Considering the trying upbringing Peyton Siva had to endure, it’s easy to see why it might come as a surprise to some Seattleites that he was drafted into the NBA Thursday night. Not for me. Ever since he made me and my teammates cry during a game eight years ago, I knew Siva was destined to play professional basketball.
Siva starred at Franklin High School and played his AAU ball for Seattle Rotary Style, arguably the best club team in Washington. I was a year younger than him and for some reason my Emerald City team was matched up against his Rotary squad in a tournament at Bellevue Community College. It was not a pretty sight.
In a game filled with jaw-dropping dunks and forceful blocks – all by the same team – a 15-year-old Siva embarrassed us on several occasions, most notably a pair of ferocious jams in which he leapt over the shoulders of an Emerald City player. And he was the point guard.
Another one of Siva’s special talents was on display when he and his Franklin Quakers played against my high school in a KingCo 4A league game at Eastlake the very next year. He was a sophomore at the time and freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity basketball at Eastlake, so my friends and I gladly sat back and watched the show.
Alongside future Washington guard Venoy Overton, Siva made Wolves defenders look like cones and drained shots from all over the court. He would pull up without hesitation and sink jumpers from five feet beyond the 3-point line, pointing to the sky after each shot went through the net. Siva made five of his seven attempts from downtown and finished with 29 points for the game.
Franklin won by a margin of nearly 50, just as Siva’s Rotary team did over my Emerald City squad the previous year.
After making those same types of plays in college and winning a national title at University of Louisville, the 22-year-old now has a chance to prove himself at the highest level of basketball in the world. Siva was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 56th pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
While the game of basketball seemed easy to Siva as he grew up in Seattle, his life away from the court was just the opposite.
At the age of 13, Siva was thrust into a position of the leader within his family. His father and two older siblings all were frequently in trouble with the law and spent time in jail. Siva’s mother needed to work several jobs in order to support the family, so he was forced to teach himself how to drive as a seventh-grader.
When his dad struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, Siva had to be the one to convince his dad to stop and make changes in his life. In one instance he even talked his father out of committing suicide when Siva found him holding a gun.
Siva grew up in the Central District, where gangs roamed. Sports were his way of avoiding all the distractions, and he took on the responsibility of making sure kids in the neighborhood wouldn’t get involved by letting others hang out at his house. The amazing part: Siva finished high school with a 4.0 GPA while staying completely free of drugs and alcohol.
After leading Franklin to two state championships and being named AP Washington Player of the Year his senior season, Siva followed in the footsteps of former Rainier Beach star Terrence Williams by accepting a scholarship to play at Louisville. He was a key contributor for the Cardinals right away and started for three years at point guard, guiding his team to the NCAA Tournament each season. Louisville won this year’s national title as Siva led the Cardinals in minutes, assists, and steals. The 6-foot-1 guard was also an Academic All-American and became just the second player to win the MVP award in back-to-back Big East Tournaments.
Siva is one of a dozen Seattle natives to be selected in the NBA Draft during the past eight years. He’s a devout Christian and remains loyal to his city, wearing tattoos that read 206 and depict the Seattle skyline. Now we await to see how many more players he can bring to tears.