Wardell Stephen “Dell” Curry
Dell Curry was a small-town youngster with big-time dreams. Not only did he want to be the best basketball and baseball player he could become, but he also had a goal to be the best person he could for his family, community, and himself.
Growing up in the rural town of Grottoes, VA, Curry loved being active and being outdoors. He found that team sports appealed to his competitive spirit and his talent on the basketball court and baseball diamond led to state championships for Fort Defiance High School. It also earned him the coveted title of McDonald’s All-American and opened the opportunity to test himself against some of the best players in the country.
“Being from a small town and having to compete with many big city kids during the summer from Chicago, New York, and L.A. was very special to me,” said Curry. “I am very proud of earning that award and I credit my father and high school coach for that.”
His coach had helped Curry develop the fundamental mechanics of a jump shot. And then he gave Curry access to a unique practice facility: a barn with a basketball goal.
“It was just a beat up barn floor with a basket, and I’d go in and shoot for hours upon hours with no interruptions,” Dell said. “The biggest thing was that it didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing, cold, hot, whatever. I could go in and work on my game because I had a key to the barn door.”
Curry’s baseball ability attracted the notice of professional scouts and he was drafted by the Texas Rangers. But it was his basketball skill which drew the interest of multiple coaches. Many arrived at the Curry home with scholarship offers and his parents were strong believers in education.
“I had promised my parents I would go to college and earn my degree,” Curry said.
Enrolling at Virginia Tech, he became a four-year basketball starter and the university’s all-time leader in field goals (1,021) and steals (295) and second all-time leading scorer (2,389 points). He also was a pitcher for the Hokies’ baseball team, drawing yet another major league opportunity when the Baltimore Orioles selected him in the 1985 draft.
But basketball beckoned after Curry graduated in 1986 as Utah selected him 15th overall in the 1986 NBA draft. After one season with the Jazz, and another with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Curry was the first player selected by the new Charlotte Hornets in the 1988 expansion draft. He played 10 years with the Hornets, becoming one of the franchise’s most popular players. He holds 10 Hornets team records, including games played (701), total points (9,839); and field goals (3,951).
While in Charlotte, he established the Dell Curry Foundation to give the youth of Charlotte a chance to receive guidance and skills needed throughout their lives.
Curry retired from the NBA in 2002 but continued to live in Charlotte. He has been a broadcaster for the Hornets since 2009 and he and his wife, Sonya, own and operate the Christian Montessori of Lake Norman in Huntersville.
“Me and my wife support many charities in Charlotte but the Christian Montessori is a big deal for us and most of our resources go into the school” he said. “We are very proud of the school.”
With his playing days behind him, Curry is more often recognized today as the father of his three children, all of whom are accomplished athletes. Both his sons are building their own NBA careers – Stephen with the Golden State Warriors, where he is a two-time league Most Valuable Player, and Seth with the Dallas Mavericks. And daughter Sydel is a starter for Elon University in women’s volleyball, a sport at which her mother excelled at Virginia Tech.
“You know, it makes a father feel really proud when your sons follow in your footsteps,” Curry said. “And then to hear the cheers for your little girl, there’s nothing better.”
While Curry left a remarkable athletic legacy, he prefers to be remembered for his accomplishments away from the court.
“I want to be remembered as someone who was family-oriented, cares about his community and was just a humble, respectable guy.”
Author: Sherae Bonner