Giving Back a No Brainer for Brooklyn Nets Guard, David Duke Jr., Whose Navel String is in Liberia

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Opposing teams and coaches have already picked up on David’s strengths on the defensive end of the floor and the contagious energy he brings

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – David Duke Sr. was full of pride when his son, David Duke Jr. was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021 draft of the US National Basketball Association.

Draft night was a fulfilment of a father’s dream, seeing his son, growing up playing in the backyard of the family’s home in Providence, Rhodes Island to the Brooklyn Nets.

It can also be nerve wrecking for parents as the clock ticks and the thirty teams go through the pile of players. For those going undrafted, it can be painful but sometimes rewarding. And so it was for David Duke Jr.

“Although my wife Sharon and I had already placed David Jr path in God’s hands and knew already teams that were high on his ability, we were a still a bit nervous on the process, Duke Sr. recalls. “Once he was not selected in first round the phones started ringing with 2nd round picks which was declined and a training camp deal was offered right away by the Brooklyn Nets while the 2nd round was on. We had a sense of reality that it’s really happening, our first son is going to the NBA. We were totally exhausted because we were celebrating with the young kids til late. The next morning we started getting more details on when he needs to report to Brooklyn and what the schedule looks like. Draft was Thursday I believe and David Jr had to fly out to Brooklyn on Saturday.” 

Defying the Odds

Since teaming up with the nets, David Duke Jr., 22, has been impressive, appearing in fourteen NBA games for the Nets averaging 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.5 minutes. Not bad for the rookie whose journey to the NBA has been built on beating the odds. 

Opposing teams and coaches have already picked up on David’s strengths on the defensive end of the floor and the contagious energy he brings.

The early success is attributed to David’s upbringing.

“I believe the reason why I continue to be blessed is because I don’t hold on to the blessing for myself. I always look for ways to see how I can share the blessing with others, or in other words, be a blessing for others.” – David Duke Jr

Duke Jr., grew up in Providence, Rhode Island playing soccer and football  and running track. He did not focus on basketball until high school. As a freshman at Classical High School in Providence, Duke stood 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) and played at the junior varsity level. David grew to 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and joined the varsity team in his sophomore season. 

As a junior, he averaged 15 points per game and led his team to a Division 1 state title. After the season, David transferred to Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts and repeated his junior year due to reclassification. He played with Wabissa Bede and helped his team win the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class AA title. As a senior, Duke averaged 17 points, five rebounds and four assists per game and helped Cushing reach the NEPSAC Class AA semifinals. A four-star recruit, he committed to playing college basketball for Providence over offers from Virginia Tech, Florida, Indiana and Vilanova.

Entering his first season at Providence, Duke Jr. shared preseason Big East Freshman of the Year honors with Jahvon Quinerly.  He immediately became the team’s starting point guard but moved off the ball by the end of the season. On November 17, 2018, Duke Jr. scored a freshman season-high 20 points in a 76–67 win over South Carolina. As a freshman, he averaged 7.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.  On January 18, 2020, Duke scored a sophomore season-high 36 points, shooting 6-of-8 from three-point range, in a 78–74 loss to Creighton. As a sophomore, he averaged 12 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game, shooting 42 percent on three-pointers. ] Duke averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game as a junior. He was named to the Second Team All-Big East. On April 2, 2021, Duke Jr.  declared for the 2021, forgoing his remaining college eligibility.

David Duke Sr. made sure to keep the family of three boys, David Jr, Sean and Jordan grounded and gives credit to his wife, Sharon for being there to make it all happen

Now, crafting a bourgeoning legacy for himself in the NBA, David Duke Jr., has not forgotten his roots and the homeland of his mother and father and giving back to his community has always been a priority. The David Duke Jr Foundation was made with a God-led mission — “Fulfilling the will of God by building communities and leaders for generations to come”.

The foundation was founded in 2021, with a commitment to redefining community and building stronger families. The David Duke Jr Foundation was founded to support, strengthen and inspire families as they navigate the many obstacles of life. 

For his father, David Duke, Sr., the foundation not only epitomizes the family’s identity but also a lessons of the family’s struggles and upbringing. “Our kids are all aware of Sharon, I journey as refugees during the 1990 Civil War and giving the opportunity to come to the states, and that is where it all began.”

Duke Sr., adds, “growing up they have seen me ship cars, lots of barrels to Liberia and also donating to orphanages while visiting Liberia. David Jr now 6’5 always grew out of his clothes and shoes. He always were putting those small shoes and clothes in barrels to send home. A few years back I visited Liberia and donated clothes and food to a few orphanages, after seeing that he was always curious about giving back. Unfortunately, the most I could afford was for Sharon and I to visit Liberia. Now being in the NBA the plan is for the family to visit and give back.”

The David Duke Foundation visits Liberia often, donating clothes and food to orphanages

Duke Sr., made sure to keep the family of three boys, David Jr, Sean and Jordan grounded. “They all grew up on fufu at an early age cause it’s way cheaper than baby formula. As parents, Sharon and I shared our life stories, struggles, good times and bad times with our boys. The goal has always been to tell them we did not get to where we are by accident. God first, and hard work. We always have African food in our home and the boys moto is #fufuStrong. They know for a fruit to grow the roots have grounded. God Frist, Humility and hard work is the recipe for success. Also don’t let anyone measure your level of success for you.”

Counting His Blessings

All the Dukes ever asked for was an opportunity and God has opened the door. “One step at a time my son. Cream will always rise to the top! I give God the Glory and I take none. You are the first to make me a father. Your accomplishment I’m most proud off is when in-season you helped raised over $15,000 for the Crossroads homeless shelter during the Covid Pandemic, to me this beats your career high in points by far.. Keep Working! Keep your head up! Be not distracted by the noise. Matthew 19:26 ‘With God all things are possible’.

For David Duke Jr., giving back has always been the goal. “It started before I even touched the NBA. I started back in college with a couple fundraisers for the less fortunate. Once the dream of playing in the NBA became more of a reality I knew immediately that giving back was going to continue being a priority for me. I believe the reason why I continue to be blessed is because I don’t hold on to the blessing for myself. I always look for ways to see how I can share the blessing with others, or in other words, be a blessing for others.”

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