Growing Up ... Manny Harris

They’ve always had talent, but what were the Cavaliers like before they became rich and gigantic and famous?

Cavaliers rookie, Manny Harris, took the hard way to the NBA – working his way through Summer League and Training Camp to make the squad as an undrafted player from Michigan. Back in Detroit, Manny was a high school hoops legend. He was the first player to start for three consecutive Detroit Public School League championship teams since Jalen Rose and Voshon Lenard. He was Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 2007 and once notched 52 points and 15 rebounds.

In today’s Growing Up, the lean rookie two-guard talks about his basketball family, his first dunk and where he got his famous nickname …

I have … 12 brothers and sisters altogether.

Every one of them … played ball. Not everyone pursued it, but they all played. It was more street ball.

My older sister … is pretty good, too. Her name’s Janelle Harris, she played for Marquette University, just graduated.

Nah … she can’t beat me.

The other sport I played … was football. I played wide receiver and safety. I played for about three years. But then I got in high school and started getting pretty good at basketball. And I just let football go.

I picked Michigan … because it was home. I wanted to stay home. Plus, the team was down at the time. And my plans and goals were to put Michigan back on the map, take them to the Tournament, because they hadn’t been there in a long time.

I actually started out … at the point. But I played on teams where I started at the “4” and, on some teams, I probably played center. But that’s how it is growing up – you play everything.

I had my growth spurt … between my 9th and 10th grade year.

My most influential coach was … my high school coach, Coach Derek McDowell.

He gave me a chance … in my 10th grade year. In 9th grade, I was on JV and the next year, he just started me at point guard. I didn’t expect it at first. But he was the guy who gave me a chance.

I’ve had the nickname “Manny” … from when I was born. There was the movie, “Scarface” – and my dad was into it. They named me after Tony Montana’s right hand man, Manolo – who they called “Manny.” And I’ve always been “Manny.”

My first dunk was … actually during one of my JV games in 9th grade. It was my first time ever even trying to dunk. I never even practiced it. You know, sometimes you see people in the gym trying. Nope. I just had a breakaway and I just dunked.

I remember my family was … so surprised. They were all happy! And my teammates went nuts. They’d never seen me do it. I surprised my team. I surprised myself.

Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.