Never too late

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By Gerard Flanagan

Andre Ingram had been in the NBA’s G-League for more than a decade, clinching the league record for most three-pointers made. He traveled by bus to games, staying in affordable hotel rooms on a meager salary.
After a decade of G-League time - where he also tutored students in math on the side - Ingram finally got the call to go to the pros, suiting up for the Los Angeles back on April 10 in his first ever NBA game. As Ingram waited at the scorer’s table to get into the game, Chris Paul, six months older than Ingram, greeted him.
"I told him I heard about his story, and that grind is unbelievable," Paul said. "I told him, `Much respect.' I mean, 10 years grinding in the G League, to finally get an opportunity and to play like that, it's pretty special."
Ingram’s special night was only getting started. Ingram scored 19 points, hitting a three-pointer on his first ever NBA shot attempt. As the shots kept falling and he kept on dazzling, Ingram drew “MVP” chants from the crowd at the Staples Center. Ingram finished 6-8 shooting and had three rebounds, three blocks and a steal. He was also 4-5 from three.
It didn’t matter his first game in the NBA ended in a 105-99 loss to the Houston Rockets; the atmosphere in the arena and the locker room postgame gave the appearance the Lakers had just won the NBA Finals.
Ingram had played 384 games in the developmental G-League, hitting 713 three-pointers in that span. He had some stints overseas, playing briefly in Australia. At times, it seemed Ingram wouldn’t see his dream of playing in the NBA come true. Ingram was having a solid career in the developmental league as he was on his way to becoming the leader scorer of the Utah Flash, a now defunct team.
However, the NBA teams weren’t calling. With prospects dim, Ingram’s former coach Jeff Jones tried to convince Ingram to head overseas to play, insisting he’d make more money there. Ingram, however, was determined to get his shot at the NBA through the G-League.
“Andre was seemingly determined to make the NBA,” said Jones, who now coaches at Old Dominion. “He liked the idea of that.”
Ingram went undrafted out of college and wound up being drafted in the G-League Draft. His determination and a rash of injuries to Los Angeles provided Ingram his shot at the NBA; Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas and Kyle Kuzma were all sidelined with injuries.
Ingram made the most of his debut. He scored 11 points in seven minutes and he was the Lakers’ leading scorer at the half. From undrafted, to spending a decade in the G-League, to becoming an instant star with one captivating performance, Ingram provided us with a great story about perseverance.
His hopes of getting to the NBA were slipping. His chances weren’t good. He could’ve given up. Season after season passed and there he was, still in the G-League. Would the call to the pros ever come? Then, one day, it did. He got his shot under the big lights. He stepped into the court. He didn’t just play. He didn’t just appear in the game. He arguably took over the game with his captivating performance. He knew his perseverance had paid off.