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NBA Forward Mario West Defied

NBA Forward Mario West Defied Odds to Walk on with Georgia Tech and Atlanta Hawks

Custodians practically have to scrape pieces of Atlanta Hawks forward Mario West off the court in Philips Arena after every game. That’s because the man virtually sheds his skin every time he peels off his warm-ups and dives into the throes of NBA action. West’ development of that heat-seeking-missile mentality helped the former Douglas County, Ga., prep Player of the Year complete the rarest of feats: He managed to walk on at a major Division I college at Georgia Tech as well as with the Hawks.

West says the key to going after your dreams, even as haters spit verbal darts into your back, is to perform like your days on earth are numbered.

“I consider myself a modern-day Rudy,” West, a movie buff, says of the movie of the same name. “It’s a thing where someone is giving it all he’s got. I approach the game with an all-out mentality. I’m going to pretty much give it my all until I pretty much pass out,” he adds, his eyes blazing with the same intensity he used to fuel his rise from obscurity to the chartered-flight, five-star life of the NBA. “I don’t take anything for granted. I don’t care if I’m going against Shaq or if I’m going against D-Wade, I’m going to go up with the same approach. I’m going to try to make it tough for them and give my team the best that I have.”

West admits it was a jolt to not attract a nibble from storied college programs. “It was very humbling. And the thing about it is that my parents worked so hard and supported me so much that I didn’t want them to come out [of] pocket to pay for me to go to school,” he says. Wells therefore strapped on his mental armor he acquired from his playground days. He turned tryout practices at Georgia Tech into warzones. Wells would drape himself tighter to his teammates than their own jerseys.

Because West performed like he’s hooked up to an electrical outlet — raging and relentless — he made his dream come true — again. After college, the NBA didn’t draft West, he had to walk on, again — this time with the Atlanta Hawks. “I just continued to improve the following years and it propelled me to getting a tryout with the Hawks. Also, coach Woodson just took me under [his] wing, and the local support I got from being a local guy is just tremendous.” –terry shropshire