We recently had an opportunity to speak to Brooklyn Nets swingman Caris LeVert.
Caris, who is currently preparing for the upcoming NBA season, spoke to us about his busy off-season, and how his unwavering work ethic has gotten him to where he is thus far.
Caris’ interest in fashion also came up in our conversation, as he touched on his passion for clothing, and thoughts on New York fashion.
Check out our full conversation below.
MTS: How has your offseason been going? Have you been able to travel anywhere fun this summer?
LeVert: It’s been going really well; I’ve pretty much been in New York for majority of the time. But I actually took a trip to India a couple months ago with my little brother for a “Basketball Without Borders” event for the NBA. We were coaching young kids in Asia for a week out there, and it was a great experience. I had never been to India before, that was the first time. It’s a lot different but the food was pretty good though.
MTS: That’s amazing. I’m sure you’ve gained a lot of experience and learned a lot while you were out there as well.
LeVert: Oh yea, absolutely. That was a great experience for sure. It’s not anything really like the United States, so it’s definitely a different experience.
MTS: How has New York been for you during the offseason, and how is training going? Were you able to do a lot with your teammates?
LeVert: Pretty much our whole team is here and we’ve been here the whole summer. We have a young team, so the coaches wanted us to train together. We’ve had a pretty good summer, a pretty eventful summer, and I feel like we’ve gotten better as a team for sure.
MTS: I know you mentioned that you’ve spent a lot of time with your teammates this offseason, but can you also talk a little bit about the amount of work that you’ve personally put in behind the scenes perfecting your game?
LeVert: I feel like I put in a lot of work this summer. I feel like it’s going to be a big year for myself, so just preparing for that in every way that I can. [Practicing] good habits off the court, [like] making sure I’m getting the right amount of sleep every night, taking care of my body, and just doing the little things. When you’re a professional athlete, you’re going to put in the work on the court. I think where the great ones set themselves apart is from the work that they do off the court. So I’m trying to minimize distractions and do everything that I can off the court to give myself an advantage.
MTS: I couldn’t agree with you more. Very well said. Do you ever stress how important that is to the team? Are you more of a vocal leader or would you rather lead through your actions?
LeVert: I would say that I’m a little bit of both really. I try to set a good example and lead by example. But when things need to be said, I’m definitely not one to shy back and hold back from things. So I would definitely say that I’m both, whatever is needed.
MTS: That’s a very good trait to have. Just from learning more about you, it seems like you’ve been very resilient throughout your career & life in general. How have you surpassed obstacles that have come your way up to this point? and what keeps you going?
LeVert: For me, I’ve always seen the end goal for myself as, with basketball at least, being the best player that I can be playing in the NBA, at a really high level. So everything that happened along the way was just small obstacles, it was minor to me. I kind of was like, “Okay, this is where I am right now, but I see the end goal and I know that it’s not going to be an easy path.” So just always keeping the end goal in the back of mind, was really big for me.
And growing up, my [parents] always taught me anything that is worth having doesn’t come easy. So I knew it wasn’t going to be easy getting here, especially because in high school I was really under-recruited. Not a lot of schools really knew about me, and I had a late growth spurt like late high school/early college. I knew it was going to be tough from the start, but just always believing in yourself. I always believed in myself all the way through, and it kind of got me through.
MTS: I’m curious about this late growth spurt in college?
LeVert: Well when I was a freshman in high school, I was small. I was like 5’10. By my senior year, I was about 6’4. And then when I went to college, I was 6’4 until my Junior year and sprouted up to 6’7.
MTS: Wow, that’s definitely a major growth spurt, but a great thing. It gives those out there a little hope (haha) and it obviously worked in your favor.
LeVert: It absolutely did.
MTS: What are some things that drive you to help you continue pursuing your dreams?
LeVert: Definitely family. I know how hard my mom worked to give my brother and myself a better opportunity. So I do a lot of what I do for my family. That’s always one of the first things I think about every day when I wake up, one of the first things I think about when I‘m about to play in a game or when I’m about to work out, just a better life for my family for sure.
MTS: Now was it hard to make that adjustment from growing up in a small town in Ohio with your family to now being a public figure in New York?
LeVert: It’s definitely different. I guess Ohio is considered the country to New Yorkers, and I wasn’t aware of that growing up because it was just the way we lived. But it’s definitely a lot different living out here. I don’t even have a car out here in New York. I Uber every day, everywhere and the traffic is crazy every single day, but it’s always something to do. I love it out here, but it’s just a lot different than the Midwest for sure.
MTS: What inspired your passion for art & fashion?
LeVert: I feel like as an athlete or anybody in this industry, everybody is kind of a creative. I feel like all of us are into things, and I’m just into fashion. My dad was a graphic designer, so I guess I just have an eye for things like that. It was just instilled in me at a young age.
In college though, it was a lot different because I didn’t really have the money to buy the things that I wanted. So I always said that when I got some money, I definitely was going to hone in more on the fashion part for sure.
MTS: And how has it worked out for you so far?
LeVert: Good. I feel like I have a good base. I’m making some connections, going to the right events, and things like that. Like you said, it’s New York and definitely the place for it. But I’m still young as well, with a lot of time to do that for sure.
MTS: Absolutely. With New York being one of the most fashionable cities in the world, how has being in New York actually influenced your own personal style?
LeVert: I think it has a lot. I’ve always been into fashion, but being in New York you kind of have to step your game up a little bit more. Everybody is very fashionable and wants to be with the latest trends and things like that. So it’s influenced me a little bit, but like I said I’ve always been into it, it’s probably just enhanced it being out here.
MTS: Who are some of your top influences, either people in the league, on your team or outside of sports?
LeVert: With fashion, I would say A$AP Rocky has very good taste, Pharrell [Williams] & Big Sean.
I really like guys who can wear things that aren’t name brand. Everybody can kind of look good in name brand things. But if you can put together some things like from Urban Outfitters and make it look like it’s Gucci, I think that’s when you can really dress.
photo via @Brooklynnets Instagram