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Make 2022 your best year yet and let this Moon Reading decode your destiny with precise wisdom you can’t find anywhere else!

Dereck Lively II has mom in his corner and dad on his mind at the NBA draft — Andscape

Get This Before It Disappears!


Get This Before It Disappears!

Make 2022 your best year yet and let this Moon Reading decode your destiny with precise wisdom you can’t find anywhere else!

NEW YORK – Nine years ago, Kathy Drysdale was in the fight of her life when she learned she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But with the life of her son Dereck Lively II in mind, she had all the motivation needed to beat cancer.

It’s milestone nights like Thursday, when Drysdale will see her 7-foot-1, 230-pound son selected in the 2023 NBA draft (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), where her painful journey has its biggest rewards.

“It was bad enough he was already a statistic, being raised by a single parent,” Drysdale told Andscape in a recent phone interview. “I wasn’t going to have him be a statistic of being an orphan. That was not anything that was allowed to cross my mind. That was not an option. So, I fought like hell. I did everything they needed me to do.

“I was in the hospital for certain periods of time. I did whatever chemo they needed me, radiation, medicine. Whatever I needed to do to get rid of it. I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I wanted to be here for moments like this and support him and help guide him. He was my reason. He was my why.”

Usually, it’s a father or male figure that serves as the childhood inspiration for an NBA player to fall in love with the game of basketball. But after Lively II was born on Feb. 12, 2004, in Philadelphia, his mother guided his hoop dreams.

Drysdale starred for Penn State’s women’s basketball team from 1988 to 1992. The 6-foot-4 center scored 1,295 points, grabbed 717 rebounds and blocked 89 shots during her career with the Nittany Lions. She also played a key role in Penn State earning its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll in 1991.

“We lost in the [NCAA tournament] Sweet 16 my senior year, but we still had a lot of success,” Drysdale said. “We were in the Atlantic 10 when I was at school. We won the conference tournament my sophomore, junior year. We were No. 1 in the country my junior year when we beat Dawn Staley’s team at Virginia.”

Said Lively II to Andscape: “She used to always tell me she was always posting up. But her favorite move was just a little jumper from the short corner. She always told me she was the ‘Goddess of the baseline.’ That’s what she told me, but I never was able to see it.”

Drysdale has been back at her alma mater since 2011, working for Penn State athletics as director of marketing. But prior to her return to PSU, she worked for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1993 to 2006 in game operations, game presentation and ticket sales. She oversaw several season ticket holder events and due to her role, she sat at the scorer’s table during Sixers’ games.

Lively II was too young to have been able to enjoy all the benefits of his mom working for the Sixers, but he has been to numerous games over the years. Drysdale had relationships with several Sixers players during her tenure there, including Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson.

“So, Allen used the Slipp-Nott [traction] mat to always get the stuff off the bottom of your shoes,” Drysdale said. “Allen would always be the last one. So, he would pull off that top layer of the Slipp-Nott, crunch it up, and toss it to me every time he played.”

A young Dereck Lively II with his parents Kathy Drysdale (top left) and Dereck Lively Sr. (top right).

the lively family

While Lively II learned the game from his mom, he has said that his outgoing personality came from his father, Dereck Lively Sr.

Lively II still fondly recalls his father’s laugh and jokes. The memories of his father picking him up from elementary school, taking him to get ice cream and going hunting for candy on Halloween bring him joy. Lively Sr., who battled cocaine and heroin addiction, died of an overdose in 2011 when Lively II was seven years old.

Drysdale initially told her son that his father died of an enlarged heart but after he became more inquisitive, she told him the truth.

“His father had a rough time of it, but his name was never taboo in the house,” Drysdale said. “It wasn’t like if he said his name we are not going to talk about it. ‘No, whatever you want to know, honey, I’ll tell you.’ And then his true reason on how he passed away, I didn’t tell him until I felt like he was old enough.

“And he started asking me and asking me, he’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t think he died of an enlarged heart. What did he die of?’ And I told him, I said, ‘Well, he did have an enlarged heart, but he died of a heroin overdose.’ So, he knew. He asked the questions and I answered. I was honest with him. He had every right to know; it was his father.”

Drysdale said that she and her son miss Lively Sr. “every day, 100 percent.” Lively II has his dad’s name, date of birth and date of his death tattooed on the left side of his arm in the elbow area.

Lively II’s grandmother and other relatives from his dad’s side are expected to attend Thursday’s draft. Lively II said hearing his last name during the NBA draft will be special because it keeps his father’s memory alive.

“Just knowing that I carry his name with me every step I take, I know if he was here he would be so proud,” Lively II said. “All I’m doing is just trying to put a smile on my family’s face.”

Dereck Lively II (left) and his mother, Kathy Drysdale (right).

dereck lively family

In 2014, Drysdale was oddly having itchy skin and a cough that wouldn’t go away. With the push of Penn State athletic trainers, she eventually decided to get checked by a doctor. That was when Drysdale learned she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when her son was about 10 years old.

The athlete in Drysdale immediately wanted a game plan for a cure. She also had to tell her son.

“I found out, and then I sat him down at home and I was like, ‘Listen, this is what I have,’ ” Drysdale said. “And he is looking at me. I said, ‘Honey, I’ve got cancer.’ And I don’t think he understood what it was, yet you don’t put much past kids. They understand more than we probably give them credit for.

“But I was like, ‘I got this. I’m good. There’s a plan. This is definitely beatable and you’re still going to do what you want to do…’ It was a village that helped with the process. I think he was a little shook, but he didn’t really show it. But I think when he saw that I was okay, he was okay.”

Drysdale had multiple chemotherapy radiation treatments as Penn State’s Mount Nittany Medical Center. She spent a month in the hospital for a stem cell transplant of her own cells that was unsuccessful. A clinical trial in Houston also didn’t work. She did find success with Opdivo, a prescription medicine used in combination with Ipilimumab as a first treatment for adults with a type of advanced stage lung cancer. There was countless blood work and doctors’ visits.

Drysdale had her good days, bad days and times when she felt the need to sleep early. And through it all, Lively II was there to help him mom in any way he could at his age.

“I was more focused on taking care of the people around me than myself,” Lively II said. “I was making sure my mom was good. I made sure she had everything she needed before I worried about what I was feeling…

“I was running to CVS to get some medicine. Running to the store to grab some food. But it didn’t matter. I was doing whatever it takes to make sure I had my mom.”

Dereck Lively II (left) and his mother, Kathy Drysdale (right) during Lively’s freshman season at Duke.

duke men’s basketball

The game of basketball definitely gave Lively II and his mother a break from all the pain.

It was Drysdale who taught her son the fundamentals of the game of basketball, “the old school way.” She pushed him to have all-around game on both ends of the floor instead of just worrying about scoring. She coached him in youth basketball in the sixth and seventh grade.

“Without sounding too conceited, I would probably say a good portion of his basketball game came from me,” Drysdale said. “I’m keeping in mind that the game has changed from when I played to now. Trying to teach a kid to do some post moves the old-school way…

“At one point, he was a little disappointed because he wasn’t having as much of an impact [scoring] as he wanted to. And I was like, ‘Listen dude, you are rebounding the ball. You are defending, you’re making people change their shots. You’re doing more than you realize, and it’s not a statistic. You are impacting the game. So, you need to continue to develop that so you can get better at that. The shots will come. All that will happen, but there’s other parts of the game.’ ”

Drysdale believed that when her son was a sophomore in high school that he had a chance become a special basketball player.

ESPN ranked Lively II the top prep recruit in the nation in 2022 while he starred at Westtown High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Drysdale made sure he was ready for the good and bad that came with being No. 1.

“Being able to have my mom in my corner, it’s just something I’m just so grateful for. She’s always encouraging me, but she’s also my No. 1 critic. She’s the first person to tell me, I could have done this better, I could have done that better, I missed an assignment. So just always having her to back me up is just something I love.”

– Dereck Lively II on his mother’s support

“I was like, ‘Listen, you have a target on your back now, dude. You are the No. 1 player in the country,’ ” Drysdale said. “‘So, they’re all coming after you. They’re all going to say, you suck. You’re no good. You shouldn’t be No. 1. You can either let that noise affect you or you can kind of use it as fuel and show them why you should be where you are.’ ”

Said Lively II: “Being able to have my mom in my corner, it’s just something I’m just so grateful for. She’s always encouraging me, but she’s also my No. 1 critic. She’s the first person to tell me, I could have done this better, I could have done that better, I missed an assignment. So just always having her to back me up is just something I love.”

Drysdale would have loved for her son to play at Penn State, but only if that was what he truly wanted. Lively II considered Penn State, Kentucky and Michigan before ultimately deciding to play at Duke. He also earned the honor of playing in the Nike Hoop Summit, Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All American Game.

Fighting cancer and concerned about being immunocompromised in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Drysdale couldn’t attend any of her son’s all-star games. Instead, she had loved ones and a high school coach there for him offering support.

“I had somebody there for those big events,” Drysdale said. “And I was able to watch all three of them on TV. And he always checked in with me and all that stuff. But he knew he had to do it. It was something fun for him to do and to be selected was the honor for him.”

Duke center Dereck Lively II (left) blocks a shot by Miami’s Jordan Miller (right) during the first half of the ACC tournament semifinals at Greensboro Coliseum Complex on March 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Lively II’s offensive statistics as a freshman at Duke were far from memorable, as he averaged 5.2 points on just 3.4 shots per game while starting in 27 of 34 contests. The most he scored was 13 points and he went scoreless when Duke was eliminated by Tennessee in the Sweet 16.

Defensively, however, Lively II was one of the most intimidating forces in college basketball, averaging 2.4 blocks per game. Lively II was named to the 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference All-Defensive team and the ACC All-Freshman team.

While Lively II lamented not having a bigger offensive role with Duke, he felt confident that he was ready for the NBA and entered the draft on April 4.

“Even though he didn’t have the best season, he projects to be a high-level rim protector and a good rebounder whose shot making potential isn’t getting enough attention,” one NBA scout told Andscape.

In the midst in his up-and-down season at Duke, Lively II did get some great off the court news last Fall: His mother’s cancer was in remission.

“We still take it day by day,” Drysdale said. “You’re not considered cancer free until five years have passed. So, as you’re going through it and you’re trying to get through one year, every ache, every soreness, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, it’s back. Oh my God, it’s back.’ You kind of play some head games with yourself without realizing that you do, but it’s just where you go when you’re trying to stay healthy and you’re feeling stuff.”

Lively II’s decision to enter the draft appears to be a wise one. He was invited to the NBA Draft’s Green Room for players expected to be picked in the first round, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony projects that Lively II could be selected 10th overall by the Dallas Mavericks.

Lively II admitted that the wait and unknown are nerve-racking.

“It so unsettling because by Friday you’re going to end up in a new state, a new area,” he said. “You’re not going to know where you are going to live, where you are going to get something to eat.”

Drysdale had a check-in doctor’s appointment in New York City on Tuesday. While the aftereffect of the cancer makes it painful to walk in heels, she plans to brave the pain during introductions on the stage before the draft.

Lively II said he and his mother will be wearing similar outfits on what is expected to be an emotional night after enduring so much together.

“There will be so many emotions. There have been a lot of things we have gone through,” Lively II said at the NBA draft news conference Wednesday morning. “This is going to be an unreal moment.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.


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