his single college season. After his freshman season at USC, he entered the 2008 NBA Draft and was taken third by Minnesota, one spot ahead of Russell Westbrook. And with the fifth pick, the Grizzlies took Kevin Love and traded him for O.J. Mayo.
At first, everything seemed like it would be alright. In his rookie season, O.J. Mayo averaged 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on a 24 win Grizzlies team. These were promising numbers, and people thought that maybe, O.J. would grow into the star that scouts projected him to be. But unfortunately, that was not the case. O.J. proceeded to get worse every season, and in his third season, he was averaging just 11.3 points per game on 41% shooting. In that same year, he was suspended 10 games for steroid use. By his fourth season, O.J. seemed like he had given up. He often appeared to be out of shape in games and just did not seem to care.
After the 2016 season, the NBA suspended O.J. for two years after a positive drug test, most likely for the use of hard drugs. And while some may say if he was using hard drugs, then he had this coming, you can’t help but feel sad for O.J. Mayo. Mayo’s personal trainer in high school recalls that O.J. “needed the right people around him growing up”.” People took advantage of O.J. and his fame, and unfortunately he fell down the wrong path.
At the end of the day, basketball stars are just humans, like everyone else. And if they fall in with the wrong crowd, well, we’ve seen what happened with O.J. Mayo.