Paul Pierce was a McDonalds All-American And California Gatorade Player of the Year (Instagram Photo)

Paul Pierce, also known as “The Truth,” built a prominent basketball career by matching his talent with a strong work ethic. Born in Oakland and raised in Inglewood, CA, Pierce took an interest to basketball from watching the Showtime Lakers battle the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

In his youth, Pierce participated in the Police Activity League; Inglewood police detective Scott Collins became his mentor. The Police Activity League had organized competition for different sports; Pierce competed in basketball, volleyball, and bowling for the organization.

Pierce and his two older brothers, Jamal and Stephen, had a passion for sports. Jamal earned a college scholarship for basketball and Stephan earned a scholarship in baseball.

Pierce attended Inglewood high school but was cut from the varsity team in the ninth grade because he was undersized. He continued to work and was able to prove himself worthy of the varsity squad. The Sentinels were competing in a holiday tournament and head coach Patrick Roy was short on players, causing him to leave Pierce on the Varsity roster.

“We were down 18, 19 points in the second half. So late in the third quarter, I decided to put Paul in to give him some time, since I didn’t think we’d be able to come back,” Roy said. “But as soon as I put him in, he just took over. I think he scored like 21 points, had nine rebounds, six assists. He just took that whole game over.”

As a junior, he helped the Sentinels get 30 wins and clinch a division title. During the 1994-1995 season, Pierce became the California Gatorade Player of the Year. He Also became a McDonalds All-American and participated in their slam dunk contest, losing to Vince Carter.

Pierce then attended the University of Kansas and played for the Jayhawks men’s basketball team from 1995-1998. During his freshman season, he averaged 11 points per game and shot at 41 percent. His efforts got him Big Eight co-Freshman of the Year honors along with Chauncey Billups.

During the 1996-1997 season, Pierce aided the Jayhawks to a 22-0 winning streak; this gave them a no.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Pierce won two consecutive Big 12 Conference Tournament MVP awards.

The Boston Celtics chose Pierce 10th overall in the 1998 Draft and took his first trip to the NBA Playoffs in 2002. This would be the first of 10 Playoffs trips Pierce led the Celtics to.

During his rookie season, Pierce averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. By his third season, Pierce improved to 25.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. In that season, Pierce handed the Lakers a tough loss. Because of that game, NBA hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal gave Pierce the nickname “The Truth.”

His gameplay added on to the historic Lakers vs Celtics rivalry when the two teams met during the 2008 NBA Finals. Pierce scored 38 points in game five and ultimately helped the Celtics win the Championship with him winning the NBA Finals MVP.

He would play on the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards before signing with the L.A. Clippers in 2015. He retired from the NBA during the 2016-2017 season.

Pierce soon became an NBA Studio Analyst for ESPN. On July 17, 2017, he signed a one-day contract with the Boston Celtics so he can retire as a Celtic.

Throughout his career, Pierce gave back to Inglewood High School by renovating their weight room and donating resources to their basketball team and students.