A look at Kawhi Leonard's life and career
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard holds his playoffs MVP trophy during the 2019 Toronto Raptors Championship parade in Toronto on Monday, June 17, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Published Saturday, July 6, 2019 8:56PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 6, 2019 8:58PM EDT
Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard, 28, has decided to leave his championship winning team behind and is heading home to California to play for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Heartbroken Raptors fans woke to the news on Saturday morning.
Here we take a look back at the life and career of the self-proclaimed “fun guy” who was instrumental in bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy to Canada for the first time.
Kawhi Leonard was born the son of Mark Leonard and Kim Robertson on June 29, 1991, according to Sports Illustrated.
Leonard’s talent was clear in his high school days where he played at Canyon Springs in Moreno Valley, where he grew up, and Martin Luther King High in Riverside.
Leonard was 16 when his father was shot and killed at age 43 at the car wash he owned in Compton, Calif. The case remains unsolved.
Leonard excels at San Diego State University over two seasons. He decides to turn professional.
Leonard was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers but was traded that night to the San Antonio Spurs.
Leonard’s sophomore season as a pro saw the Spurs take on defending champions Miami Heat in the final. The Spurs lost in seven games.
Leonard is named NBA Finals MVP.
Leonard is named defensive player of the year in his fourth season with the Spurs.
Leonard is called up for his first All-Star game and is chosen as the league’s top defensive player for the second time.
Plagued by injuries to his right quadriceps and shoulder, Leonard requests a trade and is bought by the Toronto Raptors alongside Danny Green. The deal sees Raptors All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan and centre Jakob Poeltl go to San Antonio.
Leonard makes his debut in a Raptors uniform, thrilling fans in Vancouver by scoring 12 points in 19 minutes of pre-season action.
Leonard pours in career-high 45 points to lead Raptors in a 122-116 win over Utah Jazz.
Leonard’s buzzer beater—which famously saw the ball bounce off the rim four times—gives the Raptors a 92-90 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, securing Toronto a place in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After falling behind 2-0 to the Mllwaukee Bucks, Leonard helps the Raptors once again respond to adversity with four victories in a row.
Facing the Golden State Warriors on the back of two concurrent championship wins, the Raptors clinch it in game six bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy to Canada for the first time.
“King Kwahi,” as fans dubbed him, is crowned Finals MVP for the second time in his career.
Hundreds of thousands of basketball fans line the streets for a victory parade in downtown Toronto. Leonard rides a float with rapper Drake.
Speculation grows as to where Leonard will go for the next season.
Meanwhile, Leonard files a federal lawsuit against Nike, saying the footwear and apparel giant is blocking him from using a logo that he believes he owns.
Leonard signs with the Clippers, breaking hearts in Toronto where he was revered as “The King of the North.”