The 2019 NBA Draft is only days away and former UNC freshman Coby White is expected to be among the first names called.
White spoke to The Players’ Tribune about his journey to the NBA Draft, highlighting the influence that his father had on his life.
He always did everything he could to provide for me, my brother and sister, and our mom. It was never easy — he worked the graveyard shift at the factory near our house in Goldsboro, North Carolina — but he never complained about anything. That wasn’t his way.
“As crazy as it might sound, it’s going to be one of the most difficult moments I’ve ever experienced.”
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) June 17, 2019
Ranked as the No. 25 recruit in the nation, White received attention from high-profile schools but decided to commit to UNC very early in the process.
When Coach Williams invited us up to Chapel Hill for a visit, everything just lined up for me in every way. UNC was super close, and I loved everything about the program and the arena and the school.
And my dad really hit it off with Coach Williams.
Those two, they’re both so old-school and down-to-earth and just … genuine. I remember when we got in the car after we all had just finished up a long conversation during that visit, and I asked my dad what he thought.
“I like good ol’ Roy,” he said, all country.
“He’s a fine man. Good ol’ Roy! My man!”
So three days after that UNC offer arrived, during my sophomore year of high school, I committed to play for Coach Williams and the Tar Heels.
My dad couldn’t stop smiling.
Before White enrolled in Chapel Hill, his father was diagnosed with liver cancer. According to White, his father’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He lost weight, he couldn’t walk, and his memory started to slip.
It got to the point where I would look at my father and he didn’t even recognize me. That was the hardest part for me — looking my dad in the eyes and knowing, actually being able to tell that … he didn’t know who I was.
White’s father passed away and the NBA Draft prospect said that made his lone year in Chapel Hill much more difficult.
For me, this past year at UNC was an example of that. We had an amazing season, with so many incredible moments – a conference title, two huge wins over Duke, a No. 1 seed in the tournament. It was one of the best years of my entire life.
At the same time, though, it was just exceptionally difficult because … Pops wasn’t around to share those moments with me.
To be completely honest with you, I struggled all season long trying to cope with that reality.
White said that his father still remains an influence in his life, no matter where he gets drafted.
Anytime I post on Instagram, I include the letters FMF — For My Father — at the end. And this past year I got those letters tatted on me, along with the Roman numerals of the day that my dad passed. I will think about him before and after every single game I play in the league. That’s not even a question.
Currently projected as a Top-10 pick in Thursday’s draft, White has been most commonly mocked to the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. White said the night will be an emotional affair.
I am going to break down. I will cry and be very, very sad. No maybes. That will be part of this experience for me.