Like mother, like son: NBA star and Chicago native Patrick Beverley never stops fighting

Beverley might not be playing on All-Star Sunday, but his relentlessness — which runs in the family — is helping to fuel the Clippers’ championship quest.

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Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

Chicago’s own Patrick Beverley, heartbeat of the heavyweight Clippers.

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Nineteen days before Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley was born, his mother walked across the stage at her high school graduation and received her diploma.

Lisa Beverley was voluminous with child beneath a flowing, myrtle green robe that might as well have been stitched from wool.

“It was so hot,” she recalled Saturday at the United Center, where her son, now 31, participated in the All-Star Skills Challenge.

It was practically July — June 23, 1988, to be exact — due to a four-week Chicago Teachers Union strike at the beginning of the school year that had bumped everything back.

In the north end zone of the football stadium at Lane Tech, a pregnant 18-year-old climbed that stage with a megawatt smile. She was bold. She was determined. She was fearless.

She damn sure wasn’t apologizing to anybody.

“I had to graduate,” she said. “There was no choice. I wasn’t going to be a statistic. No way.”

She was a sight to behold. I know this because I was there. When the roll call got to the “Gs,” I graduated with her.

One of us soon left for college. My classmate was already hitting life a lot more head-on.

“She comes from these same streets where it wasn’t too pleasant,” her son said Friday as he was on the way for a visit at his own alma mater.

That would be Marshall — two miles west of the United Center — where the undersized Beverley, who even now is only 6-1 and 180 pounds, averaged a bold, determined, fearless 37.3 points as a senior in 2005-06.

Nothing was ever easy for the Beverleys. Patrick’s father wasn’t in his life. His mom always worked multiple jobs. The Golden Dome gym in Garfield Park was his second home.

“We weren’t blessed with the things that we have now,” he said. “So the dynamic for her is totally different. She has seen both ends. For her to come out here and be here and have fun, experience this whole [All-Star] weekend with me, it’s definitely the best.”

Beverley might not be quite as tough as his mom, but this is one of the NBA’s most willful, self-made players. Academic troubles knocked him out of college ball after two outstanding seasons at Arkansas, and it took playing professionally in three countries — the Ukraine, Greece and Russia — before he got his shot.

Now, he’s known league-wide for possessing a killer combo of bottomless energy, relentless effort, gnarly defense and a generally miserable-to-play-against nature.

Beverley may not be an All-Star, but all the hotshots playing here Sunday know full well Kawhi Leonard and Paul George aren’t the only ones driving the Clippers’ title chances.

“Pat’s energy, his will to want to win every game, his toughness — I mean, I’ll take that every day,” Leonard said.

Says his mom, “He never stops. He’s not going to stop.”

There were many points in Beverley’s basketball journey when the very idea that he would sign a three-year, $40 million contract during the 2019 offseason would’ve sounded unbelievable. But it wasn’t money he thought about, anyway, when he would drive past the UC as a high school star, roll down his window and tell himself: “I’ll play here.”

“I have the type of passion that I don’t think a lot of people have,” he said. “If I didn’t get paid to play this game, I’d still play it the exact same way, with as much intensity and as much focus as I play it with now.”

He refers to all of it — the passion, the competitiveness, the relentlessness — as his “powers.” And where does he go to get those powers recharged?

Home, baby.

“Chicago is everything to me,” he said.

It’s where many on the West Side revere him. It’s where students at Marshall hang on his every word.

“Because I’m from where they’re from,” Beverly said. “I look exactly like they look. I’ve come up with the same morals and the same beliefs and disbeliefs that they have growing up. I went through the same struggles. I walked their walk.”

And how does he hope to be viewed by them and by basketball fans throughout the city?

“The real Chicago son who really came from these streets, lived the way that inner-city kids live and has seen the same things that these inner-city kids have seen. I want to be one of these kids look to and [are] like, ‘If he did it, I know I can do it.’ ”

While he’s at it, he wouldn’t mind being the world’s greatest big brother also. A certain former teen mom had a girl, Mya, nine years ago at the age of 40.

“I just look at her like, ‘OK, God has a sense of humor,’ ” Lisa Beverly said.

Her son isn’t the only one with a message for young people. Mom has one, too.

“Just don’t give up,” she said. “It’s tough being a teen mom, but it doesn’t have to define the rest of your life.”

Contributing: Annie Costabile

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