Holiday Joins Pacers Tradition of Sister Influence

Pacers fans have heard this story before. It's the one about a young boy who has a talented older sister who serves as a tutor, mentor, and ego-bruiser on the basketball court, thus serving as an inspiration toward an NBA career.

Reggie Miller can tell that story. So can Paul George. And now comes Aaron Holiday, the first-round draft pick who was introduced to the local media on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Holiday, the 23rd overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft, follows older brothers Justin and Jrue into the NBA, which is where most of the media focus will be. Once Aaron makes his debut with the Pacers next fall, the family will become one of the few to have three brothers who have played in the league.

More than played, really. Justin, 29, was undrafted out of Washington but is coming off the best of his five seasons in the NBA, having averaged 12.2 points while starting all 72 games in which he played for Chicago. Jrue, 28, was a first-round pick of Philadelphia and is coming off the best of his nine seasons in the league, having averaged 19 points for New Orleans.

Don't forget Lauren's influence, though. She was the Division 4A Player of the Year coming out of high school in 2012 and took a scholarship offer from UCLA. A series of head injuries ended her career after 12 games in two seasons, but at 24 she's the closest in age to 21-year-old Aaron.

She and Aaron didn't go one-on-one as often as Reggie did with Cheryl and Paul did with Teiosha, but they guarded one another in the two-on-two battles on the adjustable eight-foot goal in the driveway at the family home with Justin and Jrue.

When they did go up against one another, either in a one-on-one game or as part of a larger game when Aaron was in grade school, he paid the price of being the younger and smaller player.

That's what his father, Shawn, best remembers from the driveway games.

"What I recall is his sister taking it to him," he said Friday. "She was the one who made him tough. The boys were a little older, but she was one who would give it to him in the front yard."

Lauren, now an assistant basketball coach and head track and cross country coach at the siblings' high school, Campbell Hall outside of Los Angeles, downplays her dominance, but does acknowledge a role in Aaron's development.

"Because he was younger, he had a fascination with dunking," Lauren said. "I remember one time...he's made it now, so why not air his business?...one time I dunked on him and his pride was hurt because he's super-competitive. He went to check the ball and threw it at me.

"After that day it got harder and harder to beat him. Something kicked in after that."

"Those games were hard and tough," he said Friday. "It taught me a lot of toughness. (I wasn't able to) win many games, but I still wanted to play. It was fun. I hated losing, but it's a good teaching moment for sure."

An even greater asset for Aaron and his siblings was the approach of his parents. Mother Toya was a standout player at Arizona State and coached Lauren in high school. Father Shawn played at Arizona State for two years and then at Cal-State Los Angeles.

He participated in an NBA Summer League at Loyola-Marymount, but failed to get a tryout with a team. He moved on with life, joining the workforce in a variety of capacities, and began raising children with Toya.

They weren't frustrated athletes living through their children, however. They put on a clinic of athletic parenting, offering opportunities and making it fun without pushing too hard.

"You can't pressure your kids into doing things," he said. "It's tough when you try to live through them because eventually they'll break down and they won't want to do anything. We just allowed them to do what they wanted to do.

"We were more the type if we'd go work out and you're not doing what we tell you, we'll go home. You can do it tomorrow. That hurt worse than yelling at them."

Holiday brings plenty of connections and coincidences to the Pacers. Aside from having two brothers in the NBA, he joins former UCLA teammates TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu on the Pacers' roster, and he'll back up another former UCLA point guard, Darren Collison.

He also shares a link with another player the Pacers took with the 23rd pick. That would be another point guard, Travis Best, in 1995. Best backed up veterans Mark Jackson and Haywoode Workman as a rookie and then moved into the rotation the following season. Holiday likely will back up Collison and Cory Joseph, with a great opportunity to move into the rotation after next season.

Best, by the way, had an older sister who helped advance his career. Darlene, eight years older, was a standout high school player in their hometown of Springfield, Mass, who passed on college basketball opportunities to prepare for a business career.

And now comes Holiday, maintaining club policy.

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