Growing Up ... Kevin Love

A lot of us have had similar upbringings to the Cavaliers we’ve featured in the “Growing Up … “ series over the years. But we’re willing to bet that none of us grew up with a father who played in the NBA and an uncle whose band sold 100 million records worldwide.

That’s not to say that Kevin Love – whose father, Stan, played for the Lakers, Bullets and Spurs and whose uncle, Mike, played guitar, sax and harmonica for the Beach Boys – got any breaks or took any shortcuts. As a youngster, he worked hard and honed his game. And by the time he hit high school, he was primed to become one of the greatest players in Oregon prep history.

Playing for Lake Oswego High School, he averaged 25.3 points and 15.4 boards as a sophomore, 28.0 and 16.1 as a junior and 33.9 and 17.0 as a senior – leading his team to three straight state title games.

As a collegian at UCLA and in his six years with the Timberwolves before being traded to Cleveland this summer, Love’s numbers are numbing. Last season alone, he became the first player in NBA history to total at least 2,000 points, 900 boards and 100 made threes. He led the league in double-doubles (65), defensive rebounding (9.6) and amount of games (24) in which he registered at least 20 points, 10 boards and five assists

Three years ago, he recorded 53 straight double-doubles and over the course of his half-dozen years in the Twin Cities, the Santa Monica native has averaged 19.2 points, 12.2 boards and 2.5 assists per contest.

In today’s installment of “Growing Up …” we take a look at how Kevin Love went from a skinny kid in Oregon to one of the most versatile stars in the NBA. (And if you leave this article imagining the possibilities of Kevin Love at quarterback slinging passes to LeBron James at wide receiver, you’re probably not alone …)

I was born in … Santa Monica, but grew up in Oregon.

I have a … younger sister, Emily, who is 20 and an older brother, Colin, who’s 28. And they’re both pretty athletic.

My sister was … a preemie baby, so she had some complications growing up, but she’s grown to be a beautiful young woman.

And my brother … is probably 6-2, 6-3. He didn’t get quite the height that I did, but he played basketball in high school and also ran track. But he didn’t go on to play in college.

My whole family is … very athletic. What people don’t know is that my aunt on my mother’s side, Kathleen Hearst, had won the Ironman World Championship in 1982 in Kona. My dad and I always laugh when we’re asked about who’s the best athlete in the family. It’s my Aunt Kathy!

The only other sport … I played in school was baseball.

Baseball was really … my second love. And I tell everybody: Had I been left-handed, I might not be playing basketball and suiting up in the Wine and Gold today.

I always wanted to play … football. I wanted to be a quarterback because I thought – at my size and with the way I throw the outlet – I’d be able to do some damage out there. I have decent footwork, I’m deceptively quick and I could maybe make some stuff happen on the run as well.

So I always enjoyed … and wanted to play other sports. But my dad would take me on the court, point at the lane and say: ‘That’s your football field.’

I didn’t quite understand the … the big deal behind the Beach Boys until I got to southern California and realized that it was a VERY big deal – even for people my age and my demographic.

When I got to UCLA … in 2007, a couple weeks after I graduated high school, people came up to me and said: “Wow, your uncle is Mike Love of the Beach Boys! It was always: ‘The Beach Boys! The Beach Boys!’ It wasn’t anything about the fact that I was going to be on the men’s basketball team. I thought: ‘This is crazy! This is UCLA – the most storied program of all-time!!’

It was really interesting … to see how people reacted to that. Because to me, he was just ‘Uncle Mike.’ My Aunt Jackie was there. My cousin, Brian, my cousin, Ambha. They were just family to me – just always down to earth and cool.

We’d go over there … every Christmas, I’d see him a few times throughout the year. We’d go see his concerts, I understood that. But I didn’t realize how big the Beach Boys thing was until I got down to Southern California.

I didn’t get any of … the musical talent from that side of the family.

But I always wanted to … get into piano and guitar. Growing up, my sister played a little bit. And my brother, he can sing – he has a great voice. But you definitely don’t want to hear my voice.

I knew early-on that … I wanted to play in the NBA.

It’s funny, but I was always a … confident and self-assured kid. I wasn’t cocky by any means, but my dad my had always told me that if I had the work ethic and if I listened and was coachable and always treated people with respect and integrity that I’d be able to make it. And I took that to heart.

Like any young person … I had my moments. But I felt that from as early as I can remember telling people that I would make it to the NBA. So I wasn’t shy about letting people know.

Each different coach has a … different impact on your life. But for me, I would say my dad was my best coach, first of all. He put the ball in my hands and taught me so much when I was young.

And my best friends … in the whole world, the Spadas, they taught me the work ethic. So between my family and the Spada family, I would say those were the best coaches I ever had.

Growing up, I was always … the tallest kid in my class.

My biggest growth spurt was probably … from 6th grade through 8th grade. I went from 6-1 to 6-3 to 6-4. It was gradual, but then in high school, it kind of stopped after, maybe my junior or senior year. And then I just sort of leveled off.

Of course I remember … my first dunk. I was in seventh grade and it was at a place called “The Hoop” in Beaverton, Oregon.

That day, it was only … me and my buddy, Ernie Spada – of the Spada family. I was working with him; he eventually was my point guard throughout high school.

I just went up there … and I dunked it. And I acted like I’d ‘been there before’ – which is pretty strange considering I’d just dunked for the first time.

But I also remember … when I first dunked in a game. It was maybe a few months after that.

On that one … I thought I blacked out. I didn’t know what was going on – the white lights popping, the whole deal!

It was … right before halftime of a game, I think, in San Bernardino. We had a tournament out there and I got my first dunk. It was right before halftime and it completely fazed me. I didn’t know what happened!

Right after the game … I called my dad and said: ‘Hey I got my first dunk in a game!’ And that was a pretty cool moment for me.