CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to work hard off the basketball court so he’ll be able to confidently talk about his success on it.
It hasn’t been easy for the teenager. The No. 2 pick in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats has battled a speech disorder since he was a toddler.
But the guarded young man said in an interview with The Associated Press that he is no longer embarrassed by his stuttering.
Kidd-Gilchrist’s off-court self-confidence has grown over the last 12 months since being thrust into the national spotlight. That’s what happens when you chose to play college basketball at the University of Kentucky, win a national championship and become the second pick in the NBA draft.
“It’s a part of me. It’s who I am.” Kidd-Gilchrist said of his stuttering.
While he’s far from a finished product when it comes to speaking to the media, Kidd-Gilchrist said without ever-present support of his mother Cindy Richardson _ whom he considers his best friend, the confidence he gained working with Kentucky’s media relations department last season and the help of a speech pathologist he might not be where he is today.
His mother concedes “Michael doesn’t do media well,” but she’s confident he’ll improve as he matures _ just as he’s done on the court.
“You have to remember Michael doesn’t turn 19 until September,” Richardson said. “He’s always been a very private person. Our entire family is private. We don’t make it a habit to share information with outsiders. And when Michael is just Mike, when he’s away from cameras and the media, he doesn’t have the (stuttering) issue.”
For now, Kidd-Gilchrist finds himself in a tough situation. And he’s OK with that.
By virtue of being drafted so high, he’ll be viewed as the face of the Bobcats franchise and will be the player everyone looks to for answers.
“I’ve learned you just have to take your time, say what you want to say,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
He has certainly dealt with bigger obstacles in his life.
A month before his third birthday his father, Michael Gilchrist, was shot to death leaving a void in the young boy’s life.
He grew closer to his uncle, Darrin Kidd, as an adolescent. But he too was taken early, dying of a heart attack the same day Kidd-Gilchrist signed a letter of intent to play at Kentucky. Michael took his uncle’s surname as part of his own to honor him.