Lance Stephenson, currently on the Los Angeles Lakers, is well known for his ball-on-a-string handles and flashy passes, but he’s known to many as “Born Ready” for a reason.
Some people know him from his playoff runs in Indiana with Paul George, David West, and company. Some people know him as the prodigy from Coney Island who won 4 straight city championships in high school. And, some people go all the way back to his days as a 12-year-old running pick up with the adults at the park(not very common in Brooklyn).
The Lance Stephenson’s got a good story and one every fan should know. So, let’s go back to the start and I’ll explain why Lance has the nickname “Born Ready.”
The Beginning of the Born Ready Baller From Brooklyn
At the age of 12, Lance Stephenson had already made a name for himself. His AAU teams were always in contention for the National Championship. Lance was also a 6ft 12-year-old that was allowed to run pick up with the grown men. “Allowed” isn’t a great word to describe the situation, but he always got picked up, because he was good and everyone respected his game.
When Lance was 14 and about to start high school, he was well known enough to get an invite to the exclusive ABCD basketball camp. The time came for Lance’s team to play against, the then #1 high school player in the nation, OJ Mayo. Lance went right at him, no fear, just buckets. OJ Mayo was being praised as the “next LeBron” and Lance gave him everything he had.
This is the same attitude that got Lance to where he is today. You need to be confident and mentally tough to step on a court with grown men when you’re just a kid. It’s the same attitude that gives Lance the confidence to match up with all-time greats like LeBron James, on stages like the Eastern Conference Finals.
That combination of confidence and skill, at a such a young age, led many to begin calling him "Born Ready."
Check out some highlights from the OJ vs. Lance matchup:
Lincoln High School Adds a Legend
Lance made a last-second decision to attend Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn and he wouldn’t look back. Lincoln High was home New York hoops legends such as Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair. Lance would eventually pass those two and set the all-time scoring record. The man almost scored 3,000 points in his high school career (2,946). Head Coach Dwayne Morton, who also coach Telfair, said Lance was “The best I ever had at Lincoln.”
Stephenson led Lincoln to 4 consecutive City Championships. That had never been done before. Lance would also be named Mr. New York Basketball in 2009
Lance went to the University of Cincinnati for one year. He won Big-East Rookie of the Year with averages of 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Lance had a season-high 23 points against the then #19 team in the nation, Georgetown. The Bearcats would have an underwhelming season, losing in the second round of the NIT and Lance declared for the NBA draft.
NBA Career, So Far
Lance was selected 40th overall by the Pacers and would go on to be a key part of several playoff runs. With Lance, the Pacers made the playoffs 4 times and went to the Eastern Conference Finals 2 times. Most of Lance's fame and playing time came during his time with the Pacers, especially in 2013-2014 when he started 78 games and averaged 35 minutes per game(both career highs). Stephenson's career high in points per game came in 2015-2016 with Memphis (14.2), but he only played in 26 games.
After that 2014 season with Indiana Lance would bounce around the league for a couple years, eventually finding himself back with the Pacers. Lance found a role as a second-unit ballhandler and would earn himself a 1-year contract with the LA Lakers.
Stephenson’s career isn’t over and the future looks bright for him in Los Angeles.
Even with all the success, Lance will always be the Born Ready hooper from Brooklyn.