Since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Russell Westbrook has made an impactful difference in the state of Oklahoma, both on and off the court.
Russell Westbrook, III was born on November 12, 1988 in Long Beach, California. He and his brother, Raynard, were raised in the inner city of Los Angeles by their parents, Russell, Jr. and Shannon Westbrook. Russell’s father trained him and Raynard in football and then basketball while Shannon made sure they were equally focused on academics.
Entering Leuzinger High School at just 5 ft 8 in and 140 pounds Russell was not immediately a stand out player and did not start on the school’s varsity basketball team until his junior year. While he did not receive much attention from top basketball schools, he continued to work hard with the support of his family and friends. Russell’s senior year he averaged over 25 points per game and led Leuzinger to a 25-4 record and then graduated with honors and a 3.9 GPA.
In high school is where Russell’s mantra of “Why Not?” was born. Every time he, his friends and his family faced adversity instead of being defeated they asked themselves, “Why Not?” and worked even harder.
Russell was offered a scholarship to UCLA and was able to further his education and continue to play basketball in his hometown of Los Angeles. During his time with the Bruins they went to back-to-back Final Fours and he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore.
After two years at UCLA Russell opted to leave school and pursue a professional career. Many thought this was the wrong decision but Russell believed in himself and “Why Not?” He was selected fourth overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2008 NBA draft, which became the Oklahoma City Thunder shortly thereafter.
Since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell has been named a seven-time NBA All-Star, won two scoring titles, two NBA All-Star game MVP awards, and was named the NBA MVP for the 2016-2017 season.
Russell is just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for and season, along with Oscar Robertson, and he did so twice in both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.
Russell’s accomplishments go far beyond the basketball court as he started the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation in 2012. His foundation is dedicated to inspiring the lives of children, empowering them to ask “Why not?” and teaching them to never give up.
Giving back to his community is important to Russell and he was recognized for his philanthropic efforts in 2015 when he received the NBA’s season long Community Assist Award.
In 2015 Russell married his college sweetheart, Nina, who also played basketball at UCLA. Nina is a marriage and family counselor and they have a son, Noah, and twin girls Skye and Jordan.