Steph Curry On Work Ethic, Missing Free Throws, And Raising Resilient Kids
The NBA superstar’s new kids' book comes from a deeply personal place, both as a basketball player and a dad.
Steph Curry makes it look easy. He can hit practically any shot on the basketball court, his Golden State Warriors are crushing it, and his kids Riley (10), Ryan (7), and Canon (4) always look like they’re living a perfect life, cheering on their dad from the stands. But things haven’t always been this good for the four-time NBA champion. Curry may have picked up MVP awards for both the NBA All-Star Game and the NBA Finals last season but he still remembers a time when basketball coaches and recruiters told him he was “too small” to make it.
Curry has taken lessons about perseverance that he’s learned throughout his life and hopes to encourage kids to navigate difficult situations through hard work and a positive attitude in his new children’s book I Have a Superpower. Though not autobiographical, Superpower follows an 8-year-old named Hughes on a journey of self-discovery. Like Curry, Hughes loves playing basketball and has to keep his head up to achieve his goals.
Fatherly recently talked to Curry about what those hard lessons were really like, how he missed a lot of easy free throws as a kid, writing his new book, and what parents actually need to know to keep our own kids resilient.
How did you settle on writing a book that hits on prominent themes from your life but didn't have you as the central character?
Well, my platform allows me to write a book and create fresh inspiration around my story and things that have resonated with me since I started playing basketball. I could have gone the direct route of writing my life story, but I really wanted to have something that resonated with a lot of different people. It's not just about creating the next greatest NBA player. Sports is obviously a conduit for being able to tell a story and to inspire, but I Have A Superpower is about simply believing in yourself and finding what makes you different and what makes you unique. We're trying to impact the next generation by getting them to believe that when you put in the work, anything is possible whether it’s sports or any other profession or industry that you want to pursue.
Superpower really emphasizes hard work and positivity. How do those particular traits inform how you operate as a parent?
My kids all have unique personalities, but there are certain consistent things about their character like their work ethic and their gratitude that will set them up for success in life. Our job as parents is to continue to support whatever they put their minds to. I'm enjoying that part of parenthood because every day is different. There are so many different seasons in life when it comes to watching your kids grow, but that support should always be the foundation.
You’re on the road a lot during the NBA season, and your seasons have stretched longer than most with your team’s success. What are some adjustments that you make when you transition to off-season parenting?
We’re fortunate to have FaceTime when I’m on the road. My dad traveled a lot during his 16 years in the NBA, and I don't know how my parents did it back in the day without technology. During the off-season, I have much more time with my kids, so I’m trying to do as many fun things as possible and do little things like showing up to their practices. Carpooling is an amazing time [chuckles]. The beauty of it is that you come to appreciate all the little things that seem kind of mundane or routine.
Do you have any books that you enjoyed growing up that you then made a point of sharing with your kids?
My parents read a lot of Bible stories with me. That’s how I learned my faith, so those are very meaningful to me to share with my kids. But there wasn’t a specific series or book that I had lined up to share with my kids. I tried to be open to what they were interested in. They're old enough now that I take their lead. They come home with Dork Diaries and that type of stuff. I just love the fact that they are reading to me now. They’re the storytellers and I’m the audience, and that makes bedtime more fun.
Do you recall any lessons about positivity your parents tried to teach you that, at the time, you were maybe skeptical about? But now you see the wisdom in and are trying to pass it down to your kids?
They created an environment where I learned early on how to respond to failure. I played on a 10-and-under AAU basketball when I was 9, so I was the youngest on the team. And there was a big moment in the national championship game where I missed a free throw to tie the game and the next one as well. So by missing those two free throws, we lost the game. My parents were very supportive of me during those moments. Even now, the emotions I experience when I think of that time are very tangible. And the power of that experience has helped me learn not to be afraid of failure.
I’m always telling my kids that they have to try stuff and sometimes it's not gonna work. Sometimes it is, but all you control is your focus and attention. It's all about your approach to life. My parents set that foundation for belief and confidence that can prepare you for any moment and not be afraid of what the consequences might be or what the outcomes are going to be.
Are there any parenting hacks you lean on to encourage your kids when things aren’t working out for them?
It doesn't make any sense without explanation, but we always say “control your WABA,” which stands for your words, actions, behavior, and attitude. Those are four factors that they can control, no matter what's going on in their life. Hopefully, that keeps them centered through all of the ups and downs.
That seems like something little kids would get into. How do you think they’ll respond to WABA as they get older?
There's a little bit more sarcasm now. They're like, “I know, I know I know. Control your WABA.” But it still resonates, and it’ll be something that we can laugh about when they’re 18 and getting ready to graduate.
You would have had to live WABA out from a basketball standpoint last year as you were working on the book. There was a lot of skepticism about how good Golden State would be and whether or not the younger guys on the team could step up. Have you seen these principles come to fruition in the locker room?
Well, yeah, I don't know how it would go if I walked up to them and said “you have a superpower” or “WABA!” But I think those messages are important for young guys. They need to hear that they have value to offer this team. They need to know they’re going to be vital to helping us to accomplish our goals. Sometimes they don't even realize what we're saying when they hear it. But they work, they believe, and then you look up at the end of the year and you’re celebrating a championship. So I might package it a little differently, but it's the same concept of self-confidence, work ethic, and belief that we all can resonate with.
I Have A Superpower is out now wherever books are sold.