By: Talia Bargil
Nobody is more grateful than Shaun Livingston himself to be back on the hardwood every night, healthy and contributing to his team.
Plagued by a nearly career-ending knee injury that sidelined the Milwaukee Bucks guard for a good portion of his NBA career, he has since fought to prove that he can, in fact, live up to his once talked about potential. After moving around to a number of teams, Livingston seems to have found his flow in Milwaukee.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to play and showcase what I can do between the lines. That’s what it’s all about,” said Livingston. “I’m working on consistency, staying solid and dependable. That’s the key for me…I think that’s every pro’s key.”
With the versatility to play both guard positions and small forward, Livingston, drafted fourth overall in the 2004 NBA Draft, has stepped up as a starter 11 times this season and continues to capitalize on his playing time – without compromising his knee.
At just 26 years old, the Peoria, Ill., native who made the leap from high school phenom directly to the NBA, has grown up quickly, particularly after getting thrust into the limelight as one of the most sought-after high school prospects.
“I knew the responsibility and burden that was placed on me as a 19-year-old rookie in Los Angeles, but it helped me stay grounded too,” he said. “Fortunately, I had a good, solid group of people around me, so I really focused on my job.”
And now he is paying it forward by sharing his own experiences with Bucks rookie Tobias Harris.
“Of course Tobias has to get my bags and everything, but I also look out for him and try to take care of him,” says a chuckling Livingston. “You step into the league making this type of money, and a lot of responsibility comes with that. Tobias is pretty grounded, but some rookies come into the lifestyle and it can be a little fast. If your focus is not on the game, then you can get sidetracked, which can affect your job…and this is a job, as we saw during the lockout.”
And after his early career reminder that the NBA experience is not one to take for granted, it’s no wonder Livingston is open to sharing his knowledge.
“When you come into the league, especially at a young age, it’s like a tornado. Everything happens so fast that you aren’t necessarily taking a step back to look at it from the outside in,” he said. “You’re not going to know everything and will need sound advice from good people, and I’m not talking about ‘yes’ men.”
Leading by example, Livingston is doing all the right things, on and off the court.
“I think I’ll probably go back to school, I want to take classes. I participated in the Union’s broadcast program [Sportscaster U.], and I might do the coaching program this year. I’m taking advantage of the opportunities and really seeing where it takes me.”
A mature leader with the determination to succeed, Livingston continues to prove that he is right where he belongs – in the NBA.
And if his performance this year is any indication, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.