To make it to the NBA, one has to put in a to of hard work in order to put themselves in that position to succeed. That means putting in tons of hours in the gym as well as making sacrifices in order to ensure that their success is at the forefront of their everyday lives.
Combine all of that with adversity such as being homeless, being hungry, and not receiving any college scholarship offers, well, it makes that journey to the NBA that much tougher.
That is what new Philadelphia 76ers addition Trevelin Queen had to go through as he battled through all of that in order to be in a position to succeed with the Sixers.
Queen sat down with Sixers Wire and discusses his arduous journey to the NBA, his time in the G League, and his fit with the Sixers.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: I've read your story, but could you tell me the ins and outs of your journey?
Trevelin Queen: I was probably homeless for about a week and I was in like the rough part of Oakland. I went from like…hopes of being on a full scholarship, being comfortable playing basketball to homeless within a few days to moving to East Oakland, like in the trenches. East Oakland isn't the prettiest city in the world, you know what I mean? So like, I'm homeless out there. It's like crackheads, robberies, and everything going on day by day. So it's like, I'm trying to figure out how I'm gonna eat and go to school and but I'm worried about this too. Like, I thought I'm going here for school. So I think the biggest part of the lesson I learned was like, 'Do I really want to play basketball? Do I really love this game? Do I really want to stay here, go through this so I can just go home and be comfortable and be good?' It was right around the same time I lost my grandmother and she always told me a very important Bible quote is 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' So I feel like if I can do all things to Him, I can get through this no matter what. As long as I believe in Him and believe in myself and my journey. So I think my love of the game and a love of my reason why is what helped me get through it, which was my family, trying to make it to the NBA, and my grandma, like everything that I worked for my whole life came down to do I really want to do this? Or do I really want to go home and give up, I was like, I can't give up no matter what because I know my purpose is bigger than me. So I feel like making the NBA like it was like a whole relief of stress like 1000 pounds lifted off my shoulders, but like getting to the NBA I'm like, 'Oh, (expletive), I gotta get back to more work! Even harder work now.' The biggest thing is you can get to the NBA. It's hard to get to the NBA, it's harder to stay in the NBA. I feel like that's my goal now is to stay in the NBA and I play if I can go through all that in my life, my journey to get there, I can still get through the NBA. One of the best lifestyles ever. I can get through that, too.
Q: Tell me about your path before New Mexico State. You had to battle through playing through playing at junior colleges, right?
TQ: I was always under the radar. I never played on a high-performing AAU team. I wasn't on the AAU circuit so I wasn't really recruited for that. I didn't go to like no major high school. I didn't have the cameras around, didn't have the coaches, the people to have the connections, you know what I mean? It was just me and my mom and my dad signing me up for like local events. I started out not playing high school basketball much, ended up going to junior colleges around Maryland. Transferring there, I went to another JUCO in California, that was when I went homeless. I left there, I went to New Mexico Military School, which was like probably the best thing that happened to me going to military school. That taught me a lot of discipline. It helped me appreciate the small things you know what I'm saying? Wake up in the morning, have a routine, get your day started good. It helped with like a lot of mental stuff, you know what I mean? Having to go through all that. And then I was probably like one of the top five JUCO players in the country by then. So I was getting like highly recruited by like Western Kentucky, Colorado State, Oklahoma State, New Mexico state. A few other schools but, I just found comfort at Western Kentucky. I went there, I knocked heads with the coaches a little bit so I wasn't really comfortable there, and then I did a little background search on New Mexico State I was like, 'Oh snap. Everybody's from JUCO, everybody's from lower-level schools. So we all have the same familiar background. Let me try this school out.' I went there and I ended up becoming the best version of myself I could possibly be on the basketball court and I give all praise to coach Chris Jans. I praise him for that and I appreciate him for that.
Q: When you got a two-way opportunity with the Rockets, when you finally got that, what did that represent for you?
Trevelin answers three questions in one long answer.
TQ: For me, I don't really get satisfied off of the pen-to-paper stuff, like the contracts that are there. For me, I'm in for longevity. I want a long career. I want an NBA championship. I don't care about the money. I don't care about nothing like that. So I wasn't really satisfied on the fact that I got a two-way contract where I know my worth is more than that, but I was also shocked like 'Oh my God, it's an NBA contract.' You know, emotions, tears came out when I told the fam and everybody like that. So that was amazing. That was a blessing, but like for me, I'm in for a bigger picture. Like I'm trying to have that 10-year pension. I'm trying to take care of the family, make sure they're good for life. I want the championships. I want to be in the history books. I don't want to be one that's in and out. So you got a little bit of money, a little bit of contract, so for me, it was just like, 'Okay, if I can get a two-way, I get a two-year. If I get a two-year, I can get a max contract. If I get a max contract, I can make it to the Hall of Fame. If I'll be in the Hall of Fame, I can be in it for the rest of my life. My last name, Queen, will ring bells forever, you know I mean? So, for me, it's always been about the longevity of it. Trying to get more than what I'm at right now. Like I said, when I got the two-way, I was like 'Okay, I know if I get a two-way from them, I can get a few years out of them.' So, for me, it's always pushing to strive for the next thing.
Queen talks about his time with the Lakers and the Rockets
TQ: So, first I was with the Rockets, undrafted to the Rockets, went to the G League with the Vipers, didn't do didn't really play that much, ended up going to summer league with the Lakers that year, ended up earning a training camp deal, got waived from the Lakers and I was like 'Okay, what am I gonna do now?' But the Viper still had my rights. So you see what I did this year with the Vipers, I had the opportunity of a lifetime and I appreciate Mahmoud (Abdelfattah) and the whole Vipers organization for giving me the opportunity to display what I can do. As you can see, I won the MVP, won the G League championship, did all the accolades, and it was just a blessing season for me and I'm forever grateful. I ended up getting waived from the Rockets, and I'm like, 'Oh snap. I thought I was gonna get like, they would show me some type of love.' I had been with them for two years, I put the work in with them for two years, I was comfortable there and then, you know the business goes.
Queen then goes into finding out he was joining the Sixers
TQ: I ended up going on a cruise after the season. I didn't have no service for about a week, week and a half, and I told my agent man, whatever you get, sign it. I will work for something better. I will work, I will work, I will work and I ended up getting out the cruise to 1000s of missed calls from my agent. I call my agent and he's like, 'Hey, we got to deal with the 76ers. You want me to finalize it?' I said 'Hell yeah, finalize that deal. I'm ready. I'm ready to work. I don't care if it's two years, non-guaranteed, nothing. I'm ready to work to get to the max contract or whatever it is that's next.' So it was all just a blessing in disguise, man honestly. I wouldn't trade none of it for nothing.
Q: You have to have a pretty strong relationship with your agent to trust him with such a big decision like that. Can you touch on that?
TQ: I come from JUCO, lower-level, and my agency didn't really have no big name sign to it. So when I signed to them, I was like, 'Okay, I want to help you guys build up your name just as much as I want to build up my name.' So at first, it's like 'Okay, I believe in you guys this much. I've been with you guys for two years. You got me a two-way deal. I know you guys can give me something that's better than a two-way deal if I just put it into your hands. So I was like, Man, I trust you guys. I know you guys will make the right decisions for me.' So they did. I feel like they made the best decision for me. I got a two-year deal, good amount of money guaranteed for the next year, and then with a great organization. I'm with All-Stars now with a championship contending team rather than a rebuilding team. So I feel like I'm more comfortable and I can mature more with the organization I'm with now and I felt they made the right decision in doing that for me. I'm forever grateful for them.
Q: What is it about the Sixers that you like this fit for yourself?
TQ: Because they got a lot of dogs on their team. They got a lot of people that's not really worried about the paparazzi or the fame or their looks or anything like that. They all get down and get it out the mud and I feel like, not just the players, the fans. Like if you don't show up, they boo you and I like that type of (expletive). I like that. I love that type of stuff. I like that dog mentality, city type (expletive), like, if you don't show up, they on you, but if you show up they love you. For me, I just take that as a competition for me. Like, I'm gonna prove you guys wrong. That you made the right decision. I feel like I can fit in with the team being tough-nosed and hard and stuff like that.
Q: For the fans who don't know about your game, what are you bringing to the team?
TQ: Great energy. I feel like I can run the wings really well, I can defend all levels. I can defend the 1-through-3. I know I can defend the 1-through-3 at a high level. I bring great energy. I bring good vibes. I'm a great teammate on the bench, on the court. I show love to the fans. I'm just as happy for the next person as myself. If my teammate makes a dunk or a play, I'm just as happy as if I did it, you know what I mean? So I feel like I bring a good energy and good vibes to the organization and the fans in the city.
Q: I just want to real quick go back to when you made your NBA debut. You finally throw on a jersey and get in an NBA game. Just walk me through that moment.
TQ: It was like a surreal moment. At first, before I even get on the court, like I'm sitting on the bench just looking around, taking like a deep breath, like 'God damn all these people here to watch me. I'm on ESPN. Like, this is really happening.' So, I got on the court. I was doing like a deep breath like I have extreme anxiety like I'm like 'Bro, I cannot mess up. I cannot mess up. I cannot mess up.' Then, I got a couple of dribbles and I was like, 'Oh man, I do this. I do this. Like, I'm here for a reason.' I always have butterflies and anxiousness before a game, I touch a basketball when the game starts and I'm like 'Oh, this is nothing. It's just like playing in the backyard. It's just at a higher level', you know what I mean? So, for me, it was like a roller coaster of emotion and I couldn't really put it into words. It was like a surreal moment to put that jersey on to play in front of people.
Q: Going back to your days with the Vipers. What was that at a "I'm coming" type of moment for you?
TQ: For me. I'm day by day, man. I didn't I was gonna win MVP. I didn't know I was gonna win defensive player, First team, I didn't know none of this stuff. I was just going day by day trying to win every game I could possibly play. I was just doing it for my teammates, for myself. For me, I just wanna win a championship, bruh. I don't care about the accolades. I don't care about the money. I just wanna win an NBA championship and hold that (expletive) trophy up and see that confetti come down. That's all I care about. I don't give a (expletive) if they sign me to a 10-year deal for $1,000. I just want to win a championship. That's all I care about. You can't take none of this with you. I can't take none of the money with me. I can't take none of that with me, but I know once I'm gone, and they look up the 76ers championship team, and on there, I'm solidified in history, you know what I mean? That's the biggest thing for me.
Q: You played with the Sixers in the summer league. Did that give you an idea of how things are run in Philly?
TQ: It gave me kind of the idea of m the basics of how they want to play, how they would expect me. For me, I was coming fresh off a cruise straight to high-level basketball. I'm not trying to play so bad, but I don't want to also force it and like mess something up in my body. I'm learning a new system, new players, new coaches so there was a lot going on for me, but I feel like I fit in as a great teammate, as a great person. So I feel like I did that high level for them, but as far as performance, how they probably wanted me to perform, I probably didn't. I came into a new role, but it was a great experience, honestly. I got comfortable with a few players so I feel like it was a pretty good experience overall.
Q: Did you play any other sports growing up?
TQ: I grew up playing football, basketball, baseball, and honestly, up until like, junior, sophomore junior high school, I was better at baseball than basketball my whole life. Like I was better at baseball by far, not even close, than basketball, but I was like (expletive), I grew like four inches, became 6-foot-5, 6-foot-4, I was like I might as well go to basketball. Baseball didn't work out for me in high school. It was a lot of going on. I was like, (expletive) it, let me transfer over for basketball. I'm not going to football is too physical. I'm skinny as hell. Hell, naw. I'll just go to basketball and it worked out for me.
Sixers Wire: So if you weren't playing basketball, would you be playing baseball right now?
SW: What position did you play?
SW: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
TQ: Growing up? Derek Jeter. Not even close.
SW: I'm a Miguel Cabrera guy, myself.
TQ: Oh, that's valid!
Q: What message do you have for younger players who are trying to make it?
TQ: I just tell them, you got to have a reason why, you know I'm saying? Your purpose can't be just you. You got to have a reason why. It has to be bigger than us because once you get to where you're going, you're gonna get stuck, and you're gonna get satisfied. You're not gonna have the motivation to keep going. I'll also tell people it's okay to be uncomfortable to a certain extent until you find that comfortability. Like, gotta be comfortable being uncomfortable because no matter where you go, you might not like all the coaches. You might not like all the players, but you got to be willing to find your inner peace to balance all those out. So you perform at a high level that you need to perform at so you can take care of those reasons why. You can take care of your family. You can take care of yourself. It's cool to not be cool. Like for me, I didn't grow up with the best shoes, I didn't grow up with the best clothing and the best nothing, honestly. I grew up with flea market clothes. I grew up holes in shirts type of (expletive), still with my older brother. I sacrifice all that to be in the gym for eight hours a day instead of going out partying. I sacrifice that for walking six miles to the outdoor court with no water and now look at me now. So I sacrificed a lot of hanging out, being cool for the NBA and I feel like it was all worth it. Honestly.
Trevelin, I appreciate you, man. For real. Thank you. Thank you for doing this with me. I appreciate you.
TQ: Of course man. It's all love, man. Appreciate you taking the time to have me on
Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire