Rookie DeAndre Liggins didn't feel well and left the Magic's morning shootaround Friday at Amway Center. Hours later, he was back at it, working on a jump shot you'll never see this season before the club faced the Atlanta Hawks.
He then put on street clothes to watch his Magic teammates from the bench.
"I expected it to be hard … no summer league, late training camp, and we have a lot of veterans," Liggins said. "I knew it would be tough."
The thing is, Liggins, 23, can handle it.
Whatever adversity you throw at the kid, he won't crumble.
"I'm blessed, even though I'm not playing," Liggins said. "The things I've been through, most people don't make it."
Not many fans know it, but Liggins wears No. 34, honoring his late brother, Maurice.
Maurice wore the number in high school in Chicago, a rising star attracting college scouts, and was buried in his jersey a decade ago. He was then shot to death, gunned down on school grounds while defending his sister.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the service, preaching nonviolence in the city while 14-year-old DeAndre mourned. Only a few months earlier, he had lost his father, who died from complications of diabetes, and moved in with his grandmother.
"[Maurice] makes me work harder. If not for him, I couldn't be here. I guess everything happens for a reason," Liggins said.
He has an image of Maurice's face tattooed on his right shoulder.
Liggins will tell you that it was Maurice who was destined to become a star. DeAndre was content to play pickup games in the street until that fateful day.
"He was the guy; I was just a regular kid," Liggins said. "I didn't know how good I was. I wasn't playing any kind of structured basketball. I was playing for fun. …[Maurice] was playing to go somewhere.
"When he passed, I had to follow his dreams."
Liggins grew into a prep star and signed with Kentucky, although his journey was not free of complications.
Admittedly immature and lacking any male role models in his life, Liggins clashed with then-Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie. Gillispie threw him out of practice several times, and Liggins then refused to enter a game once as a sub. He also was skipping classes.
A coaching change to John Calipari didn't go much better at first for him. Calipari suspended Liggins for nine games for violating a team rule.
Liggins was in the doghouse at Kentucky until he turned things around, becoming one the SEC's best defenders. His clutch 3-pointer against North Carolina last season sent the Wildcats to their first Final Four since 1998.
The Magic selected Liggins, 6-feet-6, in the second round of the 2011 draft. He won't get a chance to play until next season.