After undergoing minor surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right leg, Malik Beasley, 19, worked hard relentlessly with doctors, strength experts, skilled trainers and physical therapists to recover from his injury.
But his most important work out was with his father.
“I went to the gym practically every day around about 6 p.m. with my Dad working on things I needed to improve,” says the former Florida State shooting guard, now a Denver Nugget. “We made the shooting drills real hard. Whenever I missed, he didn’t want me to shake my head or show any emotion. That was the main focus of that workout. I think that really helped me a lot.”
Beasley’s father, actor Michael Beasley is no stranger to playing pro hoops. Back in the day, Michael played basketball overseas in Argentina and in the Dominican Republic and several other countries.
The younger Beasley gives a wry smile and agrees basketball is in the genes. “A little bit,” he says. “I put a lot of reps in – up at night and early in the morning, that way it’s easier in the game.”
First Round Draft Pick
The Denver Nuggets drafted Beasley, a deep range shooter in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft. At 6 foot 5 inches, Beasley can accurately shoot the rock from anywhere on the court – a sight far too familiar to unsuspecting opponents. In the tradition of recent Golden State Warrior guards, Beasley can stretch the floor –something the Nuggets desperately need.
“I have a few spots where I know for sure it’s going in,” Beasley says, “because I have a better feeling of that. For me, I can shoot from different places. It really doesn’t matter.”
Beasley says the 2016-17 season is going to be a special year for the Nuggets with several new players coming in and the veterans returning. “We really want to change the profile of the team,” he says.
Getting drafted by the Denver Nuggets was one of the highlights in Beasley’s basketball career. “That was special,” he says. “Right after that was deciding what college I was going to attend.”
Some of Beasley’s favorite NBA basketball highlights are memories when New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was a Denver Nugget. Beasley says the Nuggets want to bring back the winning tradition they had with Anthony and recent basketball Hall of Famer inductee Allen Iversen.
“I really think it’s going to be a sensational season,” he says. “I want some sold-out games this year.”
Flourished at Florida State
As a Seminole last year, Beasley averaged 15.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game – punctuated by 49 percent from the three-point line, 87 percent from the field and 92 percent from the free throw line.
Beasley was named Freshman All-American, All-ACC Freshman Team and All-ACC Honorable Mention.
Oh yeah, Beasley who is an extraordinary leaper – if left unchecked, will dunk on defenders.
Even though Beasley left Florida State after a stellar freshman season, he’s still pursuing his educational goals, online with a degree in business and finance.
“I promised my Mom that I would get my degree – regardless of whether I stayed in college or left to play basketball,” he says.
Beasley explains that many people might not realize that Florida State still pays for his education. And the university is one of the few schools that offer that particular incentive with its scholarships, if you leave school and turn professional.
“I’m glad I chose Florida State,” Beasley says. “I just started a new class yesterday.”
Beasley underlines the point that his former model mother Deena and his father are his heroes. Deena and Michael Beasley are considered “The Power Couple of Hollywood South.”
“We’ve been through a lot,” he says. “Even though they have been actors growing up and professional basketball players, we still had to go through a lot of adversity. Those are my two heroes.
Growing Up With Actors
Moviegoers might recognize Deena from such films as the Hunger Games: Catching Fire (’13), Mystic Rising (’13), Barbershop: The Next Cut (’16), several commercials and short films.
“I just finished shooting a movie with Ice Cube and Charlie Day called Fist Fight, Deena says. “It should be out in a couple of months. My husband is shooting in Atlanta right now on “The Originals” TV show – aspinoff of The Vampire Diaries. He really stays busy.”
Deena says Atlanta is the next biggest city for actors. To punctuate the fact, the Beasley’s have a film studio in their home. “Atlanta has very good tax incentives for movies. And when the writer’s strike occurred in LA six years ago, everybody went to Atlanta, and Los Angles lost a lot of its business,” Deena explains.
“So now, people are coming to Atlanta to shoot movies and TV shows,” she says.
Keeping with the family tradition, Malik Beasley has dabbled in acting himself with small parts in commercials and in the motion picture Diary of a Mad Black Woman (’05).
However, the main goal for the Beasley’s acting careers is LA. “So we are even closer to LA now,” Deena says. “And the fact that Malik is a Denver Nugget works out just fine for us.”
Rounding out his impressive family tree is his grandfather, the recognizable freckled-face character actor John Beasley, whose film and TV credits include Walking Tall (’04), The Sum of All Fears (‘02), the Purge (‘16) and the television series “Everwood,” and “Soul Man.”
On the court heroes, Beasley says look no further than retired Los Angeles Laker’s Kobe Bryant, Memphis Grizzlies Vince Carter, who he says he watched a lot growing up, and of course Cleveland’s LeBron James.
“I’ve played against LeBron already,” Beasley says. “I went to his academy camp when I was in high school. Playing with those guys is going to be pretty special. I’m on the court with them now.”
When he’s not shooting hoops, Beasley spends most of his free time with his sister and family. He also enjoys playing golf.
“I don’t get out enough to have handicap,” he says, “but when I play, I do pretty well. It’s a mental game, it’s tough. And that’s why I do it, because it makes you stay calm, stay patient.”
And then there are video games, which Beasley loves to play at least four hours a day. “It’s enjoying life – whatever it is,” he says.
Good Work Ethic
But it’s not all fun and games. Beasley has a strict exercise routine he executes before the start of any basketball season, which includes running and biking, and of course eating healthy.
“That helps me be in the best shape,” he says. “Even though I have a contract, I’m going to work hard anyway. It’s not easy. My main goal every summer is to be in the best shape possible, so that in the fourth quarter, I’m still going strong while others are tired.”
This summer is probably the last time Beasley will be able to go to a local restaurant, movie or night club and not be recognized by Nuggets fans.
“I was thinking I won’t be able to do those things because of what’s about to happen,” he says. “But I believe even once it happens, I will still be able to go out and have dinner with my family. If people want to take pictures, I’ll take pictures with them. I want to enjoy life just like a regular person off the court,” he says.
Beasley says he’s played basketball since he was a baby, playing at the local Y.M.C.A. and recreational leagues. By the 11th grade, Beasley knew he was destined to play in the NBA. Today, he carries a picture of himself and his brother sleeping with a basketball on his smartphone.
“When he was in the 9th grade, he was not a starter,” says his mother Deena. “But he earned his spot. He developed a chip on his shoulder because there were players starting before him. That actually made his game better. He started getting rebounds averaging 9 to 10 a game.”
At Florida State Beasley lead the Seminoles in minutes played – 29.8 minutes per game.
So what about starting with the Nuggets whose season begins Oct. 3, against the Toronto Raptors?
“This year?” Beasley says, “Probably not in the beginning. We have established players. I really don’t know. But anything can happen.”
A shade more optimistic, Deena says Beasley is preparing himself to start. And it’s a fight to get into the NBA with just 30 teams. “He’s very blessed, talented and skilled to be able to enter at such a young age.”
“She’s the one who brags. I just have to keep my body healthy,” Beasley says, “stay humble and just wait my time. Everything happens for a reason. I’m a firm believer of that. As long as we’re winning – I’m good.”
Beasley says the transition from college hoops to the pros has been tough already, but he has a good staff, a good family and support.
“That helps me a lot,” he says.
So what about a girlfriend?
“No girlfriend,” Beasley says. “I’ll know when I’m ready. I’m not ready right now.
I’m ready for the season. I’ve made such a journey.”