From skateboards to travesty: The journey of Dennis Schroder

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 24: Dennis Schroder
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 24: Dennis Schroder /

From antics and skateboarding to the brink of NBA stardom, Dennis Schroder has had an unprecedented journey to the Atlanta Hawks.

Dennis Schroder rises from the city of Braunschweig in the country known as Germany, where basketball simply isn’t part of the culture. We know the story of future basketball Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, possibly the most influential and impactful German athlete ever. However, aside from the occasional Detlef Schrempf and Paul Zipser the NBA has had minimal acquaintances of German national players.

Reasoning for this is a unmitigated lack of exposure of basketball to what is Europe’s second largest country. The nation has suffered a nonfulfillment not only of sustaining basketball as part of their culture, but of developing the basketball talent that does reside.

Everywhere in Europe manifestly loves the game of fútbol, but Germany reigns as the powerhouse of the entire world of the sport. Correspondingly, fútbol is the biggest sensation of fandom and the dream of young athletes in Germany. You don’t have high school or college basketball in Germany whereas you do in the United States, and televised basketball games are a rarity for a local German household. That’s simply the culture of the rich nation.

Buried in all of this, you have Dennis Schroder. A young boy living in Germany with little initial aspiration to become a basketball star, similar to his peers. Given this, what all caused Dennis Schroder to walk a deteriorated path to where he stands today?

Believe it or not, Schroder was a complete skateboarding fanatic.

Dennis Schroder
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 26: Dennis Schroder /

Dennis Schroder grew up as an athlete on every essence. He’d spend long hours of the day at local parks. Occasionally shooting a basketball, sometimes kicking a soccer ball around, but mainly skating up past the sunset. A daily routine would be Schroder out and about his activities until nearly midnight.

Eventually Liviu Calin, head coach of the German basketball Loewen Braunschweig’s youth program, would come to the parks to recruit talent because that’s what he had to do. Although Schroder had yet to ever play basketball in an indoor facility, he was heavily recruited to play by Calin simply because of the athleticism he possessed.

From there, Schroder became more and more acquainted to the game; just not to the level of full commitment. He would go out and play with his older brothers and kids way older than him, and learned to dominate the competition. The confidence and cockiness we see in Dennis today almost certainly comes from this, as he grew a bumptious attitude.

Schroder would easily climb through the Braunschweig organization and inch closer to playing for the professional club team. However, insubordination ceased Dennis from reaching professional level. Imperiousness and lack of dedication to the game of basketball caused disputes between teammates and coaches, and Schroder often didn’t bother coming to practice.

Dennis Schroder
ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 24: Dennis Schroder /

A certain amount of ignorance and arrogance may have cost Schroder any chance he had at professional basketball, even if it was something that was simply in the back of his mind. It took an unfortunate tragedy, as it does with many of us, to change the landscape of the life of one Dennis Schroder; as his father passed away when he was just 16 years old.

After a moment of travesty, losing the most influential person in his life, Dennis Schroder now had a dedication. He had a will to play the game of basketball for his father, and a new perspective on life as in 2012 he began his first professional season of basketball in Germany.

Seven years after his father’s fatal heart attack, Dennis Schroder is now the face of the Atlanta Hawks. A special inspiration from his father and then the rest of his family, including his mother and four siblings, helped Dennis solidify his mind to do the necessary things to make it to the NBA.

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Coming from a culture that holds basketball to pure irrelevancy, Schroder’s journey to the league shows incredible prevalence and courage. Now as he takes the next steps toward becoming a star in the NBA, he continually looks back at the life he has had and the roots that got him to where he is today; and we along with him can’t help but smile.