Don’t call him “Danny’s Brother”.
Indiana guard Devonte Green, is, and always will be, much more than an NBA sibling. Devonte is often misunderstood, he is calculated, he is complex, and he has been through much more than the common man would ever understand. He never lived the cookie cutter life that you would expect from a NBA basketball player’s brother. Devonte lived his own life.
When Devonte was only two-years-old, his mom left. It was a shock to him and his brother, but with Devonte being the youngest in the household, it held a different impact.
“I think that affects him, his personality, his security, I think that was a bigger impact on him, because he seemed to always need to be encouraged,” Devonte’s father Daniel Green Sr. said. “I had to be extra supportive with him….You can see it even now. There are times where you have to constantly encourage, encourage, encourage, more than you would normal. Just to let him know that everything is going to be alright.”
From then on, Devonte and his brothers lived in a one parent household in West Babylon, New York. Green Sr., driven to provide for his kids and get them to a college education, was always there. He supported them throughout their basketball journeys, took them to practices and made nine-hour drives to North Carolina to see his oldest son play division one basketball.
He was there, until he couldn’t be.
When Devonte was in the fifth grade, he experienced the unthinkable.
Green Sr. was arrested for allegedly being involved in a $40 million drug ring.
Green Sr. was one of 15 people arrested. Of the 15, he had only ever met one of them — a corrections officer for the state.
“It was tough,” Green Sr. said. “His one main supporter that had always been there got yanked from him. It was tough for him.”
Throughout the entire process, Green Sr. was adamant about his innocence. He was vulnerable as a result of guilt by association and never backed away from that.
After pleading his case and remaining patient, authorities eventually dropped the charges that were originally brought onto to him. They then moved onto adding a conspiracy charge.
Green Sr. was provided the choice of going to trial and risking a potential three-year sentencing, or taking a deal that would credit him for the 18 months already spent in custody during his legal battle and four more months away from his family.
He took the latter, knowing that he needed to find a way to be back with his family as soon as possible.
During the entire process, he never lost touch with his sons. He would call each of them and even reached out to the coaches at UNC to make sure they were looking after his oldest.
With every call to Devonte, Green Sr. tried to give him the same message. He ensured Devonte that it was going to be okay –the same message that finds Devonte now.
“I think it definitely had a big effect, but I don’t regret anything,” Devonte said. “I think everything happens for a reason. So, the fact that that happened helped make me the person I am today.”
The result of that chaotic childhood is a basketball player that wakes up everyday aspiring to silence the doubters.
“Devonte has always had a chip on his shoulder, for whatever reason,” Green Sr. said. “It helps him sometimes, it hurts him sometimes. But, it keeps him competitive I can tell you that… It made him ultra competitive.”
It’s a chip that has been there with him through all of the adversity, and it started with losing the coach that recruited him.
With former Indiana head coach Tom Crean leaving the program, Devonte faced a complete change in what he expected from his college career. With that came the thoughts of transferring from Indiana, but something that his father had always implored on his kids was to never give up on what you started.
“I’ve definitely had thoughts,” Devonte said. “Especially with the coaching change and not knowing what to expect coming in… But, I don’t regret anything because I think everything happens for a reason, and I think I’m here for a reason.”
Devonte’s decision to push past his doubts comes directly from having his father there for him through it all.
“I think the biggest thing with him is always maturity,” Green Sr. said. “You know, he just had to accept what they wanted him to do over there…He was recruited by coach Crean, so he had to learn a new offense, a new defense, and as far as a person he just had to mature. Understand there are just certain things you have to do and don’t give up. He just had to embrace that.”
The change at the helm of Indiana didn’t send Devonte elsewhere, but it did lead to a complex adjustment from both parties. A significant chunk of the past two years has been a back-and-forth learning curve between head coach Archie Miller and Devonte. Both have learned from each other and make changes accordingly. This past season was fueled by that up-and-down dynamic.
“I think Archie does the right thing by him,” Green Sr. said. “He’s trying to teach him…This season was definitely tough on him. He went through an injury period. He was out a couple of games. And that hurt him. Hurt his chemistry. Hurt his rhythm. It would mess with every player…but he overcame and had really nice stretch run at the end of the year, building some momentum for next year. That’s really what I’m looking forward to.”
That final stretch run included seven games of double-digit scoring where Devonte averaged over 15 points per game. It was stretch in which he finally felt comfortable again, as a result of his ability to always seemingly push past adversity.
“Lately I’ve just been going out there and playing without thinking,” Devonte said. “Through the downs, I can always bounce back. I’ve been through a lot of adversity this year with injuries and the suspension and all that, and I just think that I learned that you can bounce back from anything.”
When Devonte feels comfortable, his performances get even better. His comfort zone takes him back to his roots in New York with a level of flare reminiscent of Rucker Park ballers. When he’s playing his style, nothing from his past seems to matter.
Devonte Green on how he and Rob Phinisee are playing more stretches together and complementing one another:
Green: "We're like Batman and Robin right now. We're killing it now."
Reporter: Which one's Batman?
Green: "Alright, we're Batman and Batman."
— Mike Miller (@MikeMillerHT) March 23, 2019
“I tell this to Devonte, ‘It takes a while for a coach to adjust to their players’, and you have to allow them some freedom and allow them some mistakes,” Green Sr. said. “Devonte is one of those players. He’s difficult to coach because he does make difficult shots. Shots that most coaches don’t want you taking, he can actually take and make. It takes a while to find a comfort zone with that as a coach.”
The inspiration behind that flashy play comes directly from his greatest role models in basketball. Devonte grew up watching Rafer Alston and Jamal Crawford. He remembers seeing Alston playing street-ball in the And1 League and being the only And1 player to make it to the NBA. He saw his style work for him and knew he could do the same.
“New York has a strong basketball culture, and I think just growing up in that culture makes you a different player,” Devonte said.
New York’s influence is what pushes Devonte’s confidence to shoot from anywhere on the floor, a mentality that only grows with every make. When he’s hot, there is only one thing on his mind.
“Uhhh shoot again,” Devonte said. “When I actually do get hot. It depends how the game is flowing, but maybe after 2 in a row it’s kind of a heat check. I mean, I could probably take smarter shots when I have a heat check, for sure. But, ya know, it’s a one-of-a-kind feeling, and you feel like you’re not gonna miss.”
Before Indiana fans had a chance to see the flare that comes with Devonte, they just knew one thing: He’s Danny’s brother.
It’s both a blessing and a curse. When Devonte was in the fifth grade, his brothers all relied on Danny to be a leader in the family with their father out of the house. Danny, while playing at UNC, would keep track of his brothers and make sure that house bills were paid.
Now in the NBA, Danny serves as a role model with endless amounts of insight.
“He tells me to stay with it,” Devonte said. “He was a four-year guy at North Carolina, and it took him until his fourth year, where he actually won the NCAA title. So, he just tells me to stay with it. Like, ‘all the things we want will come as long as we work’, and I believe him.”
The advice and support is invaluable, but the curse has and will continue to follow Devonte.
“I think my whole life, especially in high school, I’ve been in his shadow,” Devonte said. “It used to bother me a lot, but I think I’ve overcome it since. Especially after my freshman year here, I think I earned a name for myself a little bit… I think that I had big shoes to fill young. I think that I had a target on my back young. I think it helped and hurt me at the same time.”
"Aren't you Danny Green's little brother?"
Me: Put some respeck on my name!! I ain't gon' say it no mo pic.twitter.com/CxQh2lqBVa
— Devonté Green (@ChefBoyArGreen) April 25, 2016
So, what do you do when you’re in your brother’s shadow? You differentiate yourself.
This past week Devonte received national attention on social media for an unconventional reason. His newfound popularity came from a tattoo on his left arm that reads, “L1, R1, Square, R1, Left, R2, R1, Left, Square, Down, L1, L1.” It’s a cheat code from the video game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”.
“Basically I was just thinking of ideas, I just thought I’m a cheat code in basketball,” Devonte said. “So I was looking up cheat codes. I had to go to San Andreas because that was my favorite GTA game growing up. And I was looking through them, and when I came across unlimited ammo I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s perfect.’”
The blow up on social media was immediate.
he really got the GTA: San Andreas unlimited ammo cheat code tatted on him because he’s a shooter ? pic.twitter.com/hmArElN1ht
— LakeShowYo (@LakeShowYo) March 24, 2019
“It was so weird,” Indiana forward De’Ron Davis said. “Don’t get me started. Oh my god, he’s a cheat code! Well, look at all of my tattoos! My tattoos mean a lot! This one right here I’ve got two eyes. One eye is a human eye and one is a tiger. It’s two beasts in one monster.”
“I think it was clever,” Green Sr. said. “I try to tell the guys to limit their tattoos, but I thought that one was very creative.”
As fun and clever as the cheat code tattoo is, it’s indicative of something more. It’s indicative of a man that is calculated and introspective. Every tattoo on Devonte’s body is calculated. Each tattoo is well thought-out and more meaningful than the last.
He has his cartoon sleeve on his left arm.
“This one right here, it’s Mario,” Green said. “Ya know? Mario and the star. This one is “room for growth” because, you know, when you take it you get bigger. This one is invincibility, but he has the dead eyes because thinking you’re invincible is toxic.”
Then there is the lion on his chest.
“Yea, it’s a lion here,” Devonte said. “One of my first tats actually. I got another one here for my faith. It’s one of my favorites, actually. It’s the acronym JUMP, “Jesus understands my pain”, and I got Jesus tatted, Jesus on the cross from it so this is one of my favorites too.”
Yet, there is a tattoo still to come. A tattoo that will soon honor his father, the one person that was always there for him, even when he couldn’t be.
It’s all calculated. Little meanings and mantras across his body to give him purpose.
“It’s little reminders definitely,” Devonte said. “It helps with confidence. It can help with anything. It just depends how you feel.
It all comes together to create who Devonte is. His past has pushed him to be the person he is. A calculated, often misunderstood, flashy Rucker Park baller that is playing the best basketball of his career. A soon-to-be-leader ready to make his mark, make a name for himself, and make his father proud.
Not just Danny’s brother–Not just a human cheat code–Not just #GreenLight
Call him Devonte.